Lessons to exchange

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I would love to romanticize my recent journey to Singapore to attend CleanRooms Asia 2000 by putting forth a great tale of enlightenment or a list of searing, yet simple truths gained about the market and the future of contamination control.

But it's not that simple.

I have always believed that travel is arguably the greatest facilitator of perspective, for it allows us to “experience,” to step beyond the printed words of news reports and market analysis and shows us, in the plainest, simplest detail, how things actually are.

From CleanRooms Asia 2000, I can offer you this: The Asian work force is hungry for basic cleanroom knowledge.

There was an overall sense that the conference attendees, comprised mostly of Singaporeans and Malaysians, were absolutely thirsting for the principles of electrostatic discharge (ESD) as well as how to establish a proper ESD control program. We were able to give them a full day and a half, but I got the impression that another day would have been just as well attended.

Q&A periods had sessions running overtime, while conversations with course presenters Stephen Halperin, Ron Gibson and John Kinnear, all representatives of the Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Association, ran long past any official conference times—all good problems for a conference sponsor to have.

According to conference attendees I had the pleasure of meeting, this, along with the fundamentals of ESD and its effects, is information that their employers are simply not equipped to disseminate. Along with tightening margins and decreasing training budgets, employers in the disk drive and semiconductor markets are supplying this information more as a luxury than as mission-critical information that could greatly increase the bottom line.

Fresh from visits to Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing's Fab 2 and the headquarters of disk drive manufacturer Maxtor, I can offer you this: The Asian workforce listens.

While touring these facilities one gets the feeling that progress is constantly being made. There is an overriding peacefulness to the processes, a sense that everyone has his or her position down to a science. It's nose-to-the-grindstone, with very little time wasted during shift changes or modifications to production practices.

According to Mok Kai Fore, manager of customer engineering at Chartered, the average worker trains quickly and, for the most part, follows the rules to the letter. “Among other things, workers understand what every step of production means to the overall goal of the plant,” he says.

While we've always understood that the Asian market looks to the West for new technologies and production developments, maybe we should look to the East for a brush-up on our bare-bones basics. Let's open our ears and listen.

Michael Levans
Chief Editor


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