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Teradyne Corporation: The Jaguar Project Essay

2579 words - 11 pages

Teradyne Corporation: The Jaguar Project

As Jack O’Brien, project lead of Teradyne’s Jaguar project, sat in traffic on his way to work he pondered his team’s efforts over the past eight years. Teradyne, a manufacturer of semiconductor test machines, had long been awaiting the arrival of their new full-range testing equipment. The project marked a number of firsts for Teradyne including up-front project planning, formalized tools for project tracking, and a structured development process. Despite the learning curve all new methodologies impose, O’Brien’s project had become a success in the hardware department, yet the software group struggled through much of the implementation, and was ...view middle of the document...

Teradyne had also dispersed across the globe with smaller engineering operations set up in Japan, China, and Germany.

The Semiconductor Industry
Semiconductors span a very broad range of devices which can typically be classified by 2 broad categories: memory, and system on chip. Each type of device performs a specific job. For example, a graphics card possesses a processor, as does the motherboard inside a single computer. A computer may have any of 10 different types and sizes of memory for its various components such as CPU, Cache, RAM, persistent storage, etc. Consequently, each type of device has its own set of complex manipulations that it performs on the electrical signals that come as inputs. As semiconductors grew over the years to become smaller and more powerful, minor flaws in the production process could prevent an entire device from functioning correctly. This resulted in a high demand for testing equipment that could determine if a component was functional or not. This simple idea is quite a complex device, as devices often have a very wide range of operations. This is where Teradyne comes in. Teradyne’s product performs the testing of components to ensure that their behavior lies within the specifications outlined by their manufactures, essentially telling them if a component is good or bad before it leaves the factory.

By 2004 Teradyne had become the world’s leader in semiconductor testing equipment with over 6000 employees worldwide. Their biggest competition came from Aligent, Advantest, and Credence, who held considerably smaller shares of the market. Customers tended to be manufacturers like Intel, IBM, Hitachi, and Samsung who were actively creating new products and were willing to spend nearly 3 million dollars on a machine. Over the years, the production process of Teradyne’s customers had dramatically changed. Since production volumes were going up, and prices coming down, it was imperative that the testing process not slow down production operations. Reliability was of great concern as testing was often considered a bottleneck in the production process and any downtime would be extremely costly. Therefore, customer service was a major selling point as well.

As technology progressed, so did the need for more testing equipment, as each new device often required purchasing a new specifically built piece of testing equipment. Therefore it was very common for customers to rely on Teradyne’s past experience with their products in developing new equipment. Furthermore, it was very common that once a company was chosen to develop testing equipment for a particular device, no other company would compete in that area. The rapid development of new semiconductors required equally rapidly development of testing machines, which proved to be a difficult task. It was becoming more important that testing companies come up with equipment that was no longer limited to testing a single device, but rather could be configured to...

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