The semiconductor and IT industries share a common issue: Technical professionals in both require frequent learning to ensure they can meet their own industry’s rapidly changing needs.
The timetable for technical advances in the semiconductor industry is mercifully longer than that in IT, a roughly 18-month cycle compared with six months, respectively, but both industries have suffered slower-than-preferable learning deliverables following training efforts.
To combat the problem, practicing representatives in the semiconductor space — specifically, the Technician Performance Improvement Council (TPIC) — have put together a global “Guide for Equipment Training Best Practices” to help combat training issues.
“Currently, no semiconductor industry standards exist addressing human performance improvement practices that can contribute to the realization of equipment goals for reliability, availability and maintainability,” Carl Gonzales, program director, said. “Many individuals and companies within the industry have implemented these practices, but many others remain unaware of their existence.”
The guide originated from performance-based equipment training modules developed in 1994 at SEMATECH, a consortium that develops advanced semiconductor manufacturing processes, materials and equipment for its members.
Since that time, many semiconductor customers and suppliers have gone through the training, but not everyone in the industry was adhering to or taking advantage of the methodology behind it.
Having established, effective industry-standard training practices for coaching, embedded learning, knowledge management systems, etc., can improve an employee’s ability to install, use, maintain or repair advanced-technology equipment, which can increase productivity, reduce costs and encourage safety on the job.
The guide will recommend that performance improvement process be the basis for advanced-technology equipment training design and development, as well as that certain characteristics of performance-based training be present in all equipment training courses, programs and products.
Further, Gonzales said the guide will ease business operations for customers and suppliers negotiating purchases related to training, e-learning, performance support and knowledge management products and services.
“For example, when a semiconductor manufacturer such as Intel is purchasing expensive and intricately engineered equipment from a supplier such as KLA-Tencor, part of the purchasing process involves negotiating the training required for Intel equipment operators, service technicians or process engineers,” Gonzales said. “With this standard in place, the negotiation is significantly streamlined by a mutual expectation of equipment training delivery.”
Thus far, a balloting process in TPIC’s North American committee has not named any rejections for the guide. The next step is to put it out for consideration before a worldwide committee.
Gonzales said he hopes the guide will be approved and in place by the end of this year.
“A good thing about this is that a benchmark for equipment training best practices is now officially acknowledged and accepted throughout the industry,” Gonzales said. “This enables learning professionals to efficiently and effectively improve human technician performance, which directly optimizes tool performance. Everyone wins: customers, suppliers, even consumers.”
TPIC also will consider proposed standards for the use of simplified technical English applications, technical performance skill level identification, and/or certification, tools and methods for equipment and process simulation.