4-page Case Study
Posted: 6/4/2012
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Kodak Image Sensor Solutions Kodak Image Sensor Solutions Takes Control of Manufacturing with Powerful MES Platform

Kodak Image Sensor Solutions (ISS) division is solving its customers’ needs by developing, manufacturing, and marketing solid state charged-coupled devices (CCD) and complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensors. As strong growth in the image sensor market put increasing pressure on the company’s semiconductor facility, Kodak ISS determined that its existing manufacturing execution system and server database management platform needed to perform at a higher level. The company chose to implement the Camstar Enterprise Platform Manufacturing Execution System running on Windows Server 2008, Internet Information Services 7.0, Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, and Microsoft SQL Server 2008. Kodak ISS now has more control and flexibility in its manufacturing, which helps it to speed new product introductions, improve visibility, and enhance the bottom line.

Based in Rochester, New York, Kodak Image Sensor Solutions (ISS) develops, manufactures, and markets image sensors for applications ranging from satellite and medical imaging solutions to digital cameras and machine vision products. Kodak’s high-end image sensors are used in a variety of products; as a result, it must manufacture them to meet the exact specifications for each customer application. Kodak ISS produces more than 400 different products and must manage specific process flows in fab (fabrication), in addition to the assembly and testing for each product.

The front-end operation puts silicon wafers within a lot on a workflow that involves about 300 to 400 steps. This process takes from three to four months to complete. The back-end workflow takes the die—the imagers that are on those wafers—and cuts them into individual die or sensors, and then packages them into a product that can be used in any number of devices. This takes about 10 days to two weeks to complete.

In the front end, Kodak collects a high volume of data at critical points in the workflow to make sure that the wafers are within the required specifications. For example, it measures the product for particle count, film thickness, and critical alignment. With such a complex process, there are many potential points of failure— any of which can prove to be very costly in terms of time, material, labor, equipment, and customer satisfaction.

“We're always monitoring to get any indication of a problem,” says Joe Blakely, IT Manager at Kodak ISS. “We need to find out sooner rather than later that a process is trending out of control, which is helping drive our yield. So, if we're having a problem with a furnace tube or if some chemical exposure process is nearing a specification limit, we can react very quickly. We can make sure that any damage is minimized and send damaged material to rework processes to recover the valuable wafers in the event that something does get out of spec.”

According to Blakely, what frustrated Kodak ISS with its previous shop floor system was that it could put information into it, but struggled to get information out. It was difficult to work with, and didn’t provide the responsiveness necessary for tight control of operations in the fab. Further, the division’s business operations manager put together a financial argument that showed the company losing between 5 and 10 lots per year due to errors in the shop floor system—errors that cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars at the same time the business was growing rapidly.

The division was determined to replace its shop floor tracking system with an Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) that was more flexible, scalable, and easy-to-use, and that would enable the company to improve yield, decrease costs, eliminate waste, and bring products to the market faster.

After researching multiple potential MES solutions, Kodak ISS decided to go with the Camstar Enterprise Platform Manufacturing Execution System. “We went through an analysis process; in the end, Camstar was clearly the best choice to meet our requirements,” says Blakely.

* Running Camstar on SQL Server gives us a level of flexibility and control that we appreciate now, and we expect even more benefits in the future. 111 *

Joe Blakely
IT Manager, Kodak Image Sensor Solutions

Kodak ISS chose to run the Camstar solution on the Microsoft server product portfolio, including Windows Server 2008, Internet Information Services 7.0, Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, and Microsoft SQL Server 2008.

The financial case built by the business operations manager added significant weight to the proposal brought before the ultimate decision makers. “We needed to make a change, and management supported that change based on the compelling evidence,” says Blakely.

As part of the new system, Kodak ISS implemented Camstar’s “bill of process,” which provides real-time tracking of each device as it moves through the manufacturing process. The system employs on-the-spot quality checks and statistical process control (SPC), using predefined definitions and action plans. It instantly notifies personnel of production problems, enabling process engineers to address issues quickly and prevent serious quality problems.

According to Blakely, the transition was seamless. “We retained all our information,” he says. “All the workflows matched up. The verification elements that we built with Camstar's help really accelerated that process. People were extremely happy that we could transfer in a weekend and go directly from the legacy system to the Camstar system.”

Kodak operators like the user interface and the way that it is organized around work centers. For the operator, everything in the interface is focused on just the work coming in and out of that operator's work center, minimizing time on the screen and maximizing his or her time working on product.

Integral to the Camstar implementation was the migration of Kodak’s database from Oracle to Microsoft SQL Server 2008. “From an IT perspective, the SQL Server database was much easier to use in terms of access to how the database tables relate, running queries, and utilizing the Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio is a fundamental part of it,” says Blakely. This saved cost and effort, while enabling more detailed reporting and analysis. “SQL Server has a much less demanding learning curve than our previous database management system, and it comes with an integrated, intuitive business intelligence solution built in,” continues Blakely. “Now we have all these reports, as well as an enhanced ability to analyze yield processing and cycle times for statistical process control and for evaluating that data in reports and exporting it to Microsoft Excel.” As a result, Kodak engineers were finally able to access data that they had always wanted, and it was much easier to get information that could help them improve processes, yields, and product quality.

Since implementing the Camstar Enterprise Platform and Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Kodak ISS has been able to control production—and research and development (R&D)—to an extent unimagined with its prior MES and database.

Running R&D with Production to Speed New Product Introductions
To maintain a competitive position in the marketplace, Kodak ISS needs a rapid new product introduction cycle with reliable quality, which is why the company must support some involved product R&D on the way to a stable process. Kodak ISS does this by enabling experimental flows, known as “short loops,” within the primary workflows. Then it can define splits for R&D lots far ahead in the workflow.

“We are able to use the same system to do both,” says Brian Sopko, Manufacturing Engineering Manager at Kodak ISS. “When we start out doing prototype work, we integrate the process flow directly into the Camstar system. For us, the process evolves within the system. That way we don't first go through the prototype stage, then transfer information from one system to another to start production. The same system allows us to do both: the prototyping and volume manufacturing. Camstar eliminates a transition step, and that's really important in saving time and cost in new product introductions, and ensuring that processes are stable and reliable to maximize yields and quality.”

“R&D is the enabler to future products,” says Blakely. “Once the experimentation is concluded, tested and stable, production workflows are created from the R&D workflows. The Camstar solution is easily adapted to help us achieve this goal.”

Exceptional Price/Performance Ratio Lowers TCO
Kodak ISS has found the price/performance ratio of Camstar Enterprise Platform running on SQL Server to be exceptional. In terms of scalability and performance, the solution can achieve whatever requirements Kodak asks of it. “When I’m asked about the benefits and results of this solution, I always say it comes down to, ‘What do you need it to do?’” says Blakely. “Anything that we've asked it to do, we've always been able to figure out the appropriate business rules and configuration; we can get the Camstar software to perform to meet that business need.”

A new benchmark confirms the high performance of the Camstar Enterprise Platform running on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008 R2. The study demonstrated over 700 Camstar MES transactions per second while supporting several thousand concurrent application users.

Using real manufacturing production models in Camstar Manufacturing, the solution more than triples the maximum MES transaction volume that could ever be required by a Camstar customer. This benchmark testing affirms Microsoft SQL Server with the Camstar Enterprise Platform fulfills the requirements for the largest manufacturing environments in the world in terms of performance and scalability. It shows that customers can achieve the best performance at a lower total cost of ownership than with alternative solutions.

Unparalleled Flexibility and Control Ensures Efficiency
Kodak ISS has a diverse portfolio of products. Even within that product portfolio, there is some variance for each of those products that requires some specification inline to make each perform differently for the end customer. That requires Kodak to have:

  1. The flexibility within its manufacturing execution system to have many different process workflows.
  2. Specifications set up to be defined on the shop floor so that the operators can execute them correctly to get the right end result.

The Camstar MES is easily configured to do this.

“Along with that complexity, we also have a thorough statistical process control system integrated into the Camstar system,” says Sopko. At any given process step, there might be a series of measurements that the operators will have to execute. When they finish that step, they automatically upload the data into the SPC database as they complete the transaction. The statistical analysis will run in the background to validate that data against the limits in place. If there is an event that is out of control, the Camstar system triggers an automatic response, a series of corrective actions, and executes notifications to the appropriate manufacturing engineers to let them know that an out of control event has occurred.

This prevents process problems or excursions from running out of control and exposing more products to that same problem. In many cases, a series of instructions embedded into the Camstar system are presented for the operator to follow to contain and resolve the problem. This may provide instructions about equipment that they should shut down or a series of tests that they should run to re-center the process and allow continued processing. It also provides specific instructions about what to do for that lot, so that if necessary, corrections or adjustments on that lot can be made to account for the variation in the process that was observed. By making that real-time decision to make that process adjustment, it allows the lot to be saved and production to continue.

Powerful Reporting Capabilities Provide Necessary Visibility
According to Blakely, the business intelligence capability of the SQL Server solution is important. Kodak is able to use the solution to dynamically create new online reports to satisfy engineering needs around data they want, either because it was collected or there is some unique circumstance relative to lots that went through a particular work step, and they want to be able to track that lot history. “We're able to build reports like that—they are not trivial reports—and we're able to do it pretty quickly,” says Blakely. “Running Camstar on SQL Server gives us a level of flexibility and control that we appreciate now, and we expect even more benefits in the future,” says Blakely.

These reports are web-based, and highly dependent on the relationship between the Camstar product and the SQL Server database, because that report is just a very sophisticated front end to generate the SQL (standard query language) that is needed to pull the data out of the database. “Report generation is a key problem-solving tool for the engineering team,” adds Sopko. “It's part of what makes this a very powerful and effective system. The fact that we can quickly create custom reports is a key aspect of this mission-critical technology.”

Elimination of Waste Enhances the Bottom Line
Since the implementation of Camstar running on SQL Server, there have been very few lot losses, and none attributable to problems with the software. “They have all been equipment-related,” says Blakely. “There's only been one time that we damaged a lot due to a change that we made in our business rules, but we caught it in time because of the data collection and statistical process control that we're doing all the time. Fortunately, we were able to rework that lot and didn't lose any of the material.”

In the seven years since system implementation, based on the amount of lot losses previously, the system has saved Kodak ISS hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Microsoft Server Product Portfolio
For more information about the Microsoft server product portfolio, go to:


For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:

For more information about Kodak ISS products and services, call (585) 722-4385 or go to the website at:

Solution Overview

Organization Size: 19000 employees

Organization Profile

Kodak Image Sensor Solutions (ISS) develops, manufactures, and markets image sensors for applications ranging from satellite and medical imaging solutions to digital cameras and machine vision products.

Business Situation

Kodak ISS used a Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) system that management and operators found difficult to work with, and which failed to provide easy visibility into the company’s complex semiconductor fabricating process, resulting in both process inefficiency and material waste.


The company implemented the Camstar Enterprise Platform MES running on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and the Microsoft server product portfolio.


  • Improved visibility through real-time tracking in manufacturing
  • Faster and more effective research and development (R&D) to speed new products into production
  • Lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and higher performance

Third Party Software
  •  Camstar Enterprise Platform Manufacturing Execution System

Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2008

Vertical Industries
Manufacturing & Resources

United States