The most Powerful, Efficient, and Smart Scheduling System for Industry 4.0 Factories
Tune the output of your factory with Scheduling to optimize: line linearity, turns, cycle time, equipment throughput and utilization, labor productivity and on time delivery.
See the Right Information - Create the Right Schedule - Make the Right Moves
Smart Scheduling for Smart Factories
The INFICON Factory Scheduler is built on over 20 years of manufacturing and operations experience building optimized and robust WIP schedulers for all areas of the factory.
The Factory Scheduler utilizes Advanced Heuristics, Linear Programming, Optimization, and Intelligent Search Algorithms to generate a real-time optimized schedule that can be easily tuned to meet your manufacturing needs.
INFICON schedules more than 2,000,000 substrates per day in semiconductor factories AROUND the world.
Scheduling is NOT Dispatch
Dispatch rules have worked well. When maintained by skilled programmers and operators, they provide impressive efficiency. They are generally fast to execute, comprehend local priorities, and provide more consistent behavior than purely manual decisions. However, their drawbacks are considerable:
- Dispatch rules do not forecast results. If I run this lot now, will it be able to finish its queue timer 6 steps from now?
- Each local step must have its own logic, which can be out of sync or in conflict with upstream or downstream rules
- Rules are difficult to quickly adjust to changing needs
- Global business goals are difficult to formulate in the language of local dispatch rules
- Rules typically only consider lots at station, and not those arriving soon or downstream
- The results of changing dispatch rules are very hard or impossible to test in advance
- Look ahead. A scheduler will stop a lot if a queue timer will expire
- See the whole line. Factors like line balance, down toolsets, WIP holding are comprehended
- Incorporate setup changes, reticle switches, movement penalties, etc.
- Comprehend upcoming maintenance events
- Provide true balancing of local and global priorities
- Facilitate centralized business logic, and give Fab managers the controls
- Allow changes to be tested hypothetically, without affecting production
- Open up smart manufacturing integration opportunities - A system that "knows" where WIP will be creates opportunities for managing pumps, abatement units, etc.
Facility and Area Scheduling
For small fabs, a single Area Scheduler can be powerful enough to schedule all the WIP in the facility.
For most high volume fabs, INFICON will install a group of several Area Schedulers working together. Area Schedulers feature modular logic to accommodate the specific complexities of the area being scheduled - Lithography, Diffusion, Implant, etc. They also talk to each other to produce behavior requiring multi-area and global priorities.
The end result is that you are able to see where any lot will process, based on real time tool status, recipe qualifications, and lot status, over the next 12 hours.
The Scheduler Gantt Chart shows when and where lots will run, but equally importantly, it shows how the decision was made.
The UI will display the reasons that led to the placement of the lot on the schedule, broken down by the importance of each priority. If you disagree with the Scheduler's decision, you can see how to adjust priorities in order to change it.
Intuitive Controls, Easy Testing
Scheduling priorities are set with a simple UI with clear explanations, The UI includes a full sandbox to test the effects of changing priorities. Compare this to the problem of quantifying the effects of changing dispatch rules. It has truly never been this easy.
Not Just a Replacement, But Something New
INFICON Schedulers open up entirely new factory capabilities. Consider an example of a tool with an expensive abatement system that Fab managers have targeted for cost reduction. The system has a warm down mode which reduces the cost of operation by 95%, but that is only used during tool PMs. The FPS Factory Scheduler can schedule around the tool when possible and with the right system integration can automatically trigger the abatement warm down when the tool is not needed. Like turning off the lights when leaving a room - big, expensive, environmentally unfriendly lights.
Bottom line: the opportunities created by the FPS Factory Scheduler showcases the next generation of factory technology.
When was the last time you had a strong lever for line balance? Or a quick way to stop a WIP bubble from forming due to an unexpected bottleneck tool downtime? Or an easy way to run your tool that requires a particular pattern of lots?
We have seen impressive achievements with variations on dispatch logic, and there is no question that full factory scheduling is a difficult problem requiring a lot of hard work. However, this is all the more reason to choose the right tool to invest the time in.
SMART Back-End Scheduling
WIP management and scheduling for semiconductor Back-End operations is becoming increasingly important. Line linearity, increased throughput and utilization, and accurately meeting ship targets is as important in the Back-End as it is in the Front-End.
Smart scheduling techniques developed for complex Front-End environments can be applied to the more linear operations in Assembly, Package, and Test facilities and achieve the same results.
The FPS Back-End Factory Scheduler uses advanced algorithms leveraging practical constraints and real time information to make a schedule based on current conditions and priorities.
The schedule updates every few minutes and generates the full end-to-end schedule for the entire facility. This guarantees continuously relevant results amidst the dynamic conditions of the back-end facility.
Substrates entering a back-end factory could complete all process steps in 7 – 10 days. This allows INFICON to modify the front-end scheduler to account for the entire back-end process flow.
The end result is that you are able to see where any lot will process, based on real time tool status, recipe qualifications, and lot status, through the entire back-end flow.