HSEB is a German company that specializes in the development and production of systems for optical inspection of semiconductor wafers. The company was established in 1991 by specialists of the Dresden-based R&D centre of Carl Zeiss Jena. In the past 25 years the company has grown from a small engineering firm into a manufacturing company, which develops equipment for leading enterprises of the semiconductor industry in Europe, Asia, North America. A milestone in the company's history was in 2004, when HSEB taking over the business field "Optical Wafer Inspection" from Carl Zeiss SMS. Currently the company’s product range includes both fully automated solutions and manually operated devices for wafers up to 450 mm. Markus Keil, CEO at HSEB, told us about market trends and advanced developments of the company.
Mr. Keil, what are the trends in the semiconductor industry and how they affect the business of your company?
First, an interesting trend is the increasing demand for solutions for wafers with a size of 200 mm. If in the mass production of traditional semiconductor devices such sizes are already ineffective, then for niche segments of the market they are optimal. It gave a new chance to many enterprises which now can shift to the production of devices for special applications, for example, of MEMS of various types. We have a very strong position in this segment, which accounts for about half of our sales.
Secondly, it can be noted the dynamic development of foundries. For us it is also a favorable trend because such companies are interested in introduction of advanced, highly automated quality control systems. About 50% of our customers are the foundries.
Thirdly, the development of FD-SOI parallel with FinFET may be noted. We offer solutions for both types of processes.
Almost all our customers develop 3D technologies, but in this area the progress is slower than expected, although in Asia, for example, quite considerable success is achieved.
Overall, technology in the semiconductor industry become more and more expensive, requiring more sophisticated quality control systems. For us it is a challenge and new opportunities for growth. From 2012 to 2014, our revenue increased by 40%, and from 2014 to 2015 – roughly by 15%.
What developments would you highlight?
Our flagship is ODIN, fully automated optical inspection system, which is characterized by best-in-class combination of precision and speed. Another fully automatic optical inspection system is WOTAN that allows to control up to 150 wafers per hour with resolution of less than 20 microns. Both sides of the wafer can be scanned simultaneously. Both series include systems for wafers with size of 150, 200 and 300 mm. In addition to the automatic systems, we offer devices with manual control, and various modules.
Among the latest developments, the Baldur platform has no analogues. This system was created in collaboration with Soitec especially for FD-SOI technology.
What determines the success of your equipment?
First I would like to mention the minimum cost of operation. Additional advantages are technological capabilities, the quality and speed of operation and a reasonable magnitude of the investment. Many customers appreciate our willingness to create a special equipment configurations that are optimal for their tasks. We are actively working with customers both directly and through distributors, in particular, in Russia we are represented by TBS engineering.
The location of company in Dresden, which is one of the largest European centers of high technologies development, also plays a significant role in our success. We are a member of Silicon Saxony association, which brings together around 300 innovative companies, and many of them became our contractors and partners. In addition, in Dresden are located the largest companies of the semiconductor industry, which are our customers, including Globalfoundries, Infineon, Siltronic, ZMD. Another important factor is a large number of highly qualified specialists in Saxony.
I want to emphasize that we never stop in our development, and in cooperation with partners from Europe, East Asia and the USA constantly improving our solutions. ■