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Enabling the digital world

ASM Technology Singapore is leveraging the Business Excellence Framework to help drive its vision of a data-centric society.

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By adopting the BE Framework, ATS has improved across different functions beyond just financial performance, and can also better assess its strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats ahead.

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"In adopting the BE Framework, there were a few challenges, but in working through the challenges, the various functions and teams benefitted in building closer collaboration and better performance," says Mr Lim.

BUSINESS excellence has long been a driving force for electronics equipment manufacturer ASM Technology Singapore (ATS). This translates to delivering innovative solutions to its customers while fostering a conducive work environment for its employees.

To accelerate its journey of continuous improvement, ATS decided to adopt the Business Excellence Framework in 2016 so that it could benchmark itself against world-class quality and management systems, as well as best practices.

To this end, it implemented systematic and structural improvements to make the organisation stronger and better-equipped for the challenges ahead. This quest for business excellence led ATS to attaining the Singapore Quality Class (SQC) certification last year, and topped it off by winning the Singapore Quality Award (SQA) this year.

By adopting the BE Framework, ATS has improved across different functions beyond just financial performance, and can also better assess its strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats ahead.

"We now have a more structured methodology of gathering and providing quantitative data for external customer satisfaction, enhancing innovation development and operational productivity, driving results and performance with our partners and suppliers, and creating a great workplace for our employees," said Patrick Lim, executive vice president (Corporate Operations), ASM Pacific Technology (ASMPT), who spearheaded the SQA process.

"We are also able to objectively evaluate our management systems, and be future-ready by strengthening our capabilities and knowledge in a sustainable manner. Furthermore, we can manage with agility, thereby achieving and sustaining our short- and long term goals and financial returns."

IMPROVING PROCESSES

As part of its BE journey, ATS has implemented new processes, or fine-tuned existing ones, to improve performance across its organisation.

With the implementation of a platform known as TIBCO Nimbus™, for instance, the company now has better control and management of its process flow and execution in all departments.

Nimbus is a business application for process documentation which presents an easy-to-understand visualisation of how people, processes, and systems should interact. This allows for more effective communication and helps to simplify processes.

Yet, implementing BE across the organisation came with its own set of obstacles, revealed Mr Lim. "In adopting the BE Framework, there were a few challenges, but in working through the challenges, the various functions and teams benefitted in building closer collaboration and better performance," he added.

For instance, all team members had to work and understand the BE Framework and adopt changes to their processes, even as they continued to cope with the workload of their daily jobs.

BE team members also had to attend regular meetings related to the certification process on top of their regular responsibilities.

There was also the issue of encouraging different departments within the company to "openly and unselfishly" share their best practices and areas for improvement. "But we found that once this challenge was overcome, we had built for ourselves a more cohesive and passionate team," shared Mr Lim.

A GROUP-WIDE PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE

ASMPT established ATS in 1990 as a research and development (R&D) centre and manufacturing base for its back-end equipment and materials business segments. Since 2011, ATS has been the group's global business headquarters, and is part of the global core team that is developing a suite of hardware, software and services to test smart factory solutions.

In recent years, ASMPT has emerged as a leading global player in the technology sector.

In 2018, Thomson Reuters named ASMPT as one of the world's "Top 100 Global Technology Leaders", joining the ranks of technology giants such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, Intel and IBM. And just this year, Forbes named ASMPT as one of nine Singapore companies in its inaugural "Asia's Best Over A Billion" list, which spotlights 200 top-performing listed companies across Asia-Pacific with revenues of US$1 billion or more.

Since 2016, ASMPT has been focused on a group-wide Business Excellence Programme for all its manufacturing facilities and R&D centres to align the group's processes and structures, in line with best practices globally.

During its own BE journey, ATS shared and learned from all the best practices across the group's global operations and business segments. The has resulted in the company standardising many of its practices and processes with the rest of the group.

FULFILLING A VISION

Going forward, ATS will continue to leverage the BE Framework to achieve its vision of "Enabling the Digital World".

This vision is built on four key goals:

  • To be a world market leader in semiconductor equipment manufacturing
  • To produce best-in-class semiconductor equipment
  • To provide excellent customer service and support; and
  • To invest in the future with an advanced product strategy.

Said Mr Lim: "The powerful focus of the BE Framework had enabled us to link our best practices both within the various departments in ATS and with our global organisation to drive our performance to greater heights."

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