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Semiconductor FAB Automation Capabilities Management: An Express Route to Volume Production

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TOM HOGEL & LES MARSHALL, TRW Inc., Austin, TX, USA

ABSTRACT

Traditional capital equipment procurement practices in the semiconductor industry usually rely upon suppliers to deliver what they have promised in their quotation, with “automation” needs naturally appearing way down the list in terms of priorities. Actual tool automation capabilities and limitations are not “discovered” until the Equipment Interface (E.I.) characterisation phase, when there is little or no leverage available to coerce tool suppliers into correcting automation deficiencies. The consequential effects of this standard procurement methodology are not only to delay such discovery, but to necessitate costly and time-consuming E.I. customisation effort, thereby further delaying the point at which full automation can be achieved. The use of “Automation Capabilities Management” or ACM techniques decreases variance in tool automation functionality, enabling earlier E.I. deployment and reduced E.I. life cycle costs together with a more rapid production ramp.
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