From the emailed description of the defect, we expected to discuss furnace issues. Of course, until we actually saw the wafers, there was the chance that it could be something else altogether. When the customer arrived with the wafers, the actual image on the wafer was different from what we saw in the emailed photo. When viewed from an oblique angle to the surface, instead of concentric rings, a spiral pattern was seen emanating from the center. It looked like a “pollywog with a long tail” spiraling out towards the edge. From my experience working in fabs, I remembered seeing this as a characteristic of a malfunctioning spinner, possibly either a speed issue or a problem with the “Suck Back” action at the end of the dispense function. The customer was just as surprised when he saw the pattern, and confirmed that it was most likely the cause. He thanked us and said that while he does not do business with us currently, he would see about trying to change that in the future.
This brought back to me advice from a manager early in my career. He said, “Go that extra mile. It may not bear immediate fruit but eventually, it pays to take care of your customers.” There are going to be many times that you will not be able to chalk up the man hours spent assisting a customer or a potential customer to a specific category. Unless of course, you make a category called “Good Will”.
This is something Aptek has always done and relates back to our business in the late 90′s, early 2000′s. At that time, we were very busy not only processing product but also assisting our customers with process issues. Our customers were also being pushed to solve problems and would turn to their vendors to prove their process “was not” the issue. One customer had asked us if our process had had an adverse affect on their product since it was failing post CMP test. Our process experience enabled us to provide failure analysis and identify that the failure sources were fab process related, outside of the polishing area. We provided photo evidence as well as possible solutions to look for inside their own fab. In fact, we became so busy at one point with failure analysis, we considered charging for consulting work. Eventually, we decided that this was just good customer service and wanted it to be a normal part of what Aptek offers. Today, Aptek still holds true to this philosophy and will do what is necessary to best serve our customers’ needs.
While our recent visitor would not mention the foundry he was working with, I knew that he was referred to us by someone familiar with our reputation for solving process problems. Even if it wasn’t a grind or polish issue, it was a pleasure to help out a colleague. I can place it in our “Good Will” category for now.