With consumer electronics trending toward lower power consumption, more diverse features, higher price sensitivity, to keep up with market demand, semiconductor manufacturers not only keep on refining process technologies but also are beginning to bring production closer to where their customers are in an attempt to speed up shipment while lowering fabrication costs. This has become an essential strategy for the semiconductor industry. Acting in correspondence, MSScorps is also initiating efforts toward expanding its market footprint.
According to MSScorps chairman Gino Leou, MSScorps is making big strides and the year 2019 marks a major milestone for the company. Going forward, MSScorps will be able to more closely support customers with high-quality analytics services through its five operation centers across Taiwan and China.
Leou co-founded MSScorps with CTO Dr. JC Chen and COO Yung-Shun Liao in July 2005 at a location on Pu-ding Road in Hsinchu. Through years of building up its task force and technological strength, the MSScorps team has grown from 10 to 280 people and is now highly regarded in the industry for its premium-quality services. In March 2019, MSScorps initiated a round of fundraising and received NT$530 million in investments from several large financial firms and venture capital funds in Taiwan. With technology, talent and capital all in place, MSScorps has begun to expand its operation by purchasing additional equipment for its Hsinchu and Tainan branches and setting up a new Nanjing subsidiary, which will be up and running in June 2019 to provide comprehensive material analysis (MA), failure analysis (FA) and surface analysis (SA) services.
Establishing a Nanjing subsidiary, MSScorps targets the China market in full force
According to Liao, TSMC establishing fabrication facilities in Nanjing spurred an industry clustering effect. MSScorps has been planning to begin a subsidiary operation in the city for two years. After two years of efforts training a workforce and searching for a suitable location, MSScorps finally set its heart on a site only 1.5km from the TSMC Nanjing fab, enabling it to provide prompt services with zero delays.
In addition to local services, MSScorps brings to Nanjing its highly-praised professional talent and equipment. MSScorps executives have relocated with a team of Taiwanese engineers and sales specialists to the Nanjing office, where a complete range of advanced equipment is also in place. Liao notes material analysis is a confidential part of the semiconductor fabrication process. To ensure information security and consistent service quality, MSScorps chooses to run a centralized operation in the Nanjing office, where all material analysis work for the China market will be conducted. The Shanghai subsidiary and other regional offices will focus on market development and sales services. Due to the country's vast territory, customers in China are more understanding that delivery takes some time. Also with China's complete logistics system, same-day shipping is common so delivery schedule is no problem at all.
Chen notes MSScorps has advantages over its competitors in China in both technology and service quality. The Taiwan semiconductor industry has built up solid technological strength and extensive hands-on experiences through years of development. With its leading market position worldwide, the Taiwan semiconductor industry has unparalleled advantages, adds Chen. With respect to material analysis, China's massive demand for semiconductor production capacity imposes big challenges on material analysis service providers. China's local service providers have a hard time meeting the demand and their service quality also causes concern. They will not be able to win favors from leading foundries. This is what drives MSScorps to foray into China.
Professional talent will play a critical role influencing the outcome of market competition in China, says Liao. MSScorps has always conducted in-house training and education for its employees and has established a complete talent incubation system, which it will replicate in China. As to revenue outlook, it may be too early to give a precise projection, according to Liao. The machinery that has been put in place in the Nanjing office represents about 10% of MSScorps' total equipment so the Nanjing operation is expected to make a comparable contribution to the company's revenue in the initial stage. With China's state support for IC and LED industry developments, Liao is optimistic about MSScorps' future growth. There will be plans to purchase additional equipment, which Liao expects to contribute more than 30% of MSScorps' total revenue within the next three years. In general, he does not think it will be a problem to expand customer base as MSScorps is known for matching customer needs and he envisions a promising future for MSScorps.
With respect to technology, MSScorps has developed a myriad of industry-leading MA and FA techniques. According to Chen, MSScorps' independently developed Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) technology, instrument development and special sample preparation procedures are all examples of its unrivaled achievements. In particular, ALD is mainly used for sample preparation for MA and FA to keep samples intact for testing and prevent additional defects resulting from human errors. It is essential to semiconductor development as manufacturers drive process technologies toward miniaturization.
As to EUV photoresist and low-k dielectric materials that are critical to the most advanced 5nm and 3nm process technologies, their natural characteristics make them susceptible to man-made problems such as deformation and collapse when observed under an electronic microscope to check their microstructure and constitution. This could lead process technology researchers to misinterpret the problem and take a wrong approach. MSScorps' independently developed ALD technique is the only one in the industry to provide an armor-like coating, protecting samples from mishandling and enabling an insight into their true microstructure and constitution. This technique is widely used in MA and FA services, fully demonstrating the compelling MSScorps advantages.
Providing premium-quality analytics services and fostering a positive work environment
Being a "hidden champion" of the semiconductor sector, MSScorps not only is highly regarded for its technologies and services but also fosters a positive work environment with a people-oriented management paradigm, which is why MSScorps is able to maintain a low turnover rate. Material analysis is a knowledge-based business and professional talent is the fundamental element, notes Leou. MSScorps' vigorous team of professionals is the reason why MSScorps is able to stay on the leading edge. Furthermore, MSScorps also implements e-management and production line scheduling, which is highly praised by its foundry customers. Few MA service providers adopt a complete e-management system like what MSScorps has put to use. It has significantly enhanced operation efficiency for MSScorps. For scheduling, MSScorps follows the same high-standard procedures as leading foundries by giving test samples check codes according to manufacturers and engineers for customers to access the MA records of their products in real time.
MSScorps will replicate its corporate culture as well as software and hardware infrastructure to its Nanjing subsidiary. Leou emphasizes the year 2019 marks a major milestone for MSScorps as the company presses forward. With capital and talent in position, MSScorps is ready to recreate itself as a provider of premium-quality MA services and an enabler of a people-oriented corporate culture.
MSS COO Yung-Shun Liao, Chairman Gino Leou, CTO Dr. JC Chen (left to right)
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