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Automation of semiconductor manufacturing is no longer an option: technological and competitive pressures have made it a necessity. Increasing wafer sizes, the need for reduced particle contamination, increasingly complex process technologies, high capital equipment costs, and continuously declining selling prices are all major challenges for manufacturers. Devices must be produced not only with greater precision and higher quality, but with ongoing unit cost reductions as well. Automation appears to be the top candidate to help meet these challenges.
Automation, however, is not a magic wand. If not approached and managed carefully, it may become a very costly and disruptive exercise, instead of the beneficial one expected.
This paper covers some of the general problems and pitfalls of automation and highlights possible approaches to successful and cost effective solutions. The external and internal factors that determine the level of success also are discussed.
Finally, the recommended approach to automation and the responsibility for implementation will be described.
CIM (Computer Integrated Manufacturing), automation, global environment, Distributed system architecture, Dedicated processing, Distributed software functions, system integration
President and CEO, Qronos Technology, Inc., Cupertino, CA