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KLA Location Spotlight: High-Tech Packaging Solutions in Medieval Leuven, Belgium

May 24, 2022 5 min read

Historic Leuven, a small city in central Belgium, is the next stop on our virtual tour of KLA’s global locations. The 9th century town, dotted with spectacular medieval and Renaissance architecture, has the country’s oldest university – and a major technology hub where, for 40 years, KLA’s ICOS division has been helping to transform our future.

Since it’s spin-out from the renowned KU Leuven University in 1982, the Leuven site has been the main location for the ICOS division, a market leader in developing component inspection, die sorting and other packaging solutions used by global chip makers to improve yields in the wafer-level packaging process and perform critical quality control on finished packages. Component inspection, for example, is a critical step during the final manufacturing stages of a semiconductor package before it is integrated on a printed circuit board in the final product assembly.

“As the role of packaging transitions from chip protection to performance enabler, we are working to meet the challenges posed by the wide range of package types and the integration of multiple chips into a single package. The importance of component inspection continues to rise because of an increase in both the technological complexity and value of the final packages.”  

Pieter Vandewalle, general manager, ICOS division, KLA Leuven

Packaging Innovations to Overcome Technology Challenges

Industry need for innovation is critical, because the latest consumer products like laptops, phones, wearable devices and emerging electric vehicles cannot be made without leading-edge semiconductor chips. Due to these evolving trends, the semiconductor packaging manufacturing stage is now taking a more central role in semiconductor innovation, leading to faster performance, unique functionality and increased power efficiency for the packaged chips.

What sets KLA Leuven apart is a highly skilled and diverse multidisciplinary team. The site’s 115 software, applications, mechanical, electrical, design and algorithm engineers based in Leuven work closely with colleagues in the global ICOS organization to develop, manufacture and support their industry-leading products for the global packaging sector.

To meet current and future needs, KLA Leuven’s high-performing teams balance technical expertise with creativity to solve customers’ most difficult problems.

“We have extensive experience working with customers to solve new packaging challenges and help them succeed in ramping up new products while also improving overall yield in a cost-effective manner,” Pieter explains. “Our high level of collaboration helps keep KLA and our customers ahead of the technology curve and helps shape the development of electronic devices coming to market many years from now.”

Scroll down to learn what some of KLA’s employees in Leuven have to say about working at the site.

At the Center of Innovation in a Dynamic Old City

The Leuven team also collaborates closely with nearby imec, a prominent international research and development organization active in the fields of nanoelectronics and digital technologies, to help develop the next generation of semiconductor technologies.

Although Leuven is an old city, it has a dynamic, modern focus with a diverse population. Set in a technology park, the KLA Leuven  workforce has grown considerably over the past several years to keep pace with customer demand for its packaging systems.

They work in a fast-paced environment that mirrors present-day Leuven and, in line with the company’s drive to be better and being indispensable to customers, the ICOS team plans to grow by 25% in Belgium this year.

“It excites me that KLA is a growing international company in an expanding market.” Maarten is working on the next generation of inspection and measurement equipment.

Maarten, product development engineer

“Working with so many talented and multicultural people is a joy.” Adds Yi, “I’m part of a small team with Belgian and Indian colleagues. We help each other solve customer problems every day. We share knowledge, ideas and solve problems in pragmatic ways. It’s a rewarding feeling when I can help customers and our field engineers through their hard work.” Yi works on a multicultural team to solve technical challenges.

Yi, software quality assurance engineer

Employee Life at KLA Leuven

KLA in Leuven works with the KLA Foundation to support nonprofit organizations aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals focused on quality education, specifically science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, good health and wellbeing, zero hunger, no poverty and gender equality. The company and employees donate time, funds and resources to employee-nominated local charity initiatives for schools and after-school centers, hospitals, sports teams, family centers and housing projects. Some of these nonprofits include:

  • Alba, which offers offender-victim mediation and provides young people the opportunity to take responsibility for the juvenile crime in which they were involved through community service and learning projects within the judicial districts of Leuven and Brussels.
  • Bednet makes real time distance learning available at home for preschool, primary and secondary school students at state certified schools in Brussels and Flanders who are absent from class due to illness, surgery or pregnancy.
  • Casa Magnolia was formed by a mother whose child died from a metabolic disease. All projects have one goal: To offer time, space and rest to families with a child with a life-threatening illness.
  • Mission of Daring Club Leuven Athletics (DCLA G-Athletics) offers young people and adults with disabilities opportunities to participate in a wide range of athletics.

“As an industry leader, the ICOS team takes their responsibility and involvement in the community very seriously by giving their time to support local projects and charities. Engaging with the local community helps our employees feel more fulfilled, healthy and happy.”

Else Cludts, human resources business partner, KLA Leuven

Employees at KLA’s Leuven facility (left) embrace multicultural traditions of the workforce, including Easter, Ramadan and Lunar New Year.

Here’s what employees in Leuven are saying about their work, collaboration and working on impactful projects every day:

“There is always something to learn at KLA – you only need to look around. The work content is intellectually stimulating in so many ways: You’re deeply engaged at the technical level, get many tasks organized and planned, and at the same time work with teams and customers of different cultures all across the globe. The environment is fast-paced and the standards are high – you’re rewarded with intriguing work and collaboration with bright minds.

Claudia, senior software engineer

“The KLA ICOS division is a high-tech leader inside the real world of semiconductors. With a background in physics and some experience in the chemistry sector, I joined KLA last year. I interact in my daily work with hardware designers, software developers, as well as local support teams and customers. Our positive environment motivates me every day.”

Xuan, application engineer

To start your career at KLA, a World’s Most Admired Company, browse our job openings in Belgium and our many global locations for the opportunities ahead for you.

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