AI Case Study

Western Digital to reduce CapEx by optimising test equipment using machine learning

Western Digital is optimising test processes in an attempt to lower capital expenditure. Using machine learning and neural networks the company aims to optimise the test environment in order to reduce investments in test equipment for hard drive manufacturing.



Technology Hardware And Equipment

Project Overview

"Given the foresight with which the company has developed its AI and big data strategy, it’s no surprise that among its most advanced AI use cases is optimizing that test environment. “We’re using advanced machine learning and convolutional neural networks to improve our wafer yield management,” said CIO Steve Phillpott. “And we’re using those same algorithms to start identifying and optimizing our test processes, which can help us save hundreds of millions of dollars in capital.”

With a global workforce of 68,000, Western Digital has built a big data and analytics platform that supports a variety of workloads, architectures, and technologies to deliver value to business users of all skill levels. While entry-level analysts can leverage the platform to visualize data in Tableau or perform ad-hoc queries in RStudio, data scientists can make use of advanced techniques to monitor and optimize manufacturing and operations capabilities.

As Western Digital finds increasingly advanced AI use cases in 2019, its flexible platform ensures that the organization continues realizing value while its analytics capabilities mature.

Reported Results

Results undisclosed




"The integration of a major acquisition is the bane of the existence of many executives. Chief information officers have special challenges during such scenarios, since, after all, they must think about the people, processes, and technologies that must be integrated. This is an enormous amount of change to usher in.

When Steve Phillpott became CIO of $19 billion revenue developer, manufacturer and provider of data storage devices and solutions, Western Digital less than two and a half years ago, the company was nearly a third of its current size. With the acquisition of HGST in 2015 and the acquisition of SanDisk in 2016, there was no avoiding the fact that this would be a heavy lift for Phillpott and his colleagues. This was all announced in his first months on the job." (Forbes)

"One of the biggest expenses in hard drive manufacturing can be test equipment, so for $19 billion Western Digital, optimizing the test environment can save hundreds of millions of dollars in CapEx." (CIO)

"Then on the far top of the maturity learning curve, we start getting into the artificial intelligence powered learning. We leverage self-healing systems, advanced machine learning, or neural networks, and we use that type of technology to improve yield management. Or we might use those same machine learning algorithms to identify and optimize our test processes.

One of the biggest investments in hard drive manufacturing can be test equipment. We have neural networks and machine learning that help us optimize that test environment which can help us save hundreds of millions of dollars in capital." (Forbes)