Heading off breakdowns (sidebar)

Nov. 1, 2003
Ensuring the spec before sending the check

While Intel Corp. has seen major benefits from its facilities equipment predictive maintenance program, the company is also seeing payoffs in an unanticipated area, says Mick Flanigan, predictive program maintenance manager at the company’s Hillsboro, Ore., facility.

Intel is not only using its handheld condition monitoring and vibration analysis tools for predictive maintenance on existing equipment, but is now also using the equipment for acceptance testing. Tests on newly purchased facilities equipment are performed before and after installation, prior to warranty start dates, to ensure that the equipment meets Intel’s manufacturing standards, Flanigan explains.

The advantages are clear. If new equipment is brought online without meeting Intel’s specifications, process abnormalities can and do occur. Undue vibration in facilities equipment can trigger shifts in chip-making equipment calibrations. Further, says Flanigan, “we’re driving our vendors to give us better quality equipment. We’re tired of having a warranty that lasts a year, and then two months after the warranty expires, we find ourselves replacing the whole piece of equipment because it’s destroying itself,” he declares.

The new acceptance testing procedure has been used on a couple of plant start-ups, says Flanigan. “Now, we’re not tagging equipment as ours until it meets our vibration criteria, our infrared criteria and many other processes as well,” Flanigan says. “When we bring this equipment into our facility, we have better assurance that it’s going to last beyond the warranty. Surprisingly, this is the area of the program where we’ve seen our biggest hard cost savings.”

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