Localization of design and production
[Semicon Korea 2019 Exhibitor]
Brooks Automation Korea is a specialist in semiconductor automation and pollution management. It has a unique position in the silicon wafer transfer systems. Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix, and other well-known equipment makers use Brooks products. It has been a leader for 20 years.
The sales of the corporations, Brooks Automation Asia and Brooks Automation Korea, were 92.3 billion won last year. Brooks Automation Korea accounted for 64 billion won. Although the sales have increased over the past few years due to the boom in semiconductors, this year's decline in capital expenditure (CAPEX) is likely to lead to a 20% drop in the company’s sales. It is directly attributable to CAPEX.
This year's strategy is to turn this decrease into an opportunity for internal competitiveness even if the new investment is reduced. Jae-Hyung Han, CEO of Brooks Automation Korea, said, "We do not import finished products but are performing every step of the process from design and production, to parts supply in Korea," and added, "The localization rate is 75% based on equipment (85% by parts). We’re planning to increase the localization rate to 85% by 2020. Our localization rate is higher than that of many domestic equipment companies.”
In Korea, about 140~150 units of wafer transfer equipment are produced annually, and about 1,000 units of load ports for receiving wafers from the front of the equipment are produced. The demand is strong as production bases such as China and Taiwan, in addition to Korea, are concentrated in East Asia. As such, securing competitiveness in Korea has a great impact on the company's earnings improvement and growth. That's why it is looking for a good company all around the nation even for a single cabinet or cable.
Another competitive advantage of Brooks is the robot, which is the core of the transportation system. It moves wafers accurately and quickly in a vacuum as well as in normal atmospheric conditions. As the microfabrication process improves, the wafer is slightly deflected or is impacted in the process of moving, it immediately leads to defects. The accuracy reaches 100㎛. It is an error about the thickness of the hair.
CEO Han said, "The world's number 1 and 2 equipment makers have been credited with reliability and stability enough to consume 80% of the robots produced annually. Since wafers must move to produce semiconductors, we are continually improving our service capabilities that can react swiftly to any issues. "
To this end, Brooks Korea is expanding its manpower in Korea while conducting separate training programs to improve their skills and experience in the field. The education program began in April last year and lasts for eight weeks. Their personnel is not going to be put on the spot immediately but is going through a thorough preparation process.
CEO Han said, "There are many engineers who are skilled enough to repair robots or equipment in other parts of Korea. Through the investment of manpower, we will achieve reliability, performance, cleanliness, and productivity required for equipment development/production suitable for the next generation of semiconductor production."
He also added, "Foreign companies are also contributing to the development of the domestic semiconductor industry. They are not just selling products but also helping to stimulate the domestic economy by brainstorming together."