Why Product Lifecycle Management is Crucial to the Success of the Semiconductor Industry

Nov 15, 2021
High-Tech | 8 min READ
By leveraging product information across the enterprise and enabling collaborative work processes, the deployment of PLM significantly augments semiconductor business performance. A PLM supports companies in strengthening key business drivers such as product development, design collaboration, supply chain, product requirements management, operations management, strategic direct-material sourcing, global resource utilization, to name a few.
Nitin Jindal
Nitin Jindal

Digital Partner

CMT Vertical


The Evolution of PLM in Semiconductor Manufacturing
Today's semiconductor device companies are facing the adverse impact of disruptive forces from multiple fronts. Driven by changing marketing demand, semiconductor companies have been forced to redesign their business model. Hyper-fragmented market needs, escalating design costs, growing product complexity, shrinking average sales prices, and the relentless pace of innovation put intense pressure on the semiconductor companies. Coupled with the industry's daunting design challenges, accelerated lifecycles, and complex supply chains, it is no wonder that product launch dates, development budgets, and quality targets are frequently missed.
With innovative cycles of the semiconductor industry more complex than ever before, future-forward companies are fast-moving to product lifecycle management (PLM) to drive profitable growth. A PLM system connects people, data, processes, and systems throughout the design and manufacturing flow. PLM deployment aids companies in attaining a single version of the truth for all product information while facilitating collaboration with global customers, supply chain and manufacturing partners, and design centers. This ultimately results in lower product costs, reduced time-to-market, improved quality and reliability, and ensured regulatory compliance for semiconductor companies.
The Need for Robust PLM in Semiconductor Manufacturing
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Aiming to reduce time to market (TTM), semiconductor companies should look at deploying the best in class end-to-end product lifecycle management (PLM) software as it helps companies overcome product complexity, react to changing requirements and gain insights to predict market trends. By implementing an efficient PLM system to maintain collaboration for all product data, including; specification, intellectual property (IP), validation, verification information, semiconductor companies can achieve their business goals faster.
By implementing PLM, semiconductor companies can realize significant benefits, including a centralized, single version of the truth for all product data; improved collaboration, control and communication of product design, development and engineering change order information; improved chip quality, design, development productivity and manufacturability of ICs; enhanced design and elimination of rework by enabling input from multiple parties early in the product development process; reduced cycle times and time-to-market through standardization of processes and tools, etc. With industries slowly transitioning into digital enterprises where all the processes such as product design, manufacturing processes, services & support, and customer experiences are connected via a digital thread, PLM solutions offer the foundational structure and framework for implementing the digital twin, which is fast becoming an integral part of the overall digital transformation.
Why Product Lifecycle Management is Crucial to the Success of the Semiconductor Industry
Compliance With Semiconductor Industry Regulations
Efficient compliance management becomes an easy-to-achieve target with PLM in place. Semiconductor companies can easily obtain and authenticate supplier declarations with fully integrated PLM capabilities and automatically aggregate materials into the product BOM to grade compliance. PLM also becomes advantageous in addressing stricter environmental requirements and staying compliant efficiently. Using PLM for compliance equips manufacturers with complete data traceability from the initial design stages right through to product launch. Industry-specific applications dramatically simplify the entire compliance process by guaranteeing businesses can meet particular regulations from the very outset.
Design Cycle Acceleration
Consumers have an insatiable desire to go for the latest technology, smartphones, or any other advanced electronics, which have forced semiconductor companies to accelerate time to market. While meeting customers' expectations is one part of the business, semiconductor companies can't start designing a product from scratch, which entails that IP reuse and derivative designs will be the norms as we move ahead. Such changing dynamics require an effective lifecycle management system to manage the semiconductor IP.
Leveraging PLM capabilities to manage IP also facilitates a design manager or engineer to quickly access existing IP that may be reused in a design. PLM facilitates access to the correct version of IP and builds the relationships and linkages to enable the reusable IP owners to support the design, even if that IP originates from various cross-functional organizations or groups. This can drastically reduce time to market and design timelines and improve the quality of the IP/design.
Simplified Change Management
The number of re-spins stemming from poor IP integration and the addition of problematic IP in IC design can prove to be an expensive affair. In such cases, it is important to include an integrated Bug and Change Management system with a design repository to perform impact and root cause analysis of design changes and issues before taking to the fab. Change management imposes control over revisions to designs, items, and records during the many phases of the product lifecycle, including development and production till the end-of-life.
PLM allows change management workflows to help departments automate and document revisions for enterprise-wide visibility and traceability. In doing so, all engineering and manufacturing change requests and change orders remain to become fully traceable in a centralized system. Any authorized person can access historical change information to check who was involved and when items were modified, etc. It helped manage change processes in one location to avoid disconnected work and lost information, conducts systematically auditable processes that include electronic signatures, and tracks compliance to regulations.
Why Product Lifecycle Management is Crucial to the Success of the Semiconductor Industry
Product Design & Development Fixes Early On
Reducing the cost of a formulation or design is a crucial benefit achieved by deploying PLM. With the advancements in PLM, capabilities expanded to include workflow, program management, and project control features that standardize, automate, and speed up operations. Today's PLM solutions empower companies to manage all the information about their products, from initial concept to production, within a single information environment that links product-related data and processes across a company's value chain of customers, employees, partners, and suppliers. All product data elements are incorporated and tied to internal and external teams' critical processes and tasks.
For many products, development doesn't end with delivery to customers. It requires continuous improvement and maintenance to complete a product lifecycle. PLM tools can greatly aid in improving aftermarket product management and enhance transparency. By capturing users' feedback from users, companies can utilize that data to enhance product development capabilities. PLM facilitates design & process modifications in the entire process to run at the same time. For instance, when a product is in the design and engineering phase, PLM permits changes to happen as the design is being tested. The ability to design in real-time accelerates the completion of a final product, which in turn speeds up time-to-market and subsequently profit margins.
Supplier and Part Compliance
The semiconductor value chain relies on a large number of materials and equipment suppliers spread across the globe. While the industry has adopted supplier relationship management (SRM) practices, these programs don't prove beneficial to a greater extent. Gaining visibility into such an extended hierarchy has been challenging for most industries, and it has become a nightmare, especially for semiconductor companies. An end-to-end PLM system dramatically enhances visibility into their supplier base, drives real-time decision-making for optimized capacity, and proactively manages semiconductor supply chain risk and resilience. When we talk about supplier & part compliance, Bill of materials (BOM) management takes center stage, forming the core of a PLM. Through PLM, companies can receive accurate product definitions, source information, manufacturing data, documentation, and pricing through BOM. BOM management encompasses engineering design, design collaboration, sourcing and procurement, and go-to-market strategy. Semiconductor companies need to ensure that BOM management also incorporates external collaboration with partners, suppliers, and sales channels to succeed in the market.
Highly Efficient Product Development Process
Gathering and scrutinizing the data sets across a semiconductor company's global supply chain permits employees from operations, engineering, and executive management to create several key metrics to achieve the semiconductor company's manufacturing goals intended to improve yield and quality, and productivity. PLM stands tall among enterprise applications because of its ability to integrate product design & development information and processes across the enterprise systems. PLM offers the processes and workflow for successfully managing products throughout the complete innovation lifecycle and across dispersed locations, within the company and throughout the value chain.
Cost Optimization
In a highly price-competitive electronics & semiconductor market where unit cost is an important decision factor in a high-volume contract, cost analysis, management, and visibility are critical to securing sourcing opportunities while maintaining profitability. PLM offers an integrated product cost management platform to help companies develop accurate and repeatable costing models that take into account multiple costing factors from materials, tooling, manufacturing processes, and the value chain. For instance, by actively supervising internal and external supply chain costs in the product design phase, companies have significantly reduced the cost of their products, and this has been made possible by deploying an integrated PLM system. Besides, cost transparency enhances a firm's profitability, and modern PLM software offers greater accuracy and cost savings that might otherwise get missed out on by semiconductor companies. Cost management helps gather information early on, letting manufacturers assess and avoid possible delivery or cost issues and preventing product launch hiccups.
Data Management for Manufacturing Optimization
Data management capabilities are often viewed as the foundational element for an effective PLM system, which comprises the main semiconductor product record. The functionality for this product record can be used to logically link all information related to a product and manage changes to that information over time, providing a single version of the truth across the value chain of customers, employees, partners, and suppliers. Capturing technical specifications, design definitions, production schedules, test reports, sourcing plans, quality inspections, etc., an effective PLM makes life simpler for semiconductor companies by capturing the right set of data and interpreting it to their business advantage. The real power of PLM data can be gained once combined with real-time data from IoT. By utilizing analytics to product design and product field data, companies are able to bring in product performance optimization, create new products, manage quality issues before the product is released to the market, etc.
PLM – fundamental to digital transformation strategy – forms the core of a business strategy to empower digital continuity across the enterprise – from ideation to the product launch. Investing in next-generation PLM solutions is prudent to upkeep a flexible and focused business infrastructure, which is proficient at driving businesses and responding to changing market requirements. For semiconductor companies who are always under tremendous pressure to guarantee faster time to market, a well-articulated PLM strategy is a MUST!
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