The electronics industry (computers, phones, tablets, etc.) requires ever-greater processing power and miniaturization – which in turn requires very specialized pieces of equipment to do everything from the growing of silicon wafers, to deposition, patterning, doping, cleaning, dicing, and packaging. The extremely high dollar-values of hardware in process also requires constant quality control, frequent system calibration, and tracking. The industry is huge and diverse, but does share some common requirements:
- Quality and Reliability. You really don’t want to have a $50 sensor fail and take a $5,000,000 piece of equipment out of production.
- Long life-cycle. Commonly these machines are “Copy Exact” builds and would require re-certification/re-calibration (an expensive and time-consuming process) if a replacement item must be crossed-over for something different. Machine OEMs must select hardware with guaranteed availability for years (or even decades) to be able to support their customers.
- Cleanroom Operation. These are highly controlled production areas, so some technologies (conveyors that create dust, or motors that require frequent lubrication, for example) cannot be employed.