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Fab owners, unite!

FOA may not stand for the Fraternal Order of Acrobats, but its members often have to perform the equivalent of somersaults to stay competitive. The founding companies of the recently formed Fab Owners Association ( want a "cooperative environment for executives to examine common manufacturing issues and identify practical solutions," according to FOA executive director, L.T. Guttadauro.

FOA's members—AMI, ZMD, Cypress, ON Semi, Delphi, Micrel, Fairchild, LSI Logic, and Intersil—are not first-tier companies. Guttadauro says that "these smaller second- and third-tier guys, running not necessarily leading-edge technologies, found it compelling to talk to people who were having the same issues with older fabs and older fab equipment."

FOA has surveyed its members twice so far: the first poll sought general info (number of fabs, wafer types/starts, etc.), while the second one focused on what Guttadauro calls "problematic equipment.... A fab manager looks at this database and says, 'Gee, I'm not the only one that has equipment XYZ.... I want to talk to that other guy who has XYZ and maybe we can do something together.... Maybe we can trade spare parts, or I can buy his, or he can buy mine."

The group is also exploring collective purchasing possibilities, although Guttadauro says any "buying consortiums" will be formed "down the line, as the association matures." He knows working with senior executives from the manufacturing area is a formidable task. "What are they concerned about? Tomorrow's output. My challenge is getting them to look at what's on the horizon, and what's over the horizon."

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