Water Supply Interrupted
Emergency water treatment products and services provided by Layne Christensen were as good as gold—or at least copper—to Tempe, Ariz.,-based Entrepix, a leading provider of chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) and related wafer surface conditioning foundry and equipment services.
High purity water is key for Entrepix. Its operation includes two reverse osmosis (RO) systems running around the clock to provide high purity water to semiconductor clean rooms and the CMP equipment. When the CMP polishers are not in operation, they are kept at “wet idle” to preserve the polishing pads and brushes. Entrepix cannot operate when its water supply is interrupted.
With the rise of the price of copper in recent years, it was only a matter of time before the exterior backflow preventer in the Entrepix high purity water system was stolen for its meltdown value. To make matters worse, the water main to the facility was shut off during the theft, which occurred on a Sunday while Entrepix was closed.
On the following Monday morning the Entrepix staff arrived to find dry and damaged water treatment equipment, leaving them unable to operate the facility.
Steve Horowitz, chief operating officer for Entrepix, immediately thought of Layne Christensen’s Water Technologies Group and put in a call to General Manager Dennis Tharan. Over the last several years, Entrepix has utilized Layne’s industrial water treatment services for mobile membrane cleaning and deionization tank exchange. Layne refurbishes Entrepix’ RO systems, inspecting and testing the RO membranes several times a year. When capacity is compromised, Layne cleans the membranes with a mobile clean-in-place (CIP) system. The RO systems have built-in redundancy, so the membranes can be cleaned during uninterrupted operation.
Within hours of receiving Horowitz’s call, Tharan and other personnel from Layne’s Phoenix Center for Excellence (CFE) arrived at Entrepix with a mobile RO system and other equipment necessary to resume operations.
Upon inspection, Layne determined that two water-lubricated pumps were irreparably damaged and had caused the destruction of RO system membranes when the impellers broke off. Layne immediately replaced the damaged pumps from CFE inventory and replaced the damaged membranes. Within hours, high purity water was again flowing through the Entrepix facility.
Although Entrepix lost a considerable amount in polishing pads and brushes, Layne’s quick response meant no loss in revenue. “I am extremely happy with the service that was provided to us in our time of need,” Horowitz said. “Layne could have easily taken advantage of us that day, but when we looked at the cost of their services, it was more than reasonable for the excellent job that they did.”
It was important that Entrepix was able to maintain operations. With the success of its CMP FastForward process, lost momentum would have been costly. “Given today’s economic challenges, we are fortunate to be a growing company that is actually expanding and hiring,” Horowitz said.
To safeguard against repeat offenses, Entrepix has installed sensors that sound an alarm if the RO systems experience extreme pressure changes. Should Entrepix’s deterrents fail, Layne stands ready with mobile systems and expert staff just minutes away.