Background to Implementation
The Essence of Semiconductor Manufacturing is Rapid Response to Unforeseen Circumstances
First inventing NAND flash memory in 1987, then establishing 3D flash memory technology in 2007, KIOXIA Group continues to be a global leader in the semiconductor memory industry. Within KIOXIA Group, the KIOXIA Iwate Corporation (“KIOXIA Iwate”) has implemented the largest manufacturing building and most advanced facilities, and it is responsible for production of BiCS FLASH™ 3D flash memory.
“Since semiconductor development and manufacturing test the physical limits of the process, they are different from other types of manufacturing and are similar to agriculture, in a sense,” said KIOXIA Iwate President and CEO Koichiro Shibayama. He explains that, when pushed to the physical limits, unexpected events are more likely to occur and it is not uncommon for things to deviate from the plan. “The essence of this industry is actually dealing with these unexpected events in itself. This is what makes it so hard for other companies to enter the industry.”
To enable this, it is essential to rapidly gather massive amounts of data generated at factories and make quick management decisions with respect to circumstances that are changing day by day. For that reason, KIOXIA Iwate is working to transform its plants into smart factories, and these factories generate billions of units of data on a daily basis, Shibayama explains.
“For example, if manufacturing equipment breaks down, we have to quickly determine what kind of specialist to call and what parts to replace. Semiconductor supplies, which are already strained, may be delayed if these decisions come too late. Of course, manual processing of this incoming data will never get it ready in time. Instead, we need a way to instantly see the data with one click and use it in our decision-making right then and there.”
Tableau Implementation and Operation
One Year After Implementation, Half of Personnel are Tableau Users
What should we do to address these needs? The answer that KIOXIA Iwate drew to this conclusion: Tableau.
“We started developing a plan to create a venue for sharing information in May 2020, but we didn’t have a specific tool in mind at first,” said Naoyuki Ando, General Manager of the IT Promotion Department at KIOXIA Iwate. They started out by having outside consultants come in to teach them the tools and state of affairs. “Then we had them suggest three types of products, and in July 2020 we decided to use Tableau.”
The IT Promotion Department had never used Tableau before, so they began by mastering the tool through training provided by Tableau Software, Inc. Tableau Software, Inc. was also asked to handle data collection and other environment-building, and implementation took place between summer and fall 2020. Next, we began working on visualizing manufacturing data. Budget control was implemented for daily manufacturing activities, and data on equipment problems was shared.
In April 2021, we began operating dashboards for quality control (e.g. yield rates) and dashboards for manufacturing management that import data from production planning systems. In August 2021, manufacturing-related dashboards were expanded further.
“Starting with around ten users initially, we now have approximately 500 people using Tableau, which is half of our company’s total workforce,” explains Sho Hironai, IT Promotion Lead in the IT Promotion Department of KIOXIA Iwate. “Ultimately, we want to expand Tableau to all personnel except frontline workers.”