Automated software control systems can help improve wet bench operations but the software has to be flexible to meet the unique needs of a wet processing application. Software controls increase dosage accuracy, timing reliability and process safety but process parameters or even the process itself can change as regulations tighten, customer requirements change and suppliers differ. The ideal automated process station is custom built to exactly match the requirements of a particular process while retaining the software programming capability to respond to production line changes.
Modutek’s fully automated wafer fabrication equipment features touch screens with a graphical user interface (GUI). Operators can see the status of the manufacturing process and can start and stop steps if required. Because Modutek designs and programs its software in house, the company can respond to unique requirements at the software level and can add equipment to the GUI if the process changes.
Once the operator starts a process and the software program runs, the automated system has to output commands to the equipment on the production line. Modutek uses the SECS/GEM interface standard, which stands for SEMI Equipment Communications Standard/Generic Equipment Model.
SEMI is the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International organization that developed the standard and defines the communication forms and messaging underlying the interaction of the software and the semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Using a common standard lets Modutek integrate other equipment into its production line designs and easily make changes to the software.
Controllers convert the input commands from the operators to corresponding output commands in the correct sequence to control process variables and the motion of the robotics. The sequence of commands is programmed into controllers such as PLC (programmable logic controllers) units that activate a command chain when the right input command is given. PLCs have the advantage that the programmable chains are easily re-programmed to meet changed requirements or equipment changes on the production line.
Because they design their own automation systems, Modutek can integrate higher level controllers such as Omron machine automation controllers or controllers from specific manufacturers such as Allen Bradley. Special controllers are often needed for unique functionality or for integration with existing systems.
Flow Simulation Software
Modutek’s SolidWorks Simulation Professional and SolidWorks Flow Simulation software is designed and programmed by the company’s software engineers to calculate chemical dosages and track chemical usage. The software ensures that the process environment for a particular batch is always the same, producing reliable etch rates and consistent throughput. When the process changes, the software can calculate new parameters and can automatically supply the right amounts of chemicals.
Fully automated wafer fabrication equipment can benefit from vision sensing with cameras and other optical sensors. The detected images have to be processed to identify the characteristics required by the system. Vision sensing can help with measurement, wafer or die alignment, quality inspection, sorting and mounting. For example, a coating could be inspected for continuity or products could be sorted according to defined properties. Modutek can integrate vision sensing into its fully automated wet process stations and help make sure the required functions work as desired.
The automated system can be programmed to output process variables to data logs that allow tracking chemical use, product quality, output and similar variables. The software sends the required data over Ethernet to create reports that operators and management can use for evaluating production line performance.
Modutek Designs Advanced Software Controls for Custom Applications
In 2020, Modutek is marking their 40th year of operation as a semiconductor equipment manufacturer and wet processing equipment supplier. The company’s success is due to innovation and continuous improvement in equipment and software to benefit their expanding customer base. For any wafer processing equipment needs contact Modutek for a free consultation or quote.