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Is smart manufacturing at the tipping point?


Alan Ifould explores the key challenges facing the Smart SubFab

What is Smart Manufacturing?

Well to many people smart manufacturing is the use of data analytics and intelligent networking to deliver faster better more effective operations. Products need people to operate and there are processes needed to govern how they interact together. So perhaps better expressed, it’s how do you use data analytics intelligent networking to connect people products and processes. For that reason we think it’s more of a change management program than a simple technology deployment.

Why is the Smart SubFab so important to the Fab?

Vacuum and abatement is a critical part of semiconductor manufacturing, regardless of the device type or the process node, there are hundreds sometimes thousands of vacuum and abatement units in the SubFab, each one of those is a potential source of risk and uncertainty to the Clean Room. Usually in the form of unplanned downtime. So we believe that by applying those principles of smart manufacturing, connecting people products and processes together, we help our customers achieve their own smart manufacturing goals.

What are the key challenges for the Smart SubFab?

The SubFab is a complex and often challenging environment, safety is paramount because of the hazardous by products SubFab equipment handles, those by-products also present challenges to the equipment, and affect directly how vacuum and abatement products perform. Hence we see the main challenges creating a well-managed ecosystem of people products and processes, using data analytics and supported by expert domain knowledge. We think this holistic approach is the best way to manage and reduce risk and uncertainty in the SubFab. We call this approach operational excellence.

What does Operational Excellence look like in the SubFab?

Operational excellence is about enabling everything and everyone to realise their full potential, so alongside the use of data analytics and systems to share knowledge, we also employ core principles linked to Shingo and lean operation models. For example, we create zones where teams only manage and improve their own work areas, we use standard work and best known methods to create stability that not only improves effectiveness but improves the quality of the data that we collect.  We then train our teams to use problem solving techniques, alongside data analytics. If I was to summarize operational excellence is about collaborating with key stakeholders across the wider Fab.  It’s about interacting closely at all levels to understand the challenges and the priorities for reducing risk and uncertainty in the SubFab. That way together we can help create the environment for a successful Fab wide smart manufacturing program.

Alan Ifould profile pic

Alan Ifould

Global Market Sector Manager

Is smart manufacturing at the tipping point

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