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Focus on the Fab: KLA’s Jim Lin Takes Serviceability Beyond Customer Satisfaction

Aug 17, 2023 4 min read

In today’s evolving semiconductor landscape, considering ease of serviceability during the product design phase and how we engage with customers is a KLA priority. Even routine maintenance takes time, and making subtle changes during the product development process can significantly improve the overall ownership experience for KLA’s customers. The KLA Services Product Support Organization – or PSO – is a critical part of this process.

“By prioritizing serviceability in our product design, KLA is better able to support customers with the ability to resolve tool issues swiftly, minimizing downtime and maximizing productivity. Our focus on serviceability not only showcases KLA’s commitment to customer satisfaction but also sets us apart from competitors.”

Rufo Villa, vice president, Product Support Organization, KLA

As part of the KLA Advance Focus on the Fab series, we’re spotlighting a Product Support Organization employee who is working to prioritize improved serviceability, greatly enhancing the way KLA supports valued customers.

Jim Lin, Product Support Manager, KLA Ann Arbor

After seven years working for KLA in Taiwan, Jim Lin relocated to Ann Arbor in 2019 and set out to make a serious impact on service for customers by pushing for process innovations that help reduce tool downtime – planned or unplanned.

Building on his previous experience in Taiwan as a customer service engineer, technical support engineer and technical support manager, Jim took on a new role as a product support manager in 2020 and almost immediately began working to enhance the way KLA responds to customer equipment issues, especially those involving servers.

“Rufo and I recognized that failure of a server can impact all tools connected it and that our team has to get servers running again as soon as possible, so we began to rethink our approach in two critical areas – product design and how we allocate our people,” Jim says.

Making an Impact on Customers with Data Hub Initiative

Through their data hub initiative, Jim and Rufo worked to modify KLA’s response to server issues by enhancing the PSO’s team with dedicated server CSEs who have specific knowledge of servers and making changes in server design.

Unlike traditional CSEs who have the mechanical and electrical engineering backgrounds needed to service KLA products at customer locations, the new server CSEs are experienced in computer science and database management.

“Customers are maintaining their relationships with their CSEs as their main points of contact,” Jim says. “But when we go into troubleshooting mode on customer servers, veteran CSEs will partner with our new server CSEs to resolve issues.”

Servers are different from KLA’s tools, but they’re just as critical, Jim explains. While incredibly complex, KLA’s tools, which often have a lifespan of 20 years or longer, are quickly and effectively serviced by the company’s CSEs. But like laptop computers, technologies for servers can change every four or five years.

And that’s why Jim believes influencing design is a major part of the PSO’s mission.

“We don’t ever want to be in a situation where our team has to say, ‘Sorry, your server is obsolete and we don’t have any parts for you,’ so we’re developing roadmaps for upgrading or retrofitting this equipment as it ages – much like our teams do for the tools across the KLA portfolio.”

Jim Lin

Spirit of Innovation Impacts KLA Instruments Customers

Staying one step ahead of evolving customer needs is built into Jim’s work persona. He’s also head of product support for KLA Instruments, which offers not only fab equipment but also less complicated lab products.

The team, for example, has been using a unique model by working with channel partners – or distributors – to help resolve equipment issues in multiple regions.  By developing and testing new service capabilities to better support customers, according to Jim, KLA Instruments is demonstrating how innovation and creativity can help contain their costs.

“Users of KLA Instruments lab equipment aren’t necessarily looking for someone from KLA to visit their site when they have issues with less complex equipment,” Jim says. “Although CSEs will still directly service KLA’s larger and more complex fab tools, we’re evaluating how this new model will work. It’s one of the ways we are thinking differently about the methods we use to deliver a great ownership experience.”

A Relentless Pursuit of Excellent Product Support

Whether moving from Taiwan to the United States or taking on new challenges that impact the customer experience, Jim believes it’s important that the service team adapts to new environments and continues delivering exceptional product support, even in unfamiliar territory.

“We must strive to consistently make an impact by cultivating deep relationships with companies that own and operate KLA products, earning their satisfaction and unwavering trust,” he says.

Rufo adds, “Always striving to be better, Jim and his team are elevating the PSO to new heights, establishing it as a beacon of customer-centricity. Jim’s contributions continue to position KLA as a leader in delivering exceptional product support.”

Jim’s interest in connecting people with solutions carries into his life away from KLA.

“I do a sports-themed podcast that grew out of my sneaker obsession,” he says. “Telling stories in this way helps people connect – it’s really an extension of what I do at KLA, and it helps me keep my energy up.”

Learn more about KLA’s service organization here and read features about our CSEs at this link.

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