At Intel, our manufacturing facilities are right at the heart of what we do. Our network of factories across the globe includes some of the largest, and most complex manufacturing spaces that have ever been built. And when it’s time to build a new factory – or fab as we call it – the task is led by our Fab Construction Enterprise (FCE) team.
The Intel campus in Leixlip, Co. Kildare is currently home to one of the largest construction projects in Europe, building out expanded space that will double the manufacturing capacity for Intel in Ireland. Along with this expansion project, there are many ongoing construction activities that are required as part of normal operations at a large technology campus. The FCE team lead each of these projects and all they entail.
Construction as an industry is one that is typically male dominated, but Intel is committed to growing our diverse workforce in this area. We recently caught up with some of the women in our FCE team to find out more about their roles at Intel.
Sarah Jarrett is a Construction Project Manager who joined Intel in 2010.
Can you tell us about your job role at Intel and how it fits within FCE organisation?
I work in the area of tool install. My specific area of focus is the installation of the Automated Material Handling System – or AMHS – inside in the new factory being built in Leixlip. Once the base build is complete, AMHS is the first group that comes into the building to begin installation.
The AMHS is a multilevel track system inside Intel’s fab on which thousands of autonomous vehicles shuttle our most precious cargo – silicon wafers that each contain hundreds of chips.
As the AMHS project manager, it is my job to provide all of the facilities that run to the AMHS stockers and track. The track in particular is significant for Intel as it touches every part of the fab. I guess you could describe the AMHS as more of a system really than a tool.
It’s fun getting to work with such a unique system – the AMHS is a custom installation for every project, there’s no copy and paste, it’s always new. Every building is different, and we are depending on the tool layout to determine the exact configuration of the track system. It will always have some customisation to the exact building. Whilst it’s fun being the first into the building, there are a lot of challenges that come with it as well.
We start our designs first, and the timeframe is always tightening – it’s getting more parallel to actual tool install. As we get more competitive in our build schedules, timings have shifted and therefore so has the role.
Previously, our scope was completed in somewhat of a bubble, but now we have more overlap with both base build that comes before us and tool install that follows. We are constantly looking at how we can improve, operate more efficiently, and make it so that the project timelines can shorten.
Right now, we are installing AMHS in the first module of the new factory with stockers being built and track being hung on the ceiling.
What is involved in a typical day’s work?
There’s kind of 2 different jobs involved. First you have the preparation stage that happens before you get to a major project. In preparation there’s a lot of planning, meetings, making sure the right people talk to one another, understanding deigns, ensuring that the team have ordered everything that will be needed, etc. It’s months and months of meetings, full days online doing the likes of design reviews and coordination meetings, ordering, managing schedules and so on.
After the planning, we move to the physical construction phase – doing work in the field. This involves a lot of what you might call ‘firefighting’ – looking for fixes to issues that emerge, problem solving, conflict resolution, coordinating between different groups, getting everybody talking, managing contracts etc.
We’re coordinating our work with two major groups and then on top of that we also work very closely with our vendors who we meet with regularly. This part of a project involves heavy integration with other teams, a lot of change management, and a lot of flux in the schedule.
Ideally, I would spend most of my time in the field, being able to go out to the construction site itself. Seeing people and talking to them in person solves issues much quicker than if I were to hold a meeting online. It also allows for finding potential issues before they become problems. As the Intel PM, having your face out there, working on issues and helping people really does drive the project. When people can put a face to a name, I feel it helps get them bought in and invested in the work.
Right now, I get to the cleanroom twice a week doing site walks that are about 3 hours long each. It’s a long process to get down to the site itself but you can see and address a lot when you get there in person. The rest of the time is spent in meetings coordinating between our different groups.
How did you end up in this role?
When I was graduating from college as an engineer, there was an opportunity to take 6 months off for an internship, but as I was an athlete in college, I couldn’t take that time off. This is usually where job offers came from. One of my classmates came to me after their internship and offered me their interview at Intel (they had taken another job). I ended up being connected to Intel that way. I was offered the position as a construction project manager and spent 6 months doing small projects and travelling with a mentor. Then one day I was assigned the role of AMHS project manager after a reorg, and I took that in stride and have been working on AMHS ever since. I worked closely with the factory – or fab – side of the house, working with people in Oregon for instance to really understand what the AMHS is, how it works etc. I eventually took a position to do AMHS install in Israel and working there developed my confidence and assertiveness. I started to learn how to really stand up and say what I think. I took that learning back to Oregon and became the lead for AMHS there. When the opportunity came up to work in Ireland, I jumped on it and here I am. Next year, I will go back to Oregon where I can continue to use my learnings to help FCE and Intel. Each project is another opportunity for me to develop and grow and I think that helps me, but it also helps FCE.
Can you tell us something you enjoy about the role?
I think it’s the thrill of the constant changes and getting to do something different all the time. The problem solving, making improvements, simple fixes – getting the freedom to say, ‘hey what if we did this crazy thing’. I really like that I have the support to do that – it’s my favourite part of my job. Well, that and the travel. 😊
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