Semiconductor Production Equipment PLM Center 3
I wanted to be involved in a development
field that makes use of my university major
study in chemistry.
When I joined the company, I was assigned to the Environmental Management Department, handling something like clerical work. Afterwards, I was strongly motivated to take on the challenges of R&D using my knowledge of chemistry, which I studied in graduate school, and I expressed my desire to move to another department. Currently, I’m involved in developing dispensers that apply resist in nanoimprint lithography (NIL). This completely new state-of-the-art NIL technology forms circuit patterns using a method entirely different from conventional lithography equipment. Since NIL inscribes finer lines than ever before, it can write greater amounts of information. It’s gratifying to deliver semiconductors that can make the information society even more capable and comfortable.
Our department is the only one handling chemistry in the business division.
I belong to the only group of chemistry specialists in the development of NIL equipment, and the only such group even in the whole Semiconductor Production Equipment Department. For example, knowledge of chemistry is always required when changing material becomes an issue, and then it’s our turn to get involved. Since we communicate with people in mechanical and electrical fields, it’s both important and inspiring to expand the range of work by steadily renewing our knowledge and making the most of our experience and expertise. We are collaborating in product development with Canon Nanotechnologies, Inc. in the USA, and I am very happy as research progresses after overcoming obstacles of language and technical background.
The company encourages us to take on new challenges.
Now, I am mainly in charge of resist dispenser components, but I’m also learning about preceding and succeeding processes. The Canon environment encourages us to take on the challenges of acquiring new fields of knowledge and endeavor. Since I can concentrate on R&D in daily life, I’m so “into” development that everything I see starts to look like circuits. I want to gradually expand what I can do and propose new ideas from a wider range of perspectives.
Semiconductor Production Equipment PLM Center 1
Here in our workplace, we take challenges to create innovations.
We’re examining the optical design of projection lenses installed in semiconductor lithography equipment and testing exposure performance. Canon recently developed its first lithography equipment for rectangular substrates. This new device is expected to manufacture state-of-the-art packages used in semiconductor devices, but it requires new technology different from that employed in conventional circular substrates. I am in charge of patterning performance evaluations. I did trial-and-error testing for several months. When I heard that there were experts who had valuable knowledge in other departments, I crossed sectional boundaries and requested instruction. It was tough, but I was able to get involved in developing the world’s first exposure tool that realizes 1 μm patterns on rectangular substrates. I went through the stress of this creative experience, but it was a truly exciting challenge for me, since I love experiments.
Chances for learning are all around us.
There are many opportunities to communicate directly with clients, and discuss leading-edge technologies. For example, a client requested intentionally blurred patterns, rather than commonly preferred sharp patterns. From this experience, I found a unique usage case that I had never imagined. I’ve also discovered that when I run into a problem and need some advice, there are always introductions to experts in the company: “If that’s your question, go to this person and ask him/her.” This is Canon’s strength based on long history. Now, as technology enthusiasts gather here at Canon, technical chats start up, conversations heat up during work breaks, and we get great chances to listen up and learn from short exchanges.
I’m dreaming of being part of astronomy business.
I love astronomy so much that I even chose a university because it has an observatory in Chile. And I was so enthusiastic about this starry setting that I kept shooting astronomical images. When I joined the company, I heard that the astronomy section would not hire new employees, so I decided to apply for the camera sensor division. However, I was assigned to the Semiconductor Production Equipment Department. When I saw the company’s order for my assignment, I was initially shocked. Astrophotography taken by Mr. Urushihara as a hobby. The Milky Way observed from a radio astronomy observatory (elevation 4,800m) in Chile. But then I realized that the astronomy section is actually in the Optical Equipment Office - right where I am now. Since we produce and process optical elements using similar production equipment and technology, Astrophotography taken by Mr. Urushihara as a hobby. The Milky Way observed from a radio astronomy observatory (elevation 4,800m) in Chile. I can continue honing my skills for the sake of my dream. As long as I dedicate myself to optical design, I may eventually get the chance to explore astronomical engineering.
FPD Production Equipment
PLM Center 4
We’re making equipment the size of a house.
I think few people immediately understand what “FPD (flat panel display) lithography equipment” is. I myself didn’t know before joining the company, even though I majored in mechanical engineering at university. In fact, such machinery is used to produce displays for familiar items including smartphones and televisions. This equipment is about as big as a detached house and is around 6 meters tall. Although the machinery is huge, we must drive it several meters and position its exposure stage with nm precision. That’s like making a hole-in-one golf shot from about 430km (270 miles) away, which is equivalent to the distance from Tokyo to Kobe. While I’m designing this machinery, I feel excited yet anxious, wondering if it’s really okay. But when the ordered equipment is delivered to the customer without any problem, I have a strong sense of accomplishment.
I’ve never felt any difference in the company’s treatment of men and women.
I’ve been in charge of design since I joined the company. Now I’m able to act on my own initiative to an extent. And since all company members are encouraged to work proactively and independently, coworkers give you great support, sharing successes and even mistakes. I feel I can work with real peace of mind. There are only a few women workers, but I’ve never felt any difference in the company’s treatment of men and women. Some men take childcare leave, and women don’t find it difficult to work here, just because of gender.
I’m thrilled to get the real feeling that I’m making things.
For people who want to make things, FPD lithography equipment is a very interesting field, I believe. Design requires not only desk work, but also physical work, such as going inside the equipment and touching it to check whether it works correctly and find solutions. Moreover, I need to be attentive to numerous factors affecting the exposure lighting source unit, since I’m in charge of this design. For example, in an environment where thermal expansion and UV deterioration are likely to occur due to light exposure, we must select material that doesn’t deteriorate easily, provide cooling, and control temperature - all to design holding and drive mechanisms for optical components. I think this is fun for people who like production. I’m thrilled to get the real feeling that I’m making things.
Semiconductor Production Equipment PLM Center 2
My work carries big responsibilities.
We’re in charge of solution software development for products and manufacturing sites. To shorten the time from equipment assembly to the start of customer use, previous manual examination and correction tasks are now automated by software for improved efficiency. In some cases, we had to produce automatic adjustment software at high speed to match new features and completed this in time for the production stage. Ultimately, we were able to reduce five to six hours of work to less than one hour. That was great. There’s no end to problems that need solutions - from issues at manufacturing sites to unexpected work procedures that require improvement. We’re always fighting against time. Our responsibility is heavy because our software must activate nanometer-precision measurement instruments and drive moving components in the unit at about 1/1000th of a second - all to determine whether semiconductors can be properly produced. It's a tough task but worth the effort.
Making things is a real dream goal.
IC chip, memory, sensor, etc. Don’t you agree that our lives would virtually impossible without semiconductors? I find it fascinating to be involved in supporting this social infrastructure. I want Canon to expand market share and raise recognition in the industrial equipment field. For a long time, I dreamed of contributing to humanity through science and technology. So I was very pleased that Canon assigned me to the work I wanted. However, I didn’t expect that my workplace would be in Utsunomiya. Since this happened, I’m thinking of aiming for global innovation from Utsunomiya. [Laughs.] As long as we take challenges in making things, our ideas and dreams as engineers can achieve real shapes. Don’t you think this is a real dream goal?
What’s important is building closer connections between people.
Our work requires direct communication with customers from all over the world. I can never complete the work all by myself. It’s essential - and fascinating - to solve problems too big for one person through group cooperation. Internal teamwork in our workplace is also essential. Recently, I took the initiative to hold an online welcome party for new coworkers. I want to continue building closer connections between people.
Optical Products Plant
I chose Canon because the company provides opportunities to work overseas.
I’m in charge of reassembling lithography equipment manufactured at the factory after disassembling the machinery once and then transporting it to the customer site. We deliver our products to a wide range of countries and places - Europe, the USA, and Asia, as well as Japan - and have experience in overseas stays lasting about a month. I chose Canon because I wanted to join a company that offers opportunities to work overseas using English, so Canon was perfect for me. From time to time, I wonder why I'm sweating so much. [Laughs.] Components and tools can be heavy, and I encounter unexpected manual labor, too.
Informal communication is essential to a relationship of trust.
My job is giving final shape to products that reflect the collective efforts of people in sales, business management, development, and manufacturing, as well as our customers. These represent the dreams of all people involved. I’m in charge of “delivering the dream” as finished lithography equipment. I try to actively communicate with people from various places and build a relationship of trust. It’s more than business conversation - everyday greetings and informal chats can be essential as well. Even when meeting foreigners, without hesitation, I try to behave with dignity. For overseas deliveries during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, when we can’t go to installation venues, we adjust our work hours to match local work hours so we can provide on-time support to these sites.
I thank my family and... darts.
Lithography equipment is extremely precise, and we need to be very careful to prevent impact damage during shipping and control temperature. It's nerve-racking work in all sorts of unfamiliar places, so it’s important to recharge my batteries. Darts helps me in many tiring situations. In fact, I used to have a professional darts qualification. Even overseas, wherever I am, I go to a darts bar like a challenger from a foreign dojo (training school), play darts with strangers and make new friends among local people, and go out to dinner with them. Thanks to darts! Above all, I thank my family for supporting my business trips. When I’m back in Utsunomiya, I prepare dinner as often as I can and serve my family. I hope they like it. [Laughs.]
Semiconductor Production Equipment Group
I can even feel proud of Canon lithography equipment.
I like traveling so much that I spent a month traveling abroad during a summer vacation when I was a university student. As I visited various countries, I felt tempted to describe Japanese product-making skills, so I chose Canon as my place of employment. When I heard my assignment, I was astonished. “What? Semiconductors!?” [Laughs.] Now, I’m studying desperately from a state of zero knowledge. At our workplace, almost everyone except me has a science background. When I ask a question, I feel encouraged because everyone teaches me politely and provides details. Nowadays, I’m proud that lithography equipment is indispensable to manufacturing semiconductors, which support the IoT society and play an important role in people’s lives.
Although I’m a newcomer, I’m a leader.
My main work is marketing. Currently, I’m only researching competitors and market trends to augment my own knowledge. My team has regular meetings with overseas group companies in each region. Since our workplace has a culture of “learning while working”, I happened to be appointed a discussion leader of European and Singaporean markets during my second year here. It’s not easy to set up discussion topics and collect data for each session, but I can pursue my task with follow-up support from coworkers. Eventually, I’d like to be involved in business strategy planning - the essence of marketing. So I want to take on more challenges, gain experience, and develop an ability to foresee the future.
I’ve started to watch a lot more news.
Although I have some overtime work, I feel that lately I manage to satisfy both my business and private interests by switching my brain. Maybe this is a kind of occupational disease. Recently, I’ve been watching a lot more TV news at home - current events including US presidential election that could have an impact on markets, etc. World affairs are no longer matters for other people. I think marketing is suited to those with a strong desire for knowledge. Marketing people not only absorb news about politics and the economy but also follow subjects that aren’t part of their interests. Since our work involves many departments, it’s better if you like communication. Even if you don’t have a profound knowledge of semiconductors, you can eventually manage it. [Laughs.]
Equipment Taiwan, Inc.
There’s no essential difference between business in Japan and Taiwan.
We’re in charge of selling lithography equipment - which is indispensable in manufacturing semiconductor devices - for customers in Taiwan. I wanted to work abroad since I was a student, and my wish was fulfilled early. Although we’re busy working in a rapidly changing market environment, our workplace is usually filled with my colleagues’ cheerfulness and laughter. When I face a challenge at work, their smiles and positive attitudes really encourage me. Actually, our workplace is so lively that it’s sometimes rather noisy. [Laughs.] Although there are language barriers in communicating with customers, we always keep CIP (Communication, Imagination, Preparation) in mind. Business results rely on what we imagine, how we prepare for performance, and how well we work with customers. I think there’s no essential difference between business in Japan and Taiwan.
I realize the impact of my work on the world.
The lithography equipment we handle is extremely precise. It’s the result of combining various technologies, which we are still studying every day. As we gain more knowledge and experience, we’re able to realize how indispensable semiconductor lithography equipment is and see how our work will affect the world. This is because lithography equipment contributes to smartphones, personal computers, automobiles - and virtually every aspect of our daily lives. I find it rewarding to work on cutting-edge technologies with customers, and I think there’s real exhilaration and excitement in this enterprise.
I want to communicate with people from various places and cultures because I only live once.
On holidays, I consciously try to put myself in unusual situations to be away from ordinary life, so I often go to Taiwan’s night markets and also go camping with my family, colleagues, and workers from other companies. Since I was a student, I wanted to communicate with people from various cultures and with different senses of values. I feel very happy to be at the forefront of the semiconductor market and able to work with people around the world while feeling the energy of the marketplace. Semiconductor lithography equipment is directly connected to the realization of new technologies for tomorrow. So, it’s a great experience to feel that my work can shape the future. No matter which country I visit in time ahead , my goal is to become a business person who can achieve results together with others while understanding differences in diverse nationalities, cultures, and values.