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Archive for October, 2015

Transition to ISO 9001:2015: Starting the Journey

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

The official introduction of ISO 9001: 2015 in September provides an opportunity for a completely fresh look at Quality Management Systems (QMS). While at first it may appear that there are many changes within the detail of the standard, it is important to remember that the key management principle of CUSTOMER FOCUS remains unchanged.

The most visible change from the 2008 standard is the adoption of the High Level Structure. This will form the basis of all ISO management systems going forward to give them all the same look and feel along with identical core text and common definitions. This will greatly aid organizations in integrating multiple management system standards effectively and efficiently. For example, their management systems for quality (ISO 9001), environment (ISO 14001) and safety (ISO 45001), which will replace OSHAS 18001 next year) will all have the same structure and definitions, thus avoiding conflicts, duplication, and potential misunderstanding across standards.

Within the standard and the guiding principles, there is now much more emphasis on LEADERSHIP (section 5) and ENGAGEMENT rather than management and involvement. This is consistent with other organizational development processes that move from a basic implementation of the management principles to one that is embraced and ‘lived’ by the whole organization.

This engaged activity needs to both reflect and support the CONTEXT OF THE ORGANIZATION (section 4). This is a new section that defines the external and internal issues that can impact what the organization does not only in its current activities but also in its strategic direction. This allows for the management system to not only cover legal, regulatory, or contractual requirements, but also more forward-looking market assurance and governance goals. The scope of the management system needs careful definition to ensure it is meeting the needs and expectations of all interested parties.

This more forward-looking and proactive approach is also reflected in PLANNING (section 6) and IMPROVEMENT (section 10) where there is a new focus on RISK and OPPORTUNITY management all within the context of the organization. This provides greater emphasis on improving processes to not just prevent non-conformities, but also on improving products and services to meet known and predicted requirements. For the electronics industries in particular, this last requirement is critical. Together we face demanding customer needs to meet advanced technology node requirements in terms of purity and process control; the revised ISO 9001 quality management system provides guidelines to help materials providers work toward these requirements in a structured and consistent manner.

We know our customers’ requirements continually evolve and our management systems need to reflect this. This new ISO standard provides impetus to once again revise and update our quality and other management systems to ensure customer needs are met both now and in the future. Our teams are actively planning for the ISO 9001: 2015 changes and we are happy to discuss our high-level planning with our partners.


This blog post was contributed by Greg Shuttleworth, Technical Quality Manager, Linde Electronics. For more information, contact Francesca Brava at

Advanced Node Semiconductor Materials Reliance on SQC

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

The semiconductor manufacturing industry is driven by the continuous quest for economical production of smaller, more powerful, and more energy-efficient chips in a fiercely competitive environment. Fabrication facilities operate up to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year producing hundreds of identical die (unpackaged chips) on single silicon wafers that each undergo over 600 processing steps, taking up to 60 days of processing time from start to finish.

Companies at the forefront of the industry are utilizing advanced node semiconductor manufacturing techniques to produce the current generation of chips used in mass market consumer electronic devices. A chip can contain billions of transistors and the structure of these units has evolved from planar to 3D architecture. The latest technology node in production uses devices where the smallest printed feature is just 14nm in width (by contrast, a single piece of paper is 100,000nm thick) and deposited films can be counted in numbers of atomic layers.

Implementing an additional dimension to transistor architecture increases both manufacturing complexity and cost. Enormous financial commitments are required to be competitive in this industry, with annual R&D and capital investments in the order of $10B USD. It is no wonder that quality expectations of materials used in advanced node semiconductor manufacturing are unrivalled in their stringency.

One tool Linde uses to ensure that their suppliers meet these meticulous quality requirements is Statistical Quality Control (SQC): the use of statistical methods to monitor and control a process. In SQC, process data is used to calculate upper and lower control limits, which are distinct from specification limits. There are a number of control chart trend rules (Western Electric Rules) used in SQC to identify unusual occurrences. The most basic of these is rule #1 – one point beyond either control limit – and this must be adopted in application of SQC.

Linde requests SQC control charts from their suppliers on a quarterly basis to ensure that incoming materials received are high-quality, consistent, and predictable in performance and that potential instabilities in product characteristics are identified early.

The figure below shows a simplified example of a SQC chart for Material Y produced by a supplier using moisture content as a key control parameter being monitored and assuming one batch produced per day. All values are hypothetical.

This level of focus on stability is crucial to semiconductor customers, who can already link deposited film thickness variations to minor cylinder-to-cylinder product differences. As semiconductor manufacturing technology continues to advance to smaller and more complex geometries, there will be even greater emphasis on impurity specifications and tighter control limits.

Linde’s semiconductor customers inhabit a global, fast-paced, high-precision manufacturing environment. Supporting customers in this environment requires Linde to engage in active collaboration with their suppliers in areas such as implementation of robust SQC processes. Through this approach, Linde contributes to establishing the high-quality supply chain required to enable success for their customers.


This blog post was contributed by Ryan McGrath, Head of Global Quality Management, Linde Electronics. For more information, contact Francesca Brava at

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