DBL Philosophy in the Field – Introducing the Outstanding Practice of SV Creation

By February 12, 2020 March 18th, 2020 No Comments

Since last year, SK hynix has been endeavoring to implement its “Double Bottom Line” (DBL) business management system, which pursues both economic value (EV) and social value (SV) at once, creating SV of about USD 8 billion in 2018. This year, the company is doubling down on its efforts, with everyone at SK hynix fully committed to the DBL system. Specifically, DBL Implementation Group, which was established in 2018, is fostering an inspiring atmosphere in the company which encourages employees to devote to SV creation voluntarily. In fact, DBL Implementation Group had discovered 1,247 SV creating practices by September 2019.

To recognize the efforts of DBL Implementation Group, SK hynix held its “Outstanding SV Creation Practices Sharing Festival”. Among 1,247 SV creating practices, each department presented its own outstanding practices during the festival. SK hynix Newsroom met with Technical Leader (TL) Young Sun Cho, who led the impressive case of “Elimination of Harmful Pollutants and Achievement of Mutual Growth via PKG Mold Equipment Improvement (or ‘the Case’)”, to learn more about how Cho was able to create SV, and what kinds of innovations Cho has brought about with this practice.

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Adopting “Zero-pollution Mold Cleaning Technology” in PKG Mold Equipment to Improve Field Employees’ Working Conditions

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As one of the part leaders of P&M Process & Equipment Technology Team at SK hynix, Cho is in charge of reforming and improving general equipment in the field to make them perfectly compatible with SK hynix’s processes; he is also in charge of developing new equipment when called upon. Since last year, his responsibilities extended to exploring potential SV creating cases as a member of DBL Implementation Group.

But what made him focus on improving PKG Mold equipment, with so much other equipment to choose from? In general, the equipment improvement mostly aims for better process efficiency. This case, however, began with Cho’s determination to resolve the difficulties of field workers who were dispatched from partner companies. Though the beginning may seem small, it eventually resulted in creating both EV and SV at the same time.

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“While only a very small amount, the sheet paper used in mold cleaning processes produces harmful pollutants. Workers have to wear cumbersome air purifying masks that hinder breathing. This motivated me to search for solutions to provide a better working environment for them.”

To solve this daily problem, Cho devised a new cleaning method. Instead of wiping off pollutants by inserting sheet paper manually, Cho’s newly invented method covers the mold equipment with a mold film to fundamentally prevent the contamination of molds. With Cho’s invention attached within the equipment, the upgraded PKG Mold Equipment automatically emits the used film and then covers the equipment with the new film between every compressing process.

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Eliminating the need to manually insert and remove sheet paper, field workers are now able to work in a safer and more pleasant working environment. The change from manual labor to an automatic processing also allows continuous operation of the equipment without stopping for the mold cleaning. Furthermore, unlike the sheet paper, the cleaning films do not produce environmentally harmful pollutants, and they are not classified as industrial wastes. As a result, the new invention reduced the cost for proper disposal of industrial wastes, i.e., the used sheet paper.

Process Efficiency Increased by 33% through Software Localization

While closely examining the cleaning process, Cho identified inefficiencies as well. He noticed that although the equipment holds three molds, only one or two were used and the rest was left idle.

“In the past, a mold was rarely replaced since the semiconductor manufacturing industry focused more on the mass production of a few major products. However, as the industry shifted to small-batch production of diverse products, it is now normal to change molds between each operation. Unfortunately, switching molds could take considerable time and efforts, and to solve this problem we used to install different types of molds in separated sections on a single equipment. But the idle mold issue remained unsolved, so I thought about replacing the existing software that only utilizes one mold type at once, with the upgraded multi-software that is capable of utilizing two types of molds simultaneously.”

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The aim was clear, but the procedure to realize it was a big challenge to overcome. Competitors had already tried and failed to implement the same idea in the past, with huge investment loss as a price. As a matter of fact, the proposal for software upgrade was rejected at first, as “it had a high risk of failing.” Partners also showed their disapproval.

“When dealing with the equipment used in the field, persuading workers to remove this equipment in order to make improvements is often the most challenging task, but this case was different. Since most workers were frustrated with the equipment’s limitations, they possessed the same desire for a much-needed upgrade. The real problem was how to decrease the risk of failing, since all partners from our equipment manufacturers to other partners were saying it was way too risky.”

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With numerous analysis, Cho relentlessly persuaded business partners that the software upgrade was a feasible task. Consequently, Cho and the partners succeeded in the joint development of the new software that supports multiple mold utilization. The software increased process efficiency by 33% and lessened the reliance on foreign software imports through localization. This project helped improve the partnering company’s technological prowess and expand its market influence, creating mutual growth.

SV of Approximately USD 10.1 Million was Created via DBL-inspired Equipment Upgrade

The enhanced equipment was tested at the end of 2018, and has been deployed in mass production process since early 2019. The ultimate goal is to transform the entire production line using the improved equipment within 2020. With proactive cooperation from the field, the replacement is being carried out smoothly. If this equipment is applied to all production lines, what would be the expected effect of that?

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Cho estimated that the EV and SV generated from the improvement were equal to USD 3.6 million and USD 10.1 million respectively. This means that a grand total DBL value of USD 13.7 million was created, a result of actively pursuing DBL system and leaving the outdated ways in the past. For this reason, the case is considered as a perfect example of how DBL practices in the field can go a long way in creating an enormous DBL value.

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Instead of simply handling the tasks they’re given, the people at SK hynix continue to try and discover new and better ways of working, with the aim of finding new methods of creating EV as well as SV. Cho said, “While people had solely pursued economic results (profit) in the past, members now feel it’s their duty to undergo tasks that inspire both EV and SV, even when simply suggesting an idea.”

Chang Yong Park, TL at Corporate Sustainability Management (CSM) said, “SK hynix plans to expand DBL system at the enterprise level in the future. By establishing operating programs at each corresponding DBL pursuing stages and developing standardized modules compatible with each internal organization, SK hynix plans to establish an environment where its members can easily access and commit themselves to forward-thinking DBL activities.”