Semiconductor plays a vital role in our daily life. Each and every electronic device that we use, is built based on semiconductor technology. Semiconductors are widely being used, right from a Bread toaster, to the most advanced home theatre system. Without semiconductors, many functions and characteristics of modern electronic devices do not exist.
The Semiconductor industry creates many of the critical components that make up the world’s Information Technology infrastructure, but has harnessed little of the power of today’s IT solutions, and their potential benefits for its own manufacturing and supply chain management processes. The intellectual power of the industry has been focused on creating and improving high-technology products and individual tool process technology, rather than considering the efficiency of manufacturing process.
Challenges in Current Manufacturing Industry
Most of the current semiconductor industries runs on Legacy software applications. MES being most complex, industries generally feel not to change/disturb the core manufacturing process that are is running in factories. They do fear that even a small change or alteration would affect the production line. Given these justifications on one end, industries should start thinking if they are really safe to continue this trend.
Major risk factors here would be,
1. Data Security
2. App/process malfunction
- Imagine if any individual piece of manufacturing equipment is down. It results in downtime for dependent/related equipment in the manufacturing chain. It causes a great cost burden. Inefficiencies of a single piece of critical “bottleneck” process equipment, can have a negative economic impact on an entire production line.
- Poor Power Management causing Leakages : -Imagine that half of a cell phone’s battery consumption is nothing more than waste, or that the battery could last twice as long (or could weigh half as much) if leakage didn’t exist.
With these challenges,
- Is the current manufacturing industry efficient as it is supposed to be?
- Is the current manufacturing industry productive as it is supposed to be?
The answer is “no”.
In order to improve, the industry has to identify new concepts and should definitely see a change in the traditional approach which they are currently used to.
What changes would semiconductor manufacturing Industry embrace in future? Based on various studies and references, I could predict few listed below that would really be useful, and will have minimal challenges in incorporating it. Of course, these would increase efficiency and productivity, which traditional manufacturing process could not achieve.
A next-generation e-diagnostic system is required that brings tool-status information together with tool-diagnostic experts, thus speeding up the process of helping distressed process equipment back on their feet. A tool- diagnostic expert will be able to access any key production or facilities equipment from outside the factory via Network. Access includes ability to remotely monitor, diagnose problems or faults, and configure/control the equipment to bring it into full productive state rapidly and within security, safety, and configuration management guidelines.
Moving from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance, will be enabled when the industry develops tool-failure algorithms based on long-term historical data analysis. E-diagnostics, will pay pave way to automate traditionally failure-prone and time-consuming problem reporting, and repair procedures. This would help to run the tool more efficiently, and will enable equipment suppliers to “sign up and deliver” an improved level of productivity from their tools. Transparency of tool operations is the key to improving performance.
Conventional 3D printing creates objects in horizontal layers, and these layers create weak points. If there is a force pushing in the opposite direction of the direction, these layers have been printed, such as up and through a part, it forces these layers apart.
Printing at various directions, named 5D printing, is said to make printed parts three to five times stronger, with 25 percent less material, than the same parts printed in the conventional three-axis fashion. The print plate moves as well as the printer head as it prints, so the printing path follows the shape of the part, rather than being printed in a straight layer. Semiconductor Industry could see that Robots start printing 5D parts, and use it for further analysis, thereby contributing to “Predictive Maintenance.”
- Mass customization
- New capabilities
- Lead Time & Speed
- Supply chain simplification
- Waste reduction
In semiconductor manufacturing, the volume of data generated on the fab floor has continued to expand exponentially, with each new node dimension. Leading tools have so many measuring instruments that each one routinely identifies and gathers over sensor inputs. In consequence, all information collected throughout the fab, including metrics for processes, products, and machine state—will quickly exceed terabytes of data. Fab on the other hand, also gathers extensive in-line, end-of-line inspection, and metrology data. If all these collected data can be combined, and if we apply advanced analytics to all these production data, it could improve many important manufacturing dimensions, including yield, throughput, equipment availability, and operating costs.
Today, traditional approach is followed for analyzing the data. How it goes is like with the collected data, what could be possibly derived out of it, is analyzed and then decisions are made.
Key to success by applying advanced analytics is to reverse this process. Yes, it is to make crystal clear decisions at first place, and then work on how achieve it.
Robots bring productivity, cost-efficiency and often greater safety to repetitive task performance. Robots continue to evolve, offering greater functionality, flexibility, range of motion, speed and precision. Besides functioning in protected spaces on assembly lines, robots increasingly operate side- by- side, and interact with human beings;, and in some cases move materials from place to place.
For robots to operate in these ever-more-complex ways, they must be able to process a great deal of sensing data about the environment, communicate with each other and with centralized control units, and perform control functions that adapt to environmental changes and keep them from harming human beings.
The use of robotics is already present in manufacturing environments, but today’s robots are typically expensive, singularly purposed, challenging to reprogram, and require isolation from humans for safety.
Robotics are increasingly necessary to achieve the level of precision required for defense and other industrial manufacturing needs, but the capital cost and complexity of use, often limits small to mid-size manufacturers from utilizing the technology.
As days goes by, we could expect great scale of change in Robots used in Industries. Industries would start using advanced Robots in each and every field, which is today operated by human, thereby enabling a robust manufacturing environment.
How nice it would be if Robots can be used for multipurpose in Industry?
How nice if it would can interact with each other and then process?
Semiconductor industry is sure to benefit by the “Digitalization” of manufacturing and IoT explosion is an important component of it. Seamless digitalization of all processes forms the basis for automated production. Naturally, this also requires appropriate technologies, production processes and operational and organizational structures. “Powerful network infrastructures and the resulting connectivity, are a precondition for and catalysts of the digital transformation. Companies have to question their business models, and adapt their processes to the digital change. The in-house analysis of digital performance allows the targeted development of growth, opportunities and process adjustments. A digital ecosystem is a core for modern manufacturing processes.
Cyber-physical systems (CPS)
The term cyber-physical systems (CPS) describes the networking of individual embedded software systems, which collect and pass on specific data. A paradigm shift from “centralised” to “local” production thus takes place: A central computer provides for the intelligent networking, while taking into consideration physical factors – such as inputting requirements through human-machine interfaces – and allowing independent process management. The close interaction between the physical and virtual worlds here represents a fundamentally new aspect of the production process. When this is related to production, we talk of Cyber-Physical Production Systems (CPPS). This concept of Cyber Physical Systems deals with self-driven cars, autonomous unmanned vehicles and aircraft navigation systems.
Top Focus Areas for Advancement
Though semiconductor usage is widely spread, and has its usage in almost every sectors, few identified top areas, where we could witness a drastic change in near future could be in -,
- Wearable devices such as fitness accessories
- Smart-home applications like automated lighting and heating
- Medical electronics
- Industrial automation, including tasks like remote servicing and predictive maintenance
- Driverless automated cars
- Smart cities, with applications to assist with traffic control and other tasks within the public sector
With all these limited concepts discussed above, there is no doubt that modern manufacturing or Smart manufacturing will start to rule this world. Of Course, the number of electronic devices that we use in a day, will get doubled in near future.
While the industry boosts up on productivity, still it could face some challenges in data security, lack of consistent standards,etc. However, these can still be addressed, and this should not hamper the modernization of Semiconductor Manufacturing Industry.