Celebrating Thirty Years of Precision Automation

Genmark Automation
Written by Claire Suttles

Genmark Automation, Inc. creates patented atmospheric and vacuum transfer robots, integration software, motion controls and peripheral devices such end effectors – the use-specific tools at the end of a robotic arm. The company’s material handling systems are custom designed to improve its customers’ productivity, competitiveness and bottom line in the global semiconductor, data storage and flat panel display markets.
From its headquarters in a 100,000-square-foot facility in Silicon Valley, industrial automation firm Genmark has undergone a significant transformation since its humble beginnings inside a California garage. The company originated as a typical start-up, though its resulting success has been anything but typical as it has now positioned itself as the premier provider of automated solutions for the semiconductor market.

Genmark’s original focus was on industrial automation. At the time of the company’s inception, both industrial automation and the semiconductor business were new, and the majority of loading activities were still performed manually. As automation and its many advantages were being recognized on a wider scale, demand grew, and Genmark was already at the forefront of the industry.

“One of the things that allow us to be successful is that we are able to automate systems which generally people would find more difficult or time-consuming to do,” explained Executive Vice President Worldwide Sales and Marketing Carl McMahon. “That is really where the company has founded its roots and stayed true to them over the last thirty years.”

The company has found success in adapting to technological advancements in the industry. Thirty years later, it continues to offer the highest quality products, services and technology. Genmark’s completely integrated solutions enable its customers to achieve exceptional results.

Genmark finds every opportunity to deliver the highest value for its customers. One such example is the SoftMax 300 HT™, a wafer handling system capable of achieving the highest wafer per hour throughput while adhering to strict specifications.

As technology has advanced, so too have Genmark’s capabilities, products and services. Over time, the company moved from atmospheric products, into vacuum products and processes. Genmark was also the first to offer heavy payload systems. It adopted the latest in motion controls which substantially expanded its engineering, software and contract equipment manufacturing services. With the challenging conditions currently facing the global manufacturing environment, contract manufacturing presents a low-cost and high-efficiency alternative to operating and maintaining a facility.

“We have been true to our roots and not just stuck in the past, and that has allowed us to evolve quite effectively in the marketplace,” McMahon said. Genmark recently launched a new product, the CODEX™ Stocker. The CODEX™ Stocker combines metering, sorting and stocking in a single tool. This tool stores and dispenses substrates on demand.

The CODEX is revolutionary in that it reduces overall tool footprint, releasing valuable floor space for other uses in the highly-specialized semiconductor manufacturing facilities that are known as fabs. The stocker uses a one-of-a-kind library retrieval system for semiconductor manufacturing that enables real-time measurement and data tracking. It is reliable and can be configured to customer specifications to optimize performance.

“The CODEX is unique. It is the first time where a company has integrated the sorting of wafers, the stocking of wafers and the metrology of wafers all into one system,” described McMahon. The company is also developing vacuum transfer chambers for heavy payloads.

Through the development, design and manufacture of precision robotic and highly integrated solutions, Genmark offers the guarantee of high-performance reliability and is always finding new ways to adapt, evolve and take full advantage of opportunities in the automation market.

“Device sizes are shrinking. Go back ten years ago; they were at a micron, if not two microns. Now they are on the quarter micron scale which means that the requirements for handling are moving away from people and more towards automation,” explained McMahon.

Genmark’s quality is a result of the company’s commitment research and development. The hardware and software are designed to work together efficiently and effectively, and product quality and reliability are reinforced by the results-oriented team of highly-skilled experts with decades of industry experience.

“Most of the guys that we have here are fifteen to twenty-year industry veterans who understand intimately the technology requirements of the products. Delivering a product that has to be greater than three to four hundred times in an hour down to an accuracy of the thickness of a human hair,” explained McMahon. “It requires a high degree of technical skill.”

The company’s engineering professionals field customer inquiries regarding products and services. These engineers possess the industry knowledge and expertise necessary to provide immediate assistance through either remote diagnostics or on-site services.

“In my career, I’ve worked with some very large companies along the way, but I have never experienced an engineering team who, so very quickly and very accurately, can assess what needs to be done from a technical perspective,” stated McMahon.

Genmark is vertically-integrated, and its approach to total customer satisfaction relies heavily on the coordination of all of its component departments. Its complete quality control system merges quality development, maintenance and improvement efforts across the entire company, including marketing, engineering, production and service.

To achieve consistently precise results, Genmark dedicates itself to rigorous quality controls and testing in-house. The company is ISO 9001 certified and complies with the highest quality control standards and procedures. In doing so, it ensures reliable automation and optimal performance.

“We do a very thorough final testing before anything leaves the factory. When you consider automation, you have to run at greater than ninety-nine percent up-time.” These robots are expected to operate twenty-four hours a day, year-round.

To ensure total customer satisfaction, Genmark develops strong customer relationships and open lines of communication. The company identifies and understands customer specifications enabling it to increase customer value in both its products and supports. The company also makes training classes available to give customers an understanding of the products and systems. “We believe here in training our customers to be almost standalone in our products,” McMahon explained. “We offer training classes regionally and at our headquarters as well.”

The classes are of great use to the clients. After participating in the training sessions, they are better equipped to add the appropriate technical information that supplies critical details to specific inquiries. It also aids in being able to receive necessary feedback.

“Just telling me it’s stopped, is not good enough. They have to tell us why it’s stopped and send us the appropriate data files. That requires the technical competence, and that requires us to teach people to have that technical capability,” McMahon said. There is a great benefit to equipping clients with hands-on experience and training. By providing them with the principles of the mechanics, calibration and programming of the robotic systems, Genmark maximizes customers’ value and operational efficiency.

Both quality and safety are of paramount importance. “There’s electricity; there’s pneumatics and there’s power, so there is a very strong culture of safety here as well,” stated McMahon. “We pride ourselves on always making sure that everybody should feel as though they are going to get in their car and go home every day and not be put in an unsafe situation.”

Always looking to the future, Genmark is poised to take full advantage of any market opportunities. The company finds ways to adopt new technology and applies its products and solutions to improve efficiency and throughput which ultimately results in increased customer satisfaction.

Genmark offers global sales and customer support that is available at any time. Besides its Fremont, California headquarters, the company has locations in Germany, China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Korea and Israel.

“For a company our size, we have a very large global footprint. We’re basically in every one of the major semiconductor manufacturing areas – both backend and frontend – and that definitely requires a level of experience and expertise that not every company can provide,” McMahon said.

The company continues to grow by recognizing the potential in the biomedical and medical research markets, identifying potential adjacent industries in which its products and systems may be applicable and adopting emerging technologies



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