ISC creates trailblazing semiconductor testing technologies
The company plans to build a smart factory in China, and welcomes partnerships with local companies, especially those with strong links to the Chinese government
The year 1999 was a special time for semiconductor manufacturers worldwide. While electronic brands were creating more complex microchips for their latest gadgets, such semiconductors required sophisticated testing technologies.
A solution came at the turn of the century when a high-technology company in South Korea helped pioneer the invention of what is today called the silicone rubber socket.
Samsung Electronics collaborated with tech innovator ISC for the research and development (R&D) of a new generation of testing equipment for its chips. “We were not yet a test-socket developer at that time, but all existing industry players refused to jump in because the market was too small then,” says Chung Young-bae, president, chairman and founder of ISC. “I knew, however, that the market would soon grow, and it did.”
Interspersed with gold powder inside, the silicone rubber socket provides a far stronger electrical connection between the integrated circuits (ICs) being tested and the test equipment compared with the old system. Before the invention of the silicone rubber socket, semiconductor testing companies used complex metal connectors resembling pogo sticks with springs inside them.
“It is a patent war,” Chung says. “Intellectual properties and patents are extremely important in this industry.”
This is why ISC acquired JMT, a Japanese technology company specialising in high-performance contactors. After the acquisition, the total number of patents owned by ISC rose by 327 to more than 600. Even so, Chung is still looking to acquire or partner with more technology companies.
ISC is committed to maintain its technological leadership by doubling its annual allocation for R&D to more than 10 per cent of overall sales.
In particular, ISC would like to emphasise on reinforcing or enhancing its R&D activities in collaboration with JMT, while continuing its collaboration with leading technical universities in South Korea such as Pohang University of Science and Technology and Seoul National University.
The company complements its technological expertise with excellent customer service. While the letter “I” in ISC stands for innovation, the letters “S” and “C” stand for speed and creation of client-centric solutions.
“Even though customers do not request it, we dispatch our experts to them on the field in case the client will have any problems or complaints,” Chung says. “If they will ask us for a prototype today, we can provide it tomorrow.”
ISC is also able to deliver significant cost savings to clients by offering the whole range of testing products under one roof. Its product portfolio spans from ultra-high-speed test sockets through to test jigs used in automating quality-control procedures.
These customer-service strategies are summarised in the company’s mantra abbreviated as QCD-3S. QCD represents ISC’s goal of providing clients with the optimal level of quality, cost and delivery, while 3S stands for the provision of the best service, speed and solution.
Soon enough, China-based companies will also experience ISC’s brand of technology and service. The company plans to build a smart factory in China. This move will allow ISC to manufacture competitively, thus enabling it to compete even in the lower price band of the market.
“We have already set our plan into motion, and guided by our philosophy of providing future clients in China with the best levels of technology and service, we will have the smart factory ready in three years’ time,” Chung says.
To ensure the success of its plan in China, ISC welcomes partnerships with local companies, especially those with strong links to the Chinese government. The company also looks forward to being listed on the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing and the Nasdaq Stock Market, while it is on the lookout for more mergers and acquisitions.