improvement in utilization rate


machines connected to Machine Track

The Finnish Okmetic is one of the ten largest silicon wafer manufacturers in the world. In its area of expertise, i.e. silicon products that are suitable for sensor technology, it’s the most important company in the world. Although many significant silicon wafer manufacturers are facing serious sales and cost problems, Okmetic is expanding its production.

Production manager Jari Ahtola says that the decision to expand is well-founded. It’s based on a clear picture of the previous operations of the factory and on knowing which pieces of machinery play a central role in the whole. The utilisation rate of the existing production is known very well, so it has been possible to draw up some rather precise calculations for the investments; the evaluation of the performance of the factory hasn’t been based on mere opinions.

Production development in the lean spirit

“In 2003, the systematic development of the operations started, following the principles of lean production. The analytical monitoring of the production started at the end of 2007 when a piece of machinery started using Machine Track. It immediately showed that the cutter used for the silicon crystals failed to use 30 percent of its true capacity,” Ahtola says.

The factory only had one crystal cutter and its utilisation rate was a critical factor for the whole production. The operating staff felt that a new cutter was needed alongside the old one. Only when measurements were made, it was revealed that almost a third of the capacity was wasted because of irrational practices.

Now there are 122 machines connected to Machine Track. “The greatest benefit offered by the Machine Track is the monitoring of the utilisation rate. It gives us a fact-based calculation about whether the existing capacity has been exhausted and whether the need for investment is genuine.  When it came to the cutter, the general feeling was that its capacity had been fully exploited,” Ahtola says.

Considerable improvement

Okmetic has rationalised its practices in many ways, not only through the use of Machine Track. Ahtola says that with many machines the utilisation rate has increased by up to 20 percent.  However, monitoring still reveals a lot of details that could be boosted, even after everything is already believed to have been tuned up to the maximum.

The impact of product groups on the production rate will also be revealed, which in turn uncovers the optimal production series and production order. This especially helps with predicting the capacity. In other words, Production is able to give Sales accurate information about the production schedule, and any delays in use – such as delays caused by set-up times – are known well in advance.

Okmetic Oyj

Okmetic is the seventh largest silicon wafer maker in the world.
Founded in 1985.

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