Applied Materials has grown from a small start-up founded in 1967, into one of the world’s most admired global companies. Applied is a leader in materials engineering solutions used to produce virtually every new chip and advanced display in the world. One of the company’s fundamental commitments is to maintain sustainable and ethical business practices. According to Srinivas Satya, President and MD of Applied Materials India, “We strive to make a positive contribution not only to our industry but to our larger communities and the world around us. So, the whole concept of sustainability is very important for us.
Applied’s mission is to provide materials engineering solutions that enable customers to transform possibilities into reality. The company’s competencies are in highly sophisticated methods of materials deposition, removal, modification and analysis. The company applies these technologies primarily in systems used by its customers for semiconductor manufacturing. Applied Materials also plays a leadership role in display manufacturing systems. So, virtually every new flat panel TV or smartphone display that one sees has been processed on one of its systems. This involves forming thin layers of material on a glass substrate. Srinivas Satya says, “Our expertise in modifying materials at atomic levels and on an industrial scale applies to both glass substrates and silicon wafers.”
Applied Materials has a very active program called design for environment. The goal of this program is to design products and services to minimise the consumption of natural resources and maximise efficiency. The team asks questions like: How do we minimise the footprint energy consumption of our products? What design choices can we be making to optimise usage of electricity? How do we reduce emissions? How do we internally have additional steps so that the output has less impact on the environment? The company has reasonably aggressive standards on how much it wants to reduce the energy footprint of its machines. The India centre also contributes significantly to these initiatives.
The company’s actions are not limited to manufacturing alone; they link to the operations as well. Beginning from the supply chain and getting the material into the factory, each of the machines has thousands of parts that come together. For the sophisticated products the company ships it could be conservative and use a lot of packaging materials that would end up as waste. But then the energy footprint goes up. Thus, the company has a packaging technology team as well. They have expertise in designing reusable packaging, including specially engineered boxes, crates, shipping containers and transport carriers.
Reflecting on future trends and sustainability Srinivas Satya says, “Artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning are at an inflexion point. We know that 5G wireless is coming, later 6G. We are assessing the potential future sustainability impacts of these technologies as part of our overall Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy. What materials are used inside these devices? Can the devices and their components be recycled? How do you handle the refresh? Increasingly in the future, the conservation of materials will become super important.”
Based on a conversation with Srinivas Satya, President and Managing Director, Applied Materials India Private Ltd.