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Solar cells to iPhone chips: IQE's 'world class quality' software project

Welsh semiconductor wafer manufacturer IQE supplies products for a range of markets, from photonics and infrared to photovoltaic solar panel cells and Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VCSELs) used for Face ID on Apple's newest range of iPhones.

In 2018 IQE sourced and adopted Qualsys's electronic quality management software.

Why is securing world class quality with software investment so crucial to IQE?

We asked Head of Continuous Improvement & Quality Allan Moore, Global Business Analyst Bradley Dixon and VP of Business Systems & Quality Processes Tony Pearce.

 

 

 

Qualsys: Why has IQE made a business decision to implement an electronic quality software system?

Allan: I think quality is key to the whole business.

Our customer base is growing and their demands are becoming greater.

As we enter more rigorous markets, one being automotive, there's a need for a greater focus on everything we do related to quality.

 

Bradley: The thing about quality is you need to share your experiences.

You need to share best practice, you need to learn from your mistakes, you need to drive improvement.

That all comes from an EQMS system in my mind, that can work with the business and take the business from where it is today towards our 5- and 10-year goal.

 

Tony: Our product quality is one of the most important aspects of our business.

We need to be recognised as a world leader in quality processes. We have locations and manufacturing sites close to our key customers around the world - in the UK, in the US, and in Asia.

Examples of best practice exist in all those locations and we have the best people producing our products everywhere.

But the way that IQE has grown has been with some isolation between those sites. That means as we grow into 'one IQE', we need to have one method and one process of doing things. 

And it has to be the best everywhere.

 IQE chip

IQE manufactures semiconductor

wafers for use in smartphones

 

Qualsys: How will using quality management software help you achieve that goal?

Allan: I think day-to-day, our new EQMS system will make life much easier for the majority of people within IQE.

It will give instant reporting, you can set up reports that are sent to you every day, it will give you a far easier route into our document management system, into our customer complaints and change management system.

And the amount of administration to do all that is minimal.

 

The thing about quality is you need to share your experiences.

You need to share best practice, you need to learn from your mistakes, you need to drive improvement.

That all comes from an EQMS system in my mind.

                                              - Bradley Dixon, Global Business Analyst

 

Bradley: It's one go-to place. Everyone understands the software, everyone goes to the same place to access key information.

I think that drives change. It helps you share best practice.

Ultimately, that one go-to portal brings the business together.

 

Tony: Wherever you are in the world, in Taiwan, in the US, in the UK, we go to the same place, we see the same IQE process.

And albeit with some customisation for different processes, we generally do things the same way using the same tools.

 IQE technician

IQE's multiple sites had varying quality procedures and best

practices which needed to be tied together with a single system 

 

Qualsys: How will an electronic document management system help IQE?

Allan: Document Manager will help give us a clearer focus on the number of similar documents we have throughout the group.

At the moment, we're quite site-centric and we need to move forward to a more group-orientated view of the business - Document Manager will help us do that. 

 

Wherever you are in the world, in Taiwan, in the US, in the UK, we go to the same place, we see the same IQE process.

And albeit with some customisation for different processes, we generally do things the same way using the same tools.

           - Tony Pearce, VP of Business Systems & Quality Processes

 

Bradley: I think the ability of Document Manager to bend and twist the hierarchy and structure doesn't dictate to us how we should work - it enhances how we work, how we can improve and how we can move to where we want to be.

We're using the same system across all sites and that means those cultural differences become less of an issue because everyone is engaging with processes in the same way.

And the ease of use, the ability to structure document set-up is going to pay dividends for IQE in the future.

 

Qualsys: How will Audit Manager strengthen your auditing processes?

Allan: Audit Manager - I can't wait for this one to be installed.

This will give us instant standardisation of our auditing against many standards, one of them being ISO 9001.

It gives us standardised checklists, standardised schedules, and it will give us standardisation of our audit process across all sites.

 

Our new EQMS system will make life much easier for the majority of people within IQE.

It will give instant reporting, it will give you a far easier route into our document management system, into our customer complaints and change management system.

And the amount of administration to do all that is minimal.

               - Allan Moore, Head of Continuous Improvement & Quality

 

Tony: We'll integrate it into the IQE business so it's intuitive and obvious where to go and where to look, so that people aren't spending their day searching for the information they need.

 IQE Cardiff staff

IQE staff will use EQMS to manage their training,

documents and processes from a single location

 

Qualsys: Why have you replaced your old training processes with Training Manager?

Allan: I think Training Manager will be a key module for us.

It'll link all our training matrices into one place. It'll give us a focus on who we need to train and why, the frequency of training, and it'll link to Issue Manager so if there is a change to a document or a need to review a document, it'll automatically give us the ability to link that to training.

 

 

Qualsys: What about Issue Manager? How do you plan to apply that?

Allan: Issue Manager will be a key module for managing change throughout the group.

It gives us instant notification of changes automatically, whereas today we're purely based on a manual system for notification.

Complaint management will become standardised, it will give us greater focus and greater reporting capability for our key customers.

 IQE

IQE opened a compound semiconductor cluster in 2017 in

partnership with Cardiff University and the Welsh government

 

Qualsys: What does success look like for your project with us? What does world class quality mean?

Allan: Success for me is a seamless transition from our current system to our new QMS.

It would be a group-wide view at the click of a few buttons, engagement with the workforce, and our workforce engaging with the QMS in a more proactive way than they are today.

 

Qualsys: What are you telling your employees to do now? How do you prepare a workforce for a change like this?

Allan: I'd like all employees to engage with EQMS.

Going through any change is difficult, and this is a change from one system to another, but we're asking each employees to engage, and if they have questions, just ask.

 

Tony: As we embed EQMS into the organisation as a whole, we're looking for everyone to continue this process of continuous improvement, help us share best practice, and continue to support the process of one IQE around the world.

IQE logo

Next steps

Learn how quality software enhances modern manufacturing by downloading our manufacturing QMS brochure:

 manufacturing quality management software system

 

 

Tags: Case Studies, Multi-site enterprises, Customer Success, Manufacturing