Product engineering refers to the process of designing and developing a device, assembly, or system such that it be produced as an item for sale through some production manufacturing process. Product engineering usually entails activity dealing with issues of cost, producibility, quality, performance, reliability, serviceability and user features. These product characteristics are generally all sought in the attempt to make the resulting product attractive to its intended market and a successful contributor to the business of the organization that intends to offer the product to that market. It includes design, development and transitioning to manufacturing of the product. The term encompasses developing the concept of the product and the design and development of its mechanical, electronics and software components. For example a product like a digital camera would include defining the feature set, design of the optics, the mechanical and ergonomic design of the packaging, developing the electronics that control the various component and developing the software that allows the user to see the pictures, store it in memory, download to a computer, etc. After the initial design and development is done, transitioning the product to manufacture it in volumes is considered part of product engineering.
In the field of integrated circuits
Specifically in the field of electronics (i.e. integrated circuits), semiconductor companies have product engineers to support the production of complex high volume products like microprocessors, DRAM, digital signal processors or ASIC. Their role is emphasized since the new generations of technology (90 nm, 65 nm), together with the arrival of new circuit designs, that have increased side effects difficult to simulate and endanger the fast ramp-up of the volume manufacturing in the lab.
Area of responsibility
- Product engineers define the yield roadmap and drive the fulfillment during ramp-up and volume production,
- Identify and realize measures for yield improvement, test optimization and product costturability methods,
- Define qualification plan and perform electrical characterization analysis.
Product engineers are the technical interface between the component development team and the production side (Front End and Back End), especially after the development phase and qualifications when the high volume production is running.
Product engineers improve the product quality and secure the product reliability by balancing cost of test and test coverage that could impact the production fall-off. They support failure analysis request from customers. Product engineer have an ability of driving the new world.
Knowledge and skills
The job requires the product engineer to have a very good working knowledge of:
- Statistical methods and tools,
- Manufacturing process,
- Product reliability and qualification,
- Physical analysis methods
- Computer-aided design and simulation programs
- Specific technology
- Automatic test equipment and tools
- Strong analytic work methodology and problem solving skills
- Project management skills
- Wafer map
Each chip of a wafer, identified on a diagram by its x and y coordinates, is represented by a specific color or symbol depending on the results of a test. It can be helpful to detect a process problem if a region differentiates itself from the rest of the wafer with a visual signature (e.g. spot at the center, donut ring, strip, cluster...).
- Failure analysis
To investigate the root cause of FE (Front-End) / BE (Back-End) yield detractors, or analyse return from customers, it could be necessary to send the samples to a failure analysis laboratory. The process in the lab is to verify the failure with a tester, to localize the fault by Emission microscopy, liquid crystal thermography or E-Beam probing for examples. Then the physical failure analysis can be conducted by different methods like: FIB (Focused Ion Beam), SEM (Scanning electron microscope), AFM Atomic force microscope. Sometimes a circuit correction is even feasible by FIB.
-  Application note "Yield Learning Flow Provides Faster Production Ramp"
-  Tutorial about yield impact