It All Starts With Customer Discussions

By Anna-Riikka Vuorikari-Antikainen

Senior Vice President, Products, Okmetic

Customer orientation is the foundation for all our operations and an integral part of our development work. The roots of our own development projects and those made in co-operation with our customers lie in customer discussions. I have witnessed these discussions so many times in so many places around the world:

Instead of browsing through formal PowerPoint presentations, Okmetic’s and the customer’s engineers move over to the flip chart to think about a solution for a common problem or to develop a future killer application. There arises swarming with drawings and diagrams accompanied by an intense discussion. The engineers define the end product design, process flow chart, temperature ramps, etching processes, as well as silicon wafers’ various parameters and different ways of optimizing the wafers’ features to the customer’s process. A common language is the universal language of engineering. Every now and then the engineers ponder a solution with their own teams and then again they gather together around the flip chart.

Such opportunities for this kind of dialogue and co-operation between the customer’s and Okmetic’s engineers arise when Okmetic’s sales and technical customer support personnel visit existing and potential customers in different parts of the world. These discussions with customers are a very important input to our product and process development work, which is based on understanding our customers’ current and future needs, as well as on the ability and willingness to resolve our customers’ challenges and to supply their products with optimized wafers.

Customer’s processes and needs also guide our everyday work. In our own internal training sessions, we talk with our engineers about the topics that have come up in discussions with the customers such as customers’ processes, end products, and market development. We aim at transforming the customer need to silicon wafers’ and production processes’ development need as well as at identifying critical development targets in an early stage. In addition to the development of new products, consumer orientation can be seen in our daily work for improving yields, costs, and work methods.

The personnel working in the customer interface are thus not the only ones aware of the customer needs but they are being discussed over throughout the entire organization. In our personnel questionnaire, we usually receive high scores to the statement “I know what our customers expect from us” from both the white-collar and blue-collar employees. This reflects that customers and their needs are truly a part of our undertakings, and the time spent on discussing of those needs brings results.

Within the limits of confidentiality we also distribute information of successful products and customer breakthroughs in the end market to everyone in our organization. In this way, our personnel are able to actually see the outcome of their work, and as such, one of Okmetic’s core values, customer orientation, concretes. Hence, the discussions with customers are truly valuable, and I hope that the engineers will continue to gather around the flip chart to think about solutions to various challenges and to envision future killer applications.

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