VLSI releases top picks in industry survey

VLSI Research’s recently released 2001 Customer Satisfaction Survey saw some jockeying for top spots, with a combination of first-place stalwarts and blue-ribbon rookies taking high honors. Agilent Technologies, Karl Suss, Ultratech Stepper, Universal Instruments and Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associate snagged top equipment supplier honors in their respective categories.

The San Jose, CA-based research firm divided its “2001 10 Best Chip Making Equipment Supplier” survey into five categories:

* Wafer processing equipment with sales above $300 million

* Wafer processing equipment with sales below $300 million

* Test and material handling equipment

* Process diagnostic equipment

* Assembly and specialty equipment

Survey respondents rated companies in each category on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest. VLSI sent out more than 49,000 questionnaires to semiconductor companies around the world; more than 5,300 evaluations were returned, equaling more than 68,900 individual ratings of companies.

Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates was awarded the blue ribbon in the “Large Suppliers of Wafer Processing Equipment” category with sales greater than $300 million. Novellus Systems and ASM International rounded out the top three. Varian has taken top honors for the past four years running.

Novellus achieved the highest overall average increase, VLSI said, with a rating of 7.68 this year, compared to the 7.39 it received for 2000.

ASM International and Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc. moved from the small supplier category to the larger one, exceeding the $300 million minimum for total chip revenues for 2001.

In the small supplier category Ultratech Stepper took the top spot, nudging out FSI International.

Both Ultratech and Karl Suss, which placed ninth, have placed in the 10 BEST for eight years, VLSI said. Verteq joined the group for the first time and obtained the highest equipment performance rating with 7.86.

Karl Suss knocked Integrated Measurement Systems from the top spot this year in the “Suppliers of Test and Material Handling Equipment” category, reclaiming the honor, which it held in both 1998 and 1999, but lost to IMS last year. ACCRETECH-Tokyo Seimitsu rounded out the top three.

First place in the “Suppliers of Process Diagnostic Equipment” was awarded to Agilent Technologies, which also won in 2000. Schlumberger Semiconductor Solutions and Hitachi Ltd. topped out the top trio. This year marked Applied Materials and Philips Analytical B.V.’s first year in the category, the report noted. Therma-Wave had the highest rating increase in this segment, rising from 6.54 in 2000 to 7.41 this year.

In the “Suppliers of Assembly and Specialty Equipment” category Universal Instruments was the winner this year, followed by ICOS Vision Systems Corp. N.V. and Orthodyne Electronics. Universal Instruments deserves mentioning, the research firm said, because the company did not even place in the 10 BEST last year.

Integrated Measurement Systems Inc. rated highest in five of the six customer service categories, averaging an overall customer service rating of 8.32. Karl Suss also rated in the top five of the seven equipment performance ratings, receiving an overall equipment performance rating of 8.15.

VLSI also granted its “Most Notably Improved Supplier” to Kaijo Corporation for showing the greatest improvement in customer satisfaction ratings over the past year. Kaijo’s 6.92 rating was 0.12 points higher than the company’s rating last year. In addition, Yokogawa Electric Corp. and Multitest Elektronische Systems GmbH debuted in the 10 BEST survey this year.

–Christina Bruns, WaferNews Associate Editor


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