"Tech support doesn't put support calls on hold or forward us around and around. They support us, even if the problem is with facilities (fire sprinkler event or power outage) not the tool."
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“Our VERSALINE hasn't been down for more than a day, and Plasma-Therm spared no expense in getting us parts overnight when we needed them, and sometimes when we weren't even sure we needed them.”
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What Customers Are Saying

The following are recent interviews with people who work closely with Plasma-Therm technology. We asked about their experiences with technical support, parts replacement, and Plasma-Therm's Field Service Engineers.


Andrea Chen, Senior MEMS Design Engineer at PCB Piezotronics, took the time to review their Plasma-Therm's VERSALINE© ICP system and service that they've received over the last several years. Plasma-Therm is pleased to contribute as a partner to PCB Piezotronics' success and participate in a highly valued customer/vendor relationship.

Q: What was your experience with the installation of the VERSALINE®?

A: Plasma-Therm sent staff to uncrate the tool to our schedule, even in a snowstorm. The tool was up and running on schedule: one week to set it up, qualify processes, and train everyone.

Q: When you needed technical support, what type of support did you receive?

A: Plasma-Therm staff in Florida remote into our tool to troubleshoot equipment intricacies; they go from the system controller into the subsystem controller and from there query individual boards to pull error codes, perform firmware upgrades or reconfigure the system. This saves thousands of dollars on field service calls, and gets our system up and running right away. If there are physical parts that need to be checked, I get a custom set of directions from tech support that walks me through the process step-by-step. If they need to refer to a subsystem expert, the same service person takes the responsibility of getting the information for me. Tech support doesn't put support calls on hold or forward us around and around. They support us, even if the problem is with facilities (fire sprinkler event or power outage) not the tool. The guys are all knowledgeable, so you don't have to explain the problem to level one, level two, and then level three people. Solutions are customized to the problem, rather than starting everyone off with rebooting the system, for example.

Q: When field service work was needed, what type of support did you receive from your primary field service agent?

A: We have had the same primary field service engineer, Jesse Merino, since the installation. Plasma-Therm service engineers have professional attitude, deep knowledge of the system, systematic troubleshooting, and show up prepared with a good stash of spares and tools. Not only do they fix the problem they were called for, they go into the alarm history to see what other small issues they can fix while they are here. They give us tips they learn about how to better care for our system, and let us know about process and product upgrades we can do. Plasma-Therm field service engineering doesn't leave the site, unless the customer is ready for them to go. A competitor field service engineer came to fix a problem on a competitor tool, which he couldn't confirm in the first hour, so he left; when the problem recurred thirty minutes later, he was sitting in a movie theater with a box of popcorn, and he had to come back to fix the tool. Have you ever gotten an unsolicited call from semiconductor tech support? I have! Jesse calls me every six months or so to make sure I'm not having any problems and offers tips as needed.

Q: If a part needed to be replaced, did the part come in on time?

A: We have been able to overnight almost any part we've needed from Florida. Working with a competitor, the shipping took much longer, and something we shipped to them was lost somewhere in customs.

Q: Are you satisfied with the quality of warranty offered by Plasma-Therm?

A: Plasma-Therm is very good about setting high quality standards and honoring warrantees. They don't harass me about not wanting to cover a repair or upgrade.

Q: Any additional comments or thoughts?

A: Although tool prices are not cheap, the pricing reflects the true value of the package. Better to know costs up front and have great service and uptime, than to think you've gotten an amazing deal, but get stuck with weeks and weeks of downtime and service visits.

About PCB® Piezotronics, Inc.: Founded in 1967 and located in Depew, NY, PCB Piezotronics is a global leader in the design and manufacture of piezoelectric quartz sensors, accelerometers, and associated electronics for the measurement of dynamic pressure, force, and vibration. PCB's pioneering efforts to incorporate microelectronic signal conditioning circuitry within these sensors improve their utility and environmental compatibility. These widely accepted ICP® sensors compliment their core competency of charge output piezoelectric, piezoresistive, strain gauge, MEMS, and capacitive sensors and instrumentation. Total commitment to customer satisfaction combined with innovative and practical sensor technology for demanding environments and applications has established PCB as a key supplier to the sensor industry. (Return to top of page)

Carnegie Mellon University's Nanofabrication Facility
Carsen Kline, a process engineer at Carnegie Mellon University's Nanofabrication Facility in Pittsburgh, PA, took the time to review their VERSALINE© LL ICP as well the service and support provided by Plasma-Therm over the last nine months. We are proud of our customer relationship with Carnegie Mellon University and hope to provide them with the best customer service possible.

Q. Have you recently needed Plasma-Therm technical support and what were the circumstances?

A. I've been in touch with Tech Support a few times since we commissioned our VERSALINE in August. As examples, a solid-state relay on the spool heater has required repair and we are currently working with Technical Support to resolve a software issue. Two other problems I called in were traced to support systems upstream of the VERSALINE with the help of the engineers over the phone.

Q. Did Plasma-Therm provide a timely response that addressed your specific needs? (e.g. easy to get someone, call backs, parts shipping, field service visits, etc.)

A. Absolutely, the support is outstanding. I was able to resolve my hardware issues either over the phone the same day or with parts shipped the next day.

Q. Did the Technical Support Team meet or exceed your expectations in terms of providing a solution, timeliness, creativity, professional communication, efficiency, etc.

A. All of the above. Our VERSALINE hasn't been down for more than a day, and Plasma-Therm spared no expense in getting us parts overnight when we needed them, and sometimes when we weren't even sure we needed them. On one occasion we had a blocked gas line and several possible solutions. Technical Support shipped an MFC in the event that we might need it, and when we didn't need it, we were able to return it at no charge.

Q. Are you satisfied with the warranty service provided by Plasma-Therm?

A. Yes, Plasma-Therm's warranty service is top-notch.

Q. Are there any other comments or thoughts on your interaction or relationship with Plasma-Therm?

A. Starting with our site visit to St. Petersburg hosted by Brad Williford, my interaction with Plasma-Therm has been positive, productive, and welcoming. I had the pleasure of working with Rohit Khanna for final acceptance testing, and aside from proving the system was as good as Plasma-Therm said it was, he and I spent time trying many iterations of etch recipes to fine-tune our aluminum nitride process. We got some great SEM images out of the trials and we're using his optimized recipe to this day.

More recently I attended a day-long workshop on plasma processing given by David Lishan and hosted by Penn State. I can't say enough good things about this seminar, and I am grateful to have the tremendous amount of valuable information presented that day. I know I will be constantly referring back to David's slides in the future, and I intend to also become an active member of the online forum for plasma processing.

About Carnegie Mellon University's Nanofabrication Facility: The Carnegie Mellon Nanofabrication Facility is one of the most well equipped university based facilities for thin film and nano/micro device development in the United States. The Nanofab includes an extensive class 10 cleanroom as well as three thin film labs. Faculty, staff, and students work in the labs collaborating on projects in areas that include process development of data storage materials and devices, MEMS, semiconductor materials and quantum structures, and integrated electro-optics.
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