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Speed-to-Market Drives Industry Dominance

How to win the race without compromising quality, accuracy, safety, or IP protection?

In the semiconductor industry, time-to-market is everything.  For a new chip design, the elapsed time from concept to production in a new fabrication plant can be as little as eighteen months.  In this hyper-competitive environment, being first to market can translate to billions of dollars in revenue and, by extension, enable the winner to drive market direction for future generations. 

A semiconductor fabrication plant, commonly known as a fab, is a futuristic marvel costing billions of dollars to design and construct.  At a fab’s core is the clean room, an area filled with multi-million dollar manufacturing tools, where the environment is carefully controlled to eliminate dust and vibration.  The clean room is surrounded by support systems including precise climate control and vibration damping, exotic (and often hazardous) chemical storage and supply lines, electrical supplies, worker safety systems, and much more. 

Under normal circumstances, designing, building, and testing something as complex as a fab is a monumental task.  Add to this unmovable time constraints, exacting manufacturing requirements, strict protection of intellectual property, hazardous chemical and electrical environments, and a construction site with as many as 5,000 onsite workers, and the challenge becomes daunting. 

Because of a fab’s complexity and the breakneck pace of construction, multiple trades (contractors and specialty subcontractors) are required to build out the same physical spaces simultaneously.  Understanding what already exists in those spaces (often behind walls and other obstructions) and what is planned to occupy those spaces in the future are vital to meeting schedule constraints, manufacturing requirements, and worker / operator safety.   

Leave it to the experts

This client, a renowned innovator and global leader in semiconductor manufacturing, recognized that providing accurate, up-to-date as-built construction drawings to its trades would enable them to meet its exacting schedule, quality, and safety requirements. 

Based on our stellar track record of providing outsourced services in other areas, Access Sciences was asked to fulfill this need with an embedded team of CAD / BIM specialists.  In this role, the Access Sciences team maintains a library of standardized as-built drawings and specifications.  When a trade is scheduled to work on a space, our team provides up-to-date drawings and specifications.  Upon completion of its work, the trade returns revised drawings and specifications to the Access Sciences team who then integrates the revisions into the as-built masters. 

While managing as-built drawings sounds deceptively simple, it is anything but.  This client typically has 5-7 fabs under design / construction at any one time[1].  Fab projects can span multiple sites, with numerous trade partners, equally numerous methods of delivery, and varying project schedule durations.  This is further complicated by our team’s need to monitor and manage the trades’ use of non-standard CAD / BIM applications, proficiency levels with these applications, and adherence to the client’s and national CAD standards.  Fulfilling all of these needs in real time is a high speed juggling act with no margin for error.

Once a fab is in production, the need to manage its information remains.  The Access Sciences team’s responsibilities also include ongoing management of a fab’s drawings for owner maintenance, safety training, inspections, land use history, revision history, and eventual demolition.  If drawings are not curated effectively, incomplete or inaccurate information can be relied upon with potential safety and legal ramifications, historical information may be lost, required documents may not be available for inspectors or owners, and costly new surveys and scans may become necessary to recreate missing records.

Lean on our experts – focus on your core business

Our client relies on Access Sciences’ dedicated team of information management experts to:

  • Minimize time-to-market, driving revenue, profitability, and competitive advantage
  • Ensure the accuracy of as-built drawings, in support of exacting manufacturing requirements and worker / operator safety
  • Manage drawing quality so that it is consistent across projects and meets client and national CAD standards
  • Protect the client’s invaluable intellectual property assets
  • Curate the client’s drawings to support the fab’s lifecycle

By outsourcing its CAD / BIM function to Access Sciences, this client is able to focus on its core business of designing, manufacturing, marketing, and selling semiconductors.

[1] as of this writing, there are 5.

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