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The Road to Full Auto in Semiconductor Assembly Test Manufacturing – SmartFactory Roadmap (Part 2 of 3)

Roadmap to achieve full automation in semiconductor backend manufacturing.
Where is your manufacturing facility on its journey to full automation? In this video series (part 2 of 3), you will learn the role of full auto in semiconductor backend assembly test and explore the roadmap, taking you through the phases of how to use SmartFactory solutions to achieve full automation.


Welcome to the second video in our series on Full Auto and semiconductor assembly test. In this video, we will define Full Auto and show its role in addressing manufacturing challenges. First, a brief look at industrial advances through history.

As we look back all the way to industry 1.0, the common theme has always been usage of modern technologies to increase factory productivity. With industry 4.0, the trend continues as we see productivity advancing with the industrial internet of things, advanced analytics, and machine learning. Certainly, industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing can mean different things to different people.

It can mean self-organized manufacturing, automated material handling, industrial computing, planning, scheduling, dispatching, quality management, end-to-end supply chain management. Smart manufacturing is all of the above with automated decision making, automated execution, and automated material handling. But what do we mean when we say Full Auto? We define Full Auto as the ability to route, deliver, and process material without human intervention.

Full auto is achieved by the use in integration of a Computer-Integrated Manufacturing or CIM system and hardware systems. And we have three main goals in Full Auto manufacturing. Automated decision making, automated execution, and automated material handling.

Let’s take a deeper look at each of these goals. First, automated decision making. Here we see the Applied SmartFactory CIM solutions and where they fit into the manufacturing ecosystem.

Each of these puzzle pieces enables or provides some amounts of automated decision making. For example, in the factory productivity area, the scheduling and dispatching modules use data from the MES and other sources to determine an optimal schedule for processing what lots on what tools and exactly when. Our maintenance management solution can determine when a tool is coming due or is overdue for maintenance and automatically take appropriate actions like notifying the tool engineers and moving the tool to a scheduled downstate.

In process quality, the SPC module will automatically trigger appropriate corrective actions when data is collected out of configured control limits. Our Run-to-Run solution will automatically optimize tool recipe parameters to improve CPK and reduce scrap. Next, automated execution.

This can be achieved with the Applied SmartFactory Full Auto solution. SmartFactory Full Auto is an automated execution system that improves factory productivity and eliminates white space by executing advanced real-time event-based factory automation workflows. These workflows can be customized per factory specifications, consider multiple criteria, and handle many exception scenarios.

SmartFactory Full Auto improves factory productivity by lowering cycle time and reducing variability as well as reduces the number of expert operators needed. This means a more profitable factory. Finally, the goal of automated material handling.

Admittedly, this goal is more straightforward for 300 millimeter fabs wherein we have essentially one form factor, a wafer, and the benefit of standardized FOSBs and FOUPs to handle those wafers and overhead transports to move those standardized carriers between tools and storage locations. In assembly test, we have a lot more complexity as the work in process form factors and their physical carriers change many times between the original input, a wafer, to a roll of packaged ICs or a final packaged module. In the top left, we see the various physical carriers used in semiconductor wafer fabs and to the right many examples of material handling used in assembly test.

This variety of unstandardized carriers presents a significant challenge for automated material handling, but it is a problem worth solving, especially in high volume facilities considering the potential return on investment factors, increased output, reduction in cost, increased yield, and more. In our next video, we will discuss more about mitigating this challenge. Let’s get into a stepwise approach to achieving Full Auto.

What you will see over the next couple of slides is a gradual migration from a fully manual process in blue with manual decision making and manual transport to Semi Auto in yellow to a Full Auto process in green with automated decisions and automated transport.

At first, you may just have an MES but running in manual mode. Even in manual operation, getting away from paper and using an MES provides its own benefits.

Next, your organization aligns on a vision and plan towards Full Auto.

Third, it is common to then implement our solutions for maintenance management, durables management, and recipe management. These solutions, of course, provide their own value and lay the foundation to take advantage of automation in the future.

At step four, we see SmartFactory equipment automation. With this in place, we can automate data collection and basic operator functions like recipe select, track in, and track out.

Next, we see some additions for carrier traceability such as SmartFactory material control as well as adding carrier storage and RFID tags to carriers and equipment, which of course allows additional automation capabilities.

At step six, we see SmartFactory Dispatching. Using data from the MES and other systems, it decides what next and where next, taking the guesswork out of maximizing productivity. Moving on to the final steps towards Full Auto.

At step seven, we implement solutions for advanced process control including SPC, Fault Detection, and Run-to-Run. Adding to our earlier comments about the value of SPC and Run-to-Run, the fault detection module will provide rapid response to equipment issues before they affect process quality.

Next, at step eight, we see implementation of SmartFactory Full Auto, which we covered a couple minutes ago in our goal of automated execution.

In step nine, management sees the full ROI potential of Full Auto in part by using SmartFactory simulation.

Next, on steps 10 and 11, we see some equipment infrastructure changes to pave the way for implementing automated material handling systems like overhead transports and automated guided vehicles. Again, here we have a roadblock in assembly test due to unstandardized material handling.

We will discuss this roadblock further in our next video. At step 11, we have achieved lights out Full Auto manufacturing and our three main goals, automated decision making, automated execution, and finally automated material handling. Of course, there is always room for improvement, so in the last step, we call out continuous improvement.

Join us in our next and final video of the series, where we will discuss the roadblocks to achieving Full Auto and strategies to mitigate them. Thanks for tuning in.

About the Author

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Joe Napiah
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