Coburn Technologies: Hearing the Voice of the Customer, Large and Small

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NEW YORK—For Alex Incera, president of Coburn Technologies, the process of innovation begins with the voice of the customer. “They’ll talk about things like serviceability—the ability to extract data and the ability to incorporate that data into their own systems and reporting.” From there, Coburn extrapolates from the need to “deliver the tools that the customer may never have even envisioned when they made the initial request.”

This has meant taking the concept of extracting data from the equipment to offer the ability “to apply predictive components to their service and preventative maintenance schedule,” so maintenance teams can be more proactive. He cites the company’s Velocity automated coater and the Duality de-taper and lens cleaner as an example of a fully automated system that “delivers historic data through AI with predictive algorithms that can offer data used to ward off failures and potential maintenance that is required.”

According to Incera, a trend has emerged from the application of the “voice of the customer” approach, whereby “these needs are almost always first and foremost verbalized and developed for the larger labs, and over time evolve to the point where they kind of migrate down to the smaller facilities.” Often, while the technology applied to larger and smaller labs is similar, the needs are different. Incera said, “The larger automated labs just can’t afford to have equipment down. At the smaller labs, they don’t have the trained personnel to predict when they’re going to have to perform certain functions on equipment.”

This is why Coburn has developed the Free-Form Mini-Lab Concept, where, Incera said, they have “taken the concept of a large-scale, high-speed, fully automated surfacing system and scaled it down into a smaller footprint that is more economical. We’ve bought that technology and the same concept of forward-thinking preventative maintenance down to that level.”