Ergonomics – Human Factors and Challenges of Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment

Macklin, Ron
(Applied Materials, Inc. Austin, Texas)

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With 300mm technology now more than a decade old, and 450mm or larger wafers on the horizon, it seems prudent to consider where we have been and what lies ahead. Considering the reality of larger equipment while balancing other key differentiators such as throughput, footprint, and uptime, one needs to keep in mind that one of the single largest decision factors is still Cost of Ownership (CoO). System size (footprint) and placement (density) can have a significant impact on ergonomics and the ability to address fault and maintenance activity without adversely affecting system uptime and productivity, which can have a large affect on the end users’ cost. Equipment designer rely on specific space allocations to support maintenance and service activity, when this is ignored or violated, it can have negative impacts on ergonomics resulting in longer maintenance times reducing efficiency. Industry data seems to indicate that when it comes to ergonomics, the equipment designer continues to face challenges that affect their ability to meet the goals and desires of the marketplace. Guidelines such as SEMI S2 and SEMI S8 have been in force for more than a decade now. However, our industry continues to experience injuries attributed to ergonomics at a high rate (greater than 60%), based upon data compiled from the SEMI Benchmark Program, of which, it’s focus is on the US equipment manufacturer. This paper will review the available data and causation of ergonomic injuries; exploring why the types of injuries (overexertion) are occurring and how the equipment designer may go about addressing challenges associated with the interactions of humans to the equipment they are servicing. Addressing the question of whether the designer’s toolbox is keeping pace with the industry’s quest for expansion and productivity. A detailed example will be discussed which, will show how the use of two ergonomic engineering tools, JACK, and University of Michigan 3D Static Strength Prediction Program (3DSSPP) were employed in developing criteria for manually raising and lowering process chamber lids. Task activities such as opening or closing a chamber lid do not fit traditional models of a lift, or push/pull, but consist of a combination of these more traditional tasks. Evaluation of such activities become difficult and most Third Parties do not have the ability to model or evaluate these types of tasks with consistency. Additional examples and discussion areas include, using historical data when considering maintenance, serviceability; material handling challenges, that affect the equipment manufacturer’s ability to design equipment in a safe, cost effective, and efficient manner. Discussions will include challenges, successes, as well as unresolved issues.

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