SUSS MicroTec in Russia
SUSS MicroTec celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. TBS, being an exclusive agent in Russia, timed the 50th anniversary delivery of the MJB4 installation to this date, bringing the number of installed exposure systems in Russia to 70.
Speaking about SUSS it is worth to begin from the long history of the company, that was founded by Karl Süss in Munich in 1949. It should be noted here that even during the soviet time the name of Karl Süss was closely connected with the standard of quality, with German, in the broad sense reliable, convenient and quite simple in control equipment. Some of our clients have machines by Karl Süss, bought in the 1980s, and they still function perfectly well maintaining the good quality of photolithography. Of course they are not the modern submicron technologies, but for the technologies with the starting point at 2 µm and higher these are well-worth machines. Moreover the company SUSS still provides their service support and they are in the working condition. During the soviet period the dream of every scientist was to get the SUSS equipment for photolithography and, what is flattering, this desire hasn’t disappeared anywhere. People come up to our exhibition stands, attend trade fairs and seminars, recognize this name and are glad to make certain that the modern equipment is nothing less in reliability and convenience of use and in many aspects, is certainly better and meet the contemporary requirements. SUSS equipment is a kind of "a dream machine" for any users, including young scientist of nowadays.
What place does SUSS occupy among the partners of TBS?
SUSS MicroTec, the official representative of which we have become since 2004, is one of our main partners. Sales in Russia obtain about 10% of all European sales of SUSS, thus it means that the Russian market is important for the supplier and the clients in Russia receive sufficient attention from the producer. Since the very moment we have started to sell SUSS equipment, we also began to service it. The installation base of SUSS machines can boast now of 180 units out of 500 units totally, supplied by our company, correspondingly the third of the sold by us equipment is the equipment produced by the company SUSS MicroTec.
What equipment of SUSS MicroTec do you consider to be in the greatest demand in the Russian market?
Certainly the basic demand is for the equipment for RTD (such machines as the mask aligner MJB4, MA6, spin coater and developer for photoresists LabSpin, RCD8, universal system for wafer bonding SB6), but we can’t deny the lately increased interest in the automatic equipment. By now we have delivered and are supporting the service of more than 15 large automatic cluster systems which work in the 24-hour mode.
We also witness the interest for the complex solutions (for example temporary bonding of wafers on a carrier with the further separation) which are fully catered for by the company SUSS.
Not the least importance of the great interest to the equipment of SUSS lies in the fact that the company treats the problems of sanctions quite flexibly. We had no cases of SUSS equipment delivery failure to clients due to the sanctional restrictions and such instances are not to be expected. The equipment undergoes the permission procedure in the BAFA (with the exception of equipment for nanoimprint lithography) which also positively contributes to the terms of shipment.
What problems does SUSS have to confront in the Russian market?
One of the main problems is the incapability of certain domestic customers to work with high-quality technological equipment. The expectations that the machine will work without the proper maintenance for years to come crash at the sight of a sudden problem which should have been dealt with long ago. So we as the partner of SUSS are forced to solve the problems which could have been avoided under the condition of the regular service in the emergency mode. There is no unbreakable equipment, the point is how quickly and effectively the support service reacts and eliminates the problems. It is quite clear to the local engineers, but the executives still even now don’t allocate enough finances for the efficient care for the machines. However it can’t but please that now many customers are already including these expenditures right away at the moment of purchase.
What are the advantages of MJB4 in comparison with its analogues?
First of all this machine allows to perform the submicron photolithography with the guaranteed accuracy beginning with 0.5–0.6 µm. Our clients have acquired successful experience of creating shutters for 0.3–0.35 µm, though it is, of course, more about the skills and experience of the operator, than the reoccurrence on the part of the equipment. At the same time if we see that such experiments succeed it means that MJB4 has a great safety margin for functioning, and also the machine is very resistant to different types of mechanical damage. Speaking of those 50 units, which we have installed and provide service for, some customers addressed us with problems but the problems were of such little significance that they were being solved within one to several days. It is a really reliable piece of equipment which performs submicron lithography and has practically no analogues according to these parameters both in our market and in the world market. Right now SUSS has released new models with digital microscopes, a virtual assistant for alignment, and the accuracy of alignment up till 0.25 µm, but MJB4 still enjoys its well-deserved demand.
How is the cooperation in the delivery of equipment realized between TBS and SUSS?
We in the company TBS have a flexible approach to the delivery of equipment; we never limit the opportunities of sales to ourselves. If the customer wants to buy directly from the company SUSS, of course the direct contract can be procured or it can be arranged through the integrator company. Many clients have integrators, the building companies including, which cover the tasks of shipment of the equipment themselves. We are responsible for the technical component; we always talk through all the technical parameters of installment with engineers of the customer to ensure the acquisition of the machine with the really required set of parameters to perform the necessary process so these technical negotiations are certainly conducted through us. The company SUSS always redirects us all the technical issues and trusts us with them. In such particular cases we never touch the financial side, it is the buyers’ decision if they buy directly and they negotiate the price themselves, but as soon as the equipment is on the territory of Russia, we as the official agent are obliged to get it started and provide the guarantee service. Thus the integrator has no difficulties; there is no need to worry about the installment, search for engineers, and support for the guarantee cases. You can be absolutely sure that you will always get service support during the warranty and afterwards. At the same time our company also delivers equipment itself, we participate in tenders and as an agent we can provide very flexible conditions for delivery, including the cases when the equipment is paid for after the installment and the check process have been completed.
What is your assessment of the perspectives for SUSS in the nearest future, what are the prognoses for the Russian market?
Nowadays the domestic market have endured certain changes, because of the sanctions too, but the company SUSS approaches this issue openly and I will repeat that we haven’t had any bans on import of the equipment till now and we don’t expect to have them in future. I consider the company SUSS MicroTec to be one of few in the domestic market with the adequate prices and really good quality and reliability of machines. That’s why I think the plans and prognoses are the brightest and we see that the market of the highly-technological submicron equipment belongs to the company SUSS and it only strengthens its positions in the Russian market. As to the coating and developing systems the same can be stated. We see the increase in demand both for the manual and semiautomatic systems as well as for the absolutely automatic cluster systems.
The market at present consists only of those companies which from the very beginning have been focused not on the reselling of products but on the quality of the rendered services and the range of the services, and the company TBS is not the exclusion. We are glad to help domestic producers in their choice and exploitation of the most modern equipment for microelectronics now and in the future.
Thank you very much for the interesting conversation!
A.V. Timoshin was interviewed by A.N.Alyoshin