HSIN-CHU, Taiwan, July 12, 1999- In a move to further implement its 'virtual fab' initiative, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) (NYSE: TSM), the world's leading dedicated foundry, today launched a secure Web site that its customers can use to place orders and track work-in-progress (WIP).
Called TSMC On-Line, the new service, which will become available on July 30, gives all TSMC foundry customers the same real-time visibility of orders, WIP, and shipping status formally associated only with captive fabs.
"The term 'virtual fab' implies that we offer our customers services that are so seamless they feel like our facilities are located next to theirs," said F.C. Tseng, president of TSMC. "Our intent is to make our foundry services as transparent to customers as possible, so that they can run their operations as if they did, in fact, have their own dedicated fabs. TSMC On-Line is the latest offering to help enhance the virtual fab model for our customers."
In addition to WIP and shipping reports, TSMC On-Line provides a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week, one-stop shop for TSMC customers who need to place orders; review technical documentation, brochures or service manuals; or who want to place a general query.
The standardized browser-based interface saves companies the expense of developing custom tracking tools and matching them to the foundry's manufacturing and order entry databases. The benefits include tighter control of wafer lot starts and reduced cycle time.
"During our long-standing relationship with TSMC, we have always been impressed with its leading-edge technology and customer support. The introduction of TSMC On-Line takes the company to a level of customer service that will keep them ahead of the competition," said Jalil Shaikh, vice president of operations at Silicon Image. "As product life cycles shorten, it is increasingly important for us to be able to change production plans as market demands dictate. TSMC On-Line allows us to do that in real-time. In addition, it is incredibly easy to use and does not require any training on our side."
"In selecting a foundry partner, it is important to Tundra to have easy access to and control of our chips throughout the manufacturing process," said David Lisk, vice president of operations at Tundra Semiconductor. "TSMC On-Line is providing us with the power to understand and track every element of that process. This knowledge and the ease with which we can access this knowledge provides us with a communication flow and foundry relationship that was impossible in the past."
Chip company profits are enhanced by minimizing finished-goods inventory. This means that product managers must work closely with the fab to make certain that all chips in production are matched to customer orders, reps or distributors before they are diced and packaged. TSMC's new Web-based system allows this detailed tracking for both its fabless semiconductor partners and for IDMs that outsource through TSMC.
Many IDMs have begun to outsource significant portions of their product requirements to pure-play foundries, to help reduce the expense of building new fabs (presently around US$1.8 billion for state-of-the-art 0.18-micron generation process-technology capabilities). Until now, one disincentive to such outsourcing has been the difficulty of tracking wafer lots in real-time.
Services Provided by TSMC On-Line
Because it is Web-based and browser-accessed, TSMC On-Line is accessible worldwide, from any Internet-enabled PC. After contacting a TSMC sales office, TSMC customers receive a customer ID and password, which gives them secure access to the TSMC On-Line Web site.
TSMC On-Line offers options to manage and track every stage of the customer business cyc