Quite a number of things happened since I wrote my last entry, Apple has announced two new phones and Samsung has shown off their new android smartphones. In this entry i’m not going to talk about that but instead this is specifically for what happened today. Since I started reading tech new back in 2011 when the X79 chipset just came out, I’ve always wanted to visit a fabrication plant to look at how the processors are actually made. Today, that dream was somewhat fulfilled, I spent the entire day at Freescale Semiconductors.
Frankly speaking the morning session which included the general introduction to the company and a very short tour of the front end of the plant wasn’t that exhilarating. However during the introduction session I did get to know that Freescale was actually a spinoff company of Motorola and since then the company has become an independent counterpart and is now a major competitor in the embedded systems market. Also we were shown something quite meaningful and full of sorrow, that is the garden which was dedicated to the Freescale employees who were onboard flight MH 370 earlier this year. The mood was just saddening and there was a light drizzle while we were out there…
The session after lunch was the crucial one, over lunch I had the chance to talk with a couple of Freescale engineers and one of them was a fresh graduate. They all had their stories to tell but due to time constraints we had limited time to divulge into the deep details. So after that the 5 of us were split up and each of us followed a designated engineer so that we could observe their general work flow.
The engineer which I followed was Roslan and he has an E&E degree and has been working here for the past 12 years. The department I was ‘working’ under was called TBE or The BackEnd. which in English terms is the final production line which includes QC/QA and also packaging. I was there about 1:30 and due to the Friday prayers I was passed on to Roslan’s ‘boss’ and she didn’t have time to entertain me because she was working on an upcoming meeting, so I was given a manual about Six Sigma which is practiced by Freescale and I didn’t last long with the manual (there were too many words).
fifteen minutes later I was passed down again to on of the engineers of the department and he brought me on a tour in the production line which included the baking overs, quality checking and packaging. I was fitted into one of those electrostatic repelling suits to prevent electrostatic discharges (they take electrostatic seriously, there’s signs everywhere in the production area). It was a brief tour and the guy didn’t have much to say because he didn’t look that prepared for giving people tours. Soon after that i was back in the office and most of the people were back from their lunch break and the places was livelier than ever.
Soon after that Roslan was back and again i went back into the production line and this time around i was given a more in depth explanation of the entire process. This plant makes chips from the leaded form all the way to the modern LGA package. Compared to the tour i was given a while ago, the production line was now filled with workers and my first impression was that the production floor looks very messy and everywhere you look there’s a machine. But at the end of the tour i can take back my earlier words, the production floor is actually quite well planned out, everything follows the flow of production from baking towards final packaging.
The whole day was well spent and what i gained today was unlike anything i’ve ever experienced. Initially when i was told about this opportunity, i thought that i was going to see how they actually build the chips from scratch to the final product worthy of shipping. But instead, i only got to experience the final point of the entire process. At first i did have the feeling of unsatisfactory. From the moment i stepped into the office for the first time and till the moment i was saying my last goodbyes to the entire TBE team, my views has changed. While i was sitting in the office reading the six sigma manual, i took a far bit of time to observe the employees working, they were very ’emo’ looking staring at their computer screen and when i looked at them they gave me that unexplainable expression.
Similarly the mood was quiet and the only sounds came from the they clicking of keyboards and the rattling sounds of the maintenance guys. In the production line, i did not experience much of the life while doing the general tour, instead the best moment was during the very last trip down the production line where i was sitting on where Roslan usually works when he’s in the production area. From there i could watch the all the employees working, at that point i really felt like i was an employee there and from what i observed, everybody was doing an excellent job, there wasn’t a time where an employee was just standing there doing nothing.
After that, i was back in the office and had a few minutes before the time was up. During that time i was looking around the office and compared to before, the place was now full of people and several employees were having a meeting. Not to be rude but i was looking at them discussing about matters and from that i can see that the teamwork does exist within them, everyone was shooting out ideas/solutions and everyone had their fair share of words. What i gained from this experience was that although work can be boring at times (especially when you’re working on the same product every day) at least you have a fun time interacting with other coworkers and that just makes it worth it to come to work everyday