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The importance of process control in the Semiconductor industry

The Semiconductor industry as we know it today is complex, multi-faceted, and constantly evolving. For those who manufacture semiconductor production equipment, having complete control of each assembly station is critical to guarantee an efficient and error-proofed manufacturing process.

To learn more about semiconductor manufacturing, view a Webinar and Expert Live Q&A recording on-demand titled How a good tightening strategy can help decrease defects in semiconductor manufacturing.

In a similar scenario, performing preventive maintenance on these same machines requires reliable process control to make sure that each and every step of the maintenance procedure is performed.

Due to the extensive and sometimes extremely complex process, manufacturing Semicon equipment is still performed manually through the assistance of multiple operators. Building this equipment can take any time between 2-8 weeks. During this period, it is not uncommon to see an army of operators working on and off, three shifts a day, six days a week in order to catch up with the constantly increasing demand for Semicon equipment.

 Think about all those operators and the importance to have a robust solution to guarantee that each and every task is performed according to the instructions. Full process control is critical and nearly mandatory for quality purposes. This article will explain a quick overview of how Atlas Copco can provide this process control through the use of our Industry 4.0 solutions.

semiconductors campaign

Producing semiconductor equipment

It’s not a surprise that in the last few months an increased demand for chips utilized on smart phones, medical devices, vehicles, military systems, and more has led to a global supply shortage that has affected every single industry. Several Semicon equipment manufacturers have been struggling to keep up the pace of the increasingly exponential global demand for semiconductors. 

Additionally, the production of semiconductor equipment is mostly performed by humans which does not necessarily make these processes the most efficient ones, or do they? Let’s break this down.  

Lack of process control systems could create a high risk for human errors like missing screws, applying the wrong torque to a specific bolt, skipping (voluntarily or involuntarily) assembly steps, performing an assembly process not following an established tightening sequence, and more. 

How can one avoid all these events? How can one help the operators with all these tasks that could be very complicated? This is where the implementation of a wide variety of systems that provide process control, such as Atlas Copco’s Industrial Location Guidance (ILG) tool positioning arm or Scalable Quality Solution (SQS) software, can provide an increase in quality and process consistency to your plant.

Assembly process with bolt location guidance and error proofing via Industrial PC

ILG is Atlas Copco’s integrated error-proofing system that ensures process security for applications ranging from simple to complex. As a stand-alone system or in conjunction with an articulated arm, ILG tracks the location of the tool being used relative to the fastening position, guaranteeing that the correct fasteners are tightened to specification in the proper sequence. Error-proofing alongside process control has never been so simple!

Industrial Location Guidance ILG

Servicing semiconductor equipment

Let’s talk about another crucial aspect of the Semicon Manufacturing process: Performing the preventive maintenance (PM) to the Semicon equipment. For every industry, but especially for those in the semiconductor industry, the failure or unexpected downtime of one semiconductor equipment can wreak havoc on the productivity of the entire line, impacting operational costs, affecting the competitiveness in the market, and of course, affecting a company’s reputation.

The implementation of a software solution like SQS can protect your plant from these potential issues. SQS drives quality, process reliability, and transparency. For a single station, individual work cells, or a full assembly line, SQS is ideal for complex assembly processes with high product variance due to its advanced part verification and tool interlocking capabilities. With this process control software, you can keep track of the status of your equipment, collect invaluable data to achieve full transparency and recognize trends, and take control of the entire semiconductor equipment assembly process.

Process control with Scalable Quality Solution, MicroTorque and Assembly Control Node 2

To learn more about semiconductor manufacturing, view a Webinar and Expert Live Q&A recording on-demand titled How a good tightening strategy can help decrease defects in semiconductor manufacturing.