Impact through collaboration

Meet George Tao, who turns time constraints into team triumphs

3-minute read - , January 24, 2024

This story is part of our 2023 Annual Report. Read the full report.

“You can see the impact of our collaboration in the commercial results of ASML and our customers.”

 

As a director of customer service applications, George Tao works with one of ASML’s leading customers to bring the latest in chip technology to market fast. His team works with the customer and many other ASML teams to ramp up the output of wafers processed by our latest generations of lithography systems, so that our customers can meet their commitments to their own customers and that consumers can enjoy new products, features and performance.

Planning that drives progress

When customers plan a new chipmaking facility, they must think carefully about capacity. They are making commitments to their own customers about how many chips they can deliver, but they also need to ensure the facility is economically viable. Lithography systems are the central tool in the chipmaking process and customers need to know how many wafers our lithography systems can process per day to ensure they make achievable volume commitments.

Early access gives market edge

For leading-edge customers, being at the forefront of lithography technology, in terms of resolution and/or productivity, is essential to their business. They want early access to new lithography technologies so that they can start developing new processes faster and bring new generations of chips to market earlier. As a result, they often make capacity decisions based on the projected output of our latest systems – systems that we are currently building. They are willing to take delivery of systems before the new model is properly mature to get access to that technology as soon as possible. However, when you deliver systems before they are fully mature, they can’t always achieve the agreed targeted output. Yet the customer is still under commercial pressure to bring the new technology to full volume fast. So, ASML is also under commercial pressure to bring the new systems up to the agreed targeted output within the customer’s set up as fast as possible.

Up to speed fast

That’s where my team comes in. Working with other ASML teams, our job is to close the gap between initial capability and the agreed output as quickly as possible – and then to keep pushing outputs higher by improving throughput and/or system availability. To do that, we work extremely closely with the customer, drawing on our front-line customer support staff who are permanently located at the customer’s facility and have weekly meetings with engineers and managers.

Close collaboration is key

We identify the gaps by looking at results from our own test procedures as well as the customer’s production data. Once we have identified where productivity gains can be made, we develop an action list to make it happen. Some actions are for the customer, for example to improve their efficiency, while others are handled jointly via our weekly engineering meetings. Finally, there are ASML actions, such as upgrading a component or validating a new system option. In these cases, my team is the central contact between the customer and the different groups within ASML, including the business, development & engineering and customer support. That close internal collaboration is essential to make the necessary improvements on time.

 

Having a dedicated productivity team – with support from ASML internal partners – is crucial in helping customers bring the cutting-edge lithography technologies to volume. Despite the commercial pressures, the customer appreciates our contribution. Both sides have a very data-driven culture, which helps the chemistry between us – they understand that everything we do comes from the data. Moreover, they know we share their determination to improve performance, to help them meet their customer commitments and push the technology forward together.

This story comes from our 2023 Annual Report which features people at ASML and the impact they are having on the company and society.

 

Click on one of the people profiles below to read more stories.