At the forefront of energy-efficient electronics, transformative tech relies on the transformative potential of data
A customized analytics workflow in JMP® reduces unutilized engineering talent and saves money
|Challenge||As electronics manufacturers race to innovate more energy-efficient devices, system performance improvements are accelerating. Requirements for semiconductor components are therefore becoming more demanding: superior performance, lower costs, negligible failure rates and quicker time to market. While most companies have vast data streams from which to derive improvements, data management is often time consuming and costly.|
|Solution||At Vishay, JMP streamlines data management and analysis into one self-service workflow. With JMP, engineers have code-free tools for modeling, design of experiments, data visualization and Six Sigma – as well as custom scripts that have standardized best practices.|
|Results||Senior R&D Manager Fabrizio Ruo Redda reports three key benefits of JMP. For one, the software has significantly decreased costs as a result of an 83% reduction in data processing time. Second, engineering talent is now more fully utilized, with individuals empowered to actively seek improvement opportunities in their data. And third, Ruo Redda reports that since implementing JMP, morale within the R&D lab has skyrocketed with an internal survey showing a boost in satisfaction among employees from 3.7 out of 10 to 9.7 out of 10. JMP has become an essential partner in Vishay’s digital transformation, and Ruo Redda says, “[Without JMP] I believe we would have continued to make incremental improvements, but not realized the same level of business impact.”|
Scientific consensus urges that if the imminent threat of climate change is to be forestalled, nations must implement stringent limits on energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions on a global scale. But with growing demands for electricity worldwide, it is becoming increasingly challenging to curtail energy use without deepening access iniquities. By making energy conversion processes more efficient, innovators in the electronics industry are now playing a key role in shifting the global community toward sustainable energy use.
One of the leading champions of efficient energy conversion is multinational electronic component manufacturer Vishay. In its more than 50-year history, Vishay has grown from a small, patented foil resistor startup into one of the world’s most trusted manufacturers of electronic components including MOSFETs, power integrated circuits, diodes and rectifiers, optoelectronics, resistors, capacitors and inductors.
Today, Vishay’s products are used in virtually all types of electronics across a broad spectrum of industries – what Vishay calls “The DNA of techTM.” But system performance improvements are accelerating, and the requirements for semiconductor devices are becoming more and more demanding with calls for superior performance, lower costs, negligible failure rates and quicker time to market.
The role of R&D, explains Fabrizio Ruo Redda, Senior Manager of R&D at Vishay Semiconductor Italiana, is to accurately anticipate technology trends – especially those aiming to shrink global energy consumption – and provide timely solutions that match up with the market’s needs. That’s why the company has embraced a broad analytics culture that democratizes data-driven thinking.
“Innovation through data is a key characteristic of leading organizations,” says Ruo Redda. “The ability to analyze data and visually communicate results is critical to speeding up decisions with a low margin of error.”
As Vishay expands, a mature analytics culture emerges
Around the world, Vishay’s labs and production sites generate a sea of data every day. And automation is increasingly bringing together data streams from new and legacy systems under a vast digital infrastructure that can be mined for time- and cost-saving insights and opportunities. The challenge, however, is moving quickly from measurement to improvement, particularly when the amount and format of the data varies greatly between products and processes.
Key to turning data into insight, says Ruo Redda, is the integration of technological solutions to manage engineering teams’ highly complex data access and analysis workflows. If Vishay’s products are The DNA of tech, data are the nucleotides of that DNA.
Ruo Redda, a Six Sigma Master Black Belt, divides his time between traditional R&D engineering, coordinating the design, development and release of new products; managing a characterization lab and deploying a Six Sigma ethos across the organization via analytics training and coaching.
“At Vishay Semiconductor Italiana, analytics culture is part of our DNA – and it improves day after day,” he says. “I believe that the best results are achieved when analytic skill and technical competence are merged, fostering Lean Six Sigma culture deployment.”
Ruo Redda explains that what makes an analytically mature organization is not just its data infrastructure, but how that data is used by engineers and technicians on a daily basis. “Data alone are useless,” he says. Six Sigma is a philosophy that requires practitioners to not only understand but also operationalize its tenets. And, says Ruo Redda, putting the right tools into the hands of engineers is indispensable in their success in implementing Six Sigma’s precepts; democratize the tool and you democratize analytics.
A tool upgrade keeps R&D teams nimble, reducing data preparation time by 83%
Like many in semiconductor R&D, Ruo Redda had long used Excel for industrial statistics. But as Vishay’s customers have become more data-savvy themselves in the past 10 or 15 years, Ruo Redda says the demand pushed far beyond Excel’s limited capacity. Simply put: “The way data were provided was not in line with customer expectations.”
In search of a new tool, Ruo Redda learned of JMP statistical discovery software from SAS. JMP, he says, “was the right tool to speed up data analysis and share results through visual information.” Moreover, the tool was tightly aligned with the broader electronics industry’s data revolution, and therefore better able to deliver on customer standards.
The software’s greatest benefit, however, is that JMP offers an all-in-one workflow, Ruo Redda says. With its capacity to digest, sort and convert data streams to standardized formats, JMP becomes a key part of the engineering process; users can query data from different systems and analyze it all within one tool. By contrast, with Excel and other previous standard software packages, data had to be carefully curated and cleaned to align metadata and avert system crashes.
“We generally consider inefficiencies to be a waste in the data analysis process, from data gathering to communicating results,” explains Ruo Redda. “There is waste when you collect more data than you need and perform more analysis than necessary.” The JMP workflow overcomes data silos, streamlining the entire data preparation process.
One key metric for Ruo Redda was the time necessary for his group to process data after collection from around the production facility. The team’s deliverable was for other internal teams to process and make improvements and changes. Because the time lag was clearly visible across various departments, Ruo Redda wrote specifications to define the parameters of the data transfer, including all steps and characteristics.
The previous software package utilized by Ruo Redda’s team had repetitive tasks that wasted vital turn time and pulled resources from communication and proper conclusion review. By implementing JMP, Ruo Redda estimates that the lab reduced data preparation time by as much as 83%. “With the new system it is now possible to perform detailed data analysis with minimum effort and lower risk of error,” he says. “Analysis that in the past required days of work to integrate data from different systems can now be done in minutes, fostering innovation through data.”
The customized JMP® workflow increases engineers’ utilization
Vishay’s R&D lab alone generates a huge volume of data on a daily basis as it develops new test systems and subjects new products to rigorous testing. With its own scripting language, JSL, JMP is easily customized to connect seamlessly with the lab’s existing systems infrastructure, consolidating solutions that are already in place. For example, Ruo Redda explains that custom scripts have created a bridge between lab data and a SQL database, which then serves the data to satisfy customers’ needs.
JSL was designed with a modular approach to provide flexibility for managing new products and new test systems. Scripting now automates the graphical generation of standardized reports for both lab engineers and other internal teams, providing analysis alongside a visual data quality check.
“The integration of the analysis platform with the scripting language is what makes JMP a very powerful tool,” Ruo Redda says. “You can learn basic scripting very easily and use it at your convenience.” Statistical tools for tasks like design of experiments, predictive modeling and data visualization don’t require custom coding, as “JMP’s graphical capabilities are a strong point.”
Though not all JMP users at Vishay are coders, custom JMP journals scripted by more advanced users and rolled out to the broader team make analysis faster, easier and more replicable. Users are therefore now able to pull data from anywhere and standardize on best practices, ultimately increasing engineers’ utilization across the board.
By empowering engineers and scientists to solve data problems themselves – and adopt common best practices – statistical experts now have more time to devote to some of the company’s most complex and value-adding challenges.
A culture of data innovation boosts morale and helps Vishay attract and retain some of the world’s brightest engineering talent
While cost reduction and time savings remain a key goal of Vishay’s leadership, perhaps the most important metric of the company’s embrace of analytics culture lies in its ability to attract and retain some of the world’s brightest and most talented engineers.
Ruo Redda explains that the cultural and motivational benefits of standardizing around the JMP workflow has fostered an empowering, innovation-minded environment. With streamlined data processing, engineers no longer have to spend time performing tedious data preparation tasks. Instead, they are freed up to pursue new ideas that will push the next generation of Vishay’s products to the limit – the kind of unbounded challenges that make engineering such an exciting profession. Since implementing JMP, Ruo Redda says internal satisfaction surveys within the R&D lab have shown a dramatic change: from 3.7 (“somewhat dissatisfied”) to 9.7 out of 10 (“very satisfied”).
Vishay invested early on in the best and brightest engineering talent, and it has since invested in a culture of innovation that keeps engineers excited about coming to work every day. And as technology has evolved, Vishay has invested in digital transformation initiatives to make its R&D organization more data-driven.
By also investing in JMP and its unified workflow, Vishay is creating value not just for those using the software, but also for the people who would normally have to support, manage or make decisions from the data. “[Without JMP] I believe we would have continued to make incremental improvements,” says Ruo Redda, “but not realized the same level of business impact.”