Promoting the Electron Beam Lithography System, Contribute to the Development of Chinese Semiconductor Industry
In China market showing the remarkable economy growth, the demand for electron beam lithography system has been increasing year after year. The electron beam lithography system writes various designed patterns with the minimum line width down to 8 nm or less as desired. For its fine pattern delineation capability as desired, the electron beam lithography system is subject to export regulations. Mengyuan Guan, a sales representative, born in China, is busily on the move over China’s vast soil, being proud of herself for contributing to the development of the semiconductor industry in her mother country.
Higher demand for electron beam lithography system in China
It is commonly understood that LSIs are embedded in the electron devices such as on a mobile phone, PC, and digital camera. The electron beam lithography system is inevitable in making the fine circuit patterns of an LSI. Since the electron beam lithography system, which writes patterns with fine line width, is sensitive to floor vibration, magnetic field fluctuation, and temperature change, the system requires a well considered installation room.
In China, where the development of the semiconductor industry is being enhanced, the demand for the electron lithography system has been increasing year after year.
A sales representative in this vast continent of China is Mengyuan Guan. Born in Changchun City, Jilin Province, China, Guan has lived in Japan since she was 14 years old. It is not needed to say she is bilingual in Chinese and Japanese. The lithography systems that Guan is marketing now are JBX-9600FS and JBX-8100FS. Both systems are used for the purposes of research and development, and the customized device production.
“Our customers in China are mostly semiconductor manufacturers and the topnotch laboratories of universities and national research institutes. So far, I have delivered the systems to Tsinghua University in Beijing, Fudan University in Shanghai, Chinese Academy of Sciences laboratory, and so forth. Customers are the leading researchers who have the deepest knowledge and highest technologies already. Rather, we have a lot to learn from them. What is important for me is to be humble. Understanding the customers’ requirements correctly, we introduce options and custom made products suitable for their applications and propose them for their adoption.”
Coverage from a metropolis to a regional city
What bothers her in promoting sales is the export regulation. Since the lithography system is capable of writing the fine patterns as desired, there is a certain limitation in exporting the system to China. Sometimes, Guan even needs to visit the proper Japanese governmental authorities for consultation and negotiation.
“The other problem is a sudden change in the visiting schedule. In every business trip to China, I make appointments with the customers prior to fixing the schedule. But the appointments change quite often, I cannot feel safe with the trip schedule until the last minute.” says Guan.
She travels to China twice a month and stays there for 3 to 4 days per trip, sometimes it happens to be a week. She is in China almost half a month for business.
“After all, China is so vast that you end up spending time travelling unless you decide the target area of travel in advance, like being in the Shanghai area this time, and Beijing next. Nonetheless, our customers are not located in a metropolis only. Regional cities are also attracting high-tech companies. So, it is not unusual that I take a train to the station nearby by the customer and get in a taxi for an hour to reach the customer. There are many start-up companies in Guangdong and Jiangsu. They are located in a very remote place.” she laughs.
Same as in Japan, the universities and research institutes in China employ a bidding system. Even when we have gone through the time-consuming bidding process and are about to conclude the contract, it happens suddenly the business itself is gone.
“Moreover, China has their own business practices; payment is to be made in Chinese Yuan, instead of Dollars. Such unique practices made me confused at the beginning. In addition, the communication with Chinese customers is mainly conducted through the message system called WeChat. This communication is extremely frequent. I put the prime importance in communication with customers. However, customers send me messages regardless of weekends. That is a little bit annoying.”
Maintenance system that no one else has
Against the competitors, JEOL has a big advantage. JEOL has established its subsidiary that is dedicated for maintenance in Shanghai. More than 10 engineers are stationed including several Japanese for trouble shooting and periodical maintenance activities.
“This is a great advantage as our competitors do not have such the customer support structure. We have our own clean room there. We can store and manage the replacement parts and consumables, and we can even refurbish some parts locally. Consequently, smooth and prompt parts replacement has been enabled. Our quick response is something we can hardly lose against our competitors.” Guan continues that conveying know-how on fabricating products to her customers is another mission, besides selling the lithography system, as the Chinese semiconductor manufacturers are still on their way to development.
“Proposals or advices on how to utilize the system are much appreciated. In some cases, we send an engineer for weeks to solve the problem that the customer has.” says Guan.
As described previously, the lithography systems are subject to floor vibration, magnetic field fluctuation, and temperature fluctuation. We conduct the survey for the environmental factors of the customer’s installation room. Even if there is a subway running far from the customer site, Guan proposes the customer to install an anti-vibration system.
When the magnetic field fluctuation is identified, Guan prepares the magnetic field canceller. Concerning the air-conditioning, Guan provides the customer with a piece of advice for the temperature control. “I get nervous when I deliver the system which I sold. The system is sensitive to vibration. It will be a big issue if the system unit falls. I feel really relieved when the system is unpacked and installed without any problems.”
China, much attractive market ever before
As the required mental attitude of the sales representative, Guan cites conveying the customer’s request correctly to the members of technical development.
“However, sometimes I do not understand the customer’s request well, due to many technical terms being used. If I fail to thoroughly confirm the meanings with the customer, I am scolded by the technical development team later. So, it is important to gather as much information as possible and expand my knowledge.”
In China, the financial support to the educational institutes has been expanded. Its scale is far beyond the Japanese support. China will continue to become more of an attractive market.
“When universities make a budget, we are often asked for a quotation. In China, the technical capabilities are rapidly growing. However, sophisticated equipment like the lithography system is not something that can be produced as soon as the money is available. JEOL’s products will be demanded in China more than ever.”
As for the future dream, Guan continues,
“I would like to be well known by the universities and laboratories in China, so that people think of me, “Guan”, whenever the electron beam lithography system is concerned”.
If the lithography system will prevail in China, the day will come when the names of JEOL and Guan become the pronoun for it.