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Capital Equipment Manufacturers

We help clients stay ahead of technology trends, acquire intellectual property, and manage time-to-market challenges.

We help capital equipment companies stay at the forefront of modern semiconductor technology. Whether it’s keeping up with the pace of Moore’s Law via the latest innovations in lithography, etching, or new mask sets, or navigating the cyclical nature of the sector, we address these challenges and define technology strategies that bring the future into sharp focus. We use our cross-industry supply-chain expertise to help navigate the sector’s ever-larger and more complex supply chains. In addition, we have perspectives on the future of 450 millimeter wafers, which will require the design of a whole new generation of equipment.

In helping clients address these challenges, we have proven methodologies for improving R&D processes and decreasing time-to-market metrics by 15 to 30 percent. At the same time, we help capital equipment manufacturers improve their predictability and reduce cycle times for specific tools on the shop floor. On the cost side of the ledger, leveraging design-to-value techniques, clean-sheet analyses and other methods, we typically help clients reduce material costs by 15 percent or more.

In terms of the organizational challenges, we help clients discover root causes of past failures and then address these issues via changes in organizational structures and reengineered processes. We also help capital equipment manufacturers improve overall performance by transforming them from older manufacturing techniques to a modern performance culture.

This area draws on the Semiconductor Practice’s roster of more than 300 consultants, many of whom worked for semiconductor companies prior to joining McKinsey. The rest have advanced degrees in mathematics, engineering, and physics, which give them deep insights into all steps of the semiconductor value chain.

Examples of our work

  • We recently helped a capital equipment company redesign its product-development process, reformulating the way core decisions are made as a product moves from drawing board to production line.
  • We helped another client develop a systematic program to screen for adjacencies, helping it tap sources of growth outside the traditional semiconductor business, with the ultimate goal of doubling the company’s revenue.
  • We designed a large-scale efficiency and productivity program to improve the performance of the client’s functions, from procurement to manufacturing, from R&D to services. Overall savings on materials was 15 percent, and the time-to-market improvements improved by a similar margin.


Bill Wiseman

Senior Partner, Seattle



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