PREP WITH PURPOSE: Surface Prep Tools and Wet Benches from Kinetics

Make three decisions, see the results

Kinetics has become a fixture in wafer fab facilities around the world. From R&D-scale benches to HVM settings, the ability to efficiently clean, prep, and process substrates and packages continues to be documented by discerning manufacturers. With this depth and breadth of experience, Kinetics has observed three key decision points that dramatically affect production outcomes.

Whether upgrading a facility or engineering with a blank slate on a greenfield site, there’s no reason to finalize process, system and workstation specifications without considering the consequences—those well beyond lead time, budget and operational implications.

DECISION POINT #1: WHAT IS THE DESIRED MIX BETWEEN VOLUME AND DOCUMENTED QUALITY?

The “have it both ways” argument only serves to deflect from the mission-critical nature of this decision point. Clearly, some fab requirements are dictated by the size and nature of the substrates; others by the fragility of materials, or the tenuous stability (or variability) of the chemistries required.

Kinetics has counseled manufacturers that had manual, low-volume surface prep tool and bench budgets—but high-volume expectations—on how to strike a workable balance. That’s simply because some workstations aren’t designed to be upgraded, automated or take on more volatile or dangerous compounds while maintaining the integrity of human, environmental and facility safety standards.

DECISION POINT #2: HOW IS THE PROCESS—OR PRODUCT—PROJECTED TO CHANGE OVER TIME?

Kinetics centers the engineering and fabrication of surface prep tools and benches on uptime availability. Any movement of materials, device mechanics including flow and ventilation controls, along with operator intervention, is part of the calculus of system selection. That’s because some products are intrinsically less agile than others.

Far from requiring a crystal ball to make selection decisions, Kinetics’ view is that some elasticity is a positive factor in a tool or bench. But the expectation of more than slight variances in materials, process and output is normally unrealistic. With manageable breakeven points and production reliability, the useful life cycle of a system doesn’t need to be protracted to make it realistic to change it out for a new tool or bench in a period of years (rather than decades).

DECISION POINT #3: WHAT LEVEL OF OPERATOR COMPETENCY AND CONSISTENCY IS INTRINSIC TO THE REQUIRED OUTCOMES?

From Kinetics’ extended experience, this is a topic that needs to be addressed head-on. The cost of skilled labor—much less training, along with initial hiring expenses—is not inconsequential. Having tools and benches attached to shift-to-shift performance analytics is one characteristic that’s common among leading manufacturers.

The same consideration is attached to the acumen and availability of maintenance personnel. In settings where the labor pool supports less supervision, the tools and benches selected can reflect it. By extension, unproven or less stable production teams may warrant a greater investment in automation.

Kinetics is best suited to manufacturers that want to build a sense of flow into their production, where the obstacles to predictable output are eliminated. Much of the ability to accomplish this comes from an accurate assessment of what is not only possible, but what is most probable. To learn more about these decision points, and meet the Kinetics team, click HERE.