Because semiconductor manufacturing with wet bench technology uses dangerous chemicals in many of the process steps, ergonomic design helps keep employees safe. Toxic and corrosive chemicals such as hydrochloric acid are used to clean, etch and strip silicon wafers in wet process stations. Ergonomics helps ensure that operators don’t have to strain or overextend themselves when carrying out their work.
A safe working environment means that safety measures such as interlocks and alarms are in place, the risk of fire and explosions are minimized, and access to hazardous areas is restricted. Adequate employee training is a key factor in handling dangerous chemicals safely. Wet bench design has to take into account ergonomic factors when creating operator interfaces and safety measures to ensure the risks inherent in wet process operation are reduced to a minimum.
Ergonomics and Safety Can Increase Productivity and Employee Satisfaction
When the design of wet process stations makes it easy for operators to run each process step, increased comfort and safety allows them to focus on the work instead of worrying about possible mishaps. Safety has to be built into the stations, with prominent signaling of hazardous conditions such as spills, the use of explosion-proof measures such as low power electric signals, and the avoidance of flammable materials.
The Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) Safety Guidelines detail some of the measures that are required for wet benches, including guidelines for many aspects of semiconductor manufacturing. For example, SEMI S2 is a standard on safety labeling, safety interlocks, emergency shut down, electrical design, and ventilation. The SEMI S8 standard gives safety guidelines for the ergonomics of operation, maintenance, and service. Experienced semiconductor equipment manufacturers follow these guidelines because they realize that it makes sense to provide operators with a safe workplace and ergonomically designed equipment.
Modutek Incorporates Ergonomics and Safety Guidelines Into Their Wet Bench Station Design
Both Modutek’s standard lines of wet process equipment and customized versions are designed and built to the SEMI guidelines. Ergonomic design measures include features that make it easy for operators to carry out their work. Safety guidelines are followed so that the operation with the dangerous chemicals used in the process remains safe. For each wet process station, the ergonomic and safety requirements are either met or exceeded.
For example, ergonomic design has wafer loading trays brought to the front of the wet bench, making it easy for operators to load the trays. The operator interface is mounted on a swing arm, allowing operators to move it into different positions so they can see it while monitoring the process. The same thinking carries over to maintenance and service, where designs also respect ergonomic guidelines.
Modutek pays special attention to the safe design aspects of wet benches. Stations dealing with flammable substances are certified as hazardous locations to Class 1 Division 1 or Division 2. Safety interlocks are paired with process monitoring, leak detection, and alarms for dangerous conditions. Electrical controls are designed with low levels of power too weak for possible sparks to set off an explosion. Wiring satisfies NFPA 70 and 79 and there is an emergency off mushroom button.
Depending on the process, additional safety measures can include auto-lids to seal off the chemicals, gaseous automatic fire suppression systems, and access controls to ensure that only qualified operators can run the process. PVC safety shields, N2 head case purging and a deionized water hand spray may also be used.
Based on their extensive experience with the safe operation of wet benches, Modutek implements such ergonomic and safety measures while maintaining excellent operational reliability and superior yields. The complete line of Modutek wet process equipment is designed and built to the highest safety standards while delivering top-level performance for customers.