Intelligent logistics and operations planning software tools are being integrated into today’s IC wafer fabrication facilities (fabs). These tools are powerful enough to reprioritize wafer lots on a daily basis, and will soon allow customers to both re-plan and reprioritize their wafer allotment or capacity within a given fab from a “virtual” planning desktop.

In the past, most manufacturing systems have been built using an industrial-age model – with the most important objectives being the optimization of details surrounding the product’s actual manufacture.

The systems of the 21 st century, however, are being built for the information age – where the most important thing is finding out what the customer wants and simultaneously optimizing all aspects of the way the product is provided to them. This provides flexibility for customers in managing their own operations, their own customers and ultimately improving the overall time-to market for their products.

SEAMLESS INTEGRATION

These software tools and systems are meant to provide a seamless integration between fab operators’ systems and those of the customer – enabling data transfers to and from the customer to be made as a virtual extension of their own operations.

This new breed of advanced planning and scheduling tools simultaneously manages complex procurement, manufacturing and distribution operations involving large numbers of resources and operational steps.

INTELLIGENT AND FEASIBLE

This is being done in real-time, as well as solving common planning problems found in wafer fabs: complex product flows, optimizing machine setup times and sequences, and utilization planning of expensive or bottleneck resources. This is designed to produce an intelligent and feasible production plan, along with associated manufacturing and purchasing recommendations to make the plan a reality.

In the past several years, technological advances have enabled the deployment of these powerful planning and scheduling tools. The development of processing capabilities to run complex solution algorithms, huge memory storage capacities facilitated by falling memory prices, and improved network technology allowing the linking of multiple workstations with rapid data exchange and sharing, have provided unprecedented computing power and integration capability.

These new capabilities combine to create a compelling vision for integrated manufacturing systems:

    Continual and automatic updates of critical customer, supplier and internal enterprise information – such as new orders, changed orders, distribution issues, reductions and increases in manufacturing capacity, etc.Platform-independent exchange of information throughout and between enterprises through the Internet and corporate Intranets.”Big-Bang” manufacturing systems implementations will be replaced by the ability to selectively add various system functions, including advanced decision-support capabilities, even from multiple vendors.Proprietary interfaces and complex embedding will give way to industry-standard forms of data exchange among supply chain elements.Message brokering and Internet-enabling inter-operability (enabled by such technologies as CORBA, DCOM, etc.) will become the industry standards, further tightening the integration of disparate systems in the enterprise.

The integrated manufacturing planning and execution system architecture employed by Amkor Technology Inc’s. Wafer Fabrication Services, for example, is represented by a hierarchy of multiple supply chain and factory-level models running on a series of separate, networked servers in multiple locations. This is integrated with sophisticated shop floor control and manufacturing execution systems.

The modern manufacturing execution system considers current lot and equipment status when dispatching lots for processing. It also allows the operators to balance production lines based on current material and equipment status, improving both throughput and on-time shipments.

The system must provide complete visibility of the fab floor, including operation status, in-process queues and work-in-process levels. As production is completed, the system tracks inventory, labor and critical activity indicators such as yields and scrap levels.

CRITICAL INFORMATION

The system operates with the latest bus messaging technology, providing a standard interface for the distributed manufacturing applications on the bus. Because it supports real-time interfaces with automated equipment, critical information about production activity and equipment status is communicated quickly and efficiently.

While the manufacturing execution system (MES) in the fab provides the ultimate in wafer visibility and lot tracking capability, the production planning system hierarchy is structured to provide similar visibility to future orders, manufacturing capacity and real-time supply chain status.

At the uppermost level, the strategic planning layer aids in tactical decision-making (e.g., capacity allocation to competing business units, product families, etc.). The main integration links between the strategic planner and various operations planners for each business unit are achieved through capacity group allocations and demand forecasting.

The allocated capacity is used by the operations planner to satisfy the actual demand orders and/or forecast orders to best serve the business goals of each unit. Operations planning aids in optimizing business performance while maximizing order fulfillment.

Throughout the operations planning process, re-allocations of capacity will become necessary due to deviation of actual demand from the anticipated demand mix. The strategic planning level provides visibility to overall supply chain inter-relationships, and ensures that the requirements of each supply chain element are met in ways consistent with the organization’s established business rules.

As a result of the operations plans, allocated available to promise (AATP) assignments would be generated in the AATP servers – which are dedicated to a group of product lines and can take input from multiple operations planners.

AATP servers would quote orders in real-time – based on a capacity and material-feasible manufacturing plan – in order to improve order acceptance rate and help in improving due date performance. AATP engines would also help in responding in an optimal manner to the supply and demand fluctuations that are beyond human control.

Operations planners also make sourcing decisions from various wafer fabs and assembly and test sites. These requirements are then passed onto the individual factory planners running at individual manufacturing facilities. Factory planners would arrive at the local material and capacity-feasible plan and daily start plan for each critical resource. The factory planner would improve capacity utilization, reduce WIP, and ensure production is being scheduled and sequenced to meet all customer-specific order requirements.

Manufacturing execution system considers current lot and equipment status when dispatching lots for processing. It also allows the operators to balance production lines based on current material and equipment status, improving both throughput and on-time shipments.

The system provides complete visibility of the fab floor, including operation status, in-process queues and work-in-process levels. As production is completed, the system tracks inventory, labor and critical activity indicators such as yields and scrap levels.

MES operates with the latest message bus technology, providing a standard interface for the distributed manufacturing applications on the bus. Because it supports real-time interfaces with automated equipment, critical information about production activity and equipment status is communicated quickly and efficiently.

UP-TO-THE-MINUTE

Operations can also provide up-to-the-minute manufacturing costs and actual defect densities to finance. This information can be rolled into the forecasting models used to price the product for concurrency with competitive data, allowing customer pricing to be and remain competitive. Because the end result is always the same, low cost and time-to-market always wins.

(Article contributed by Michael Lazich, Deloitte & Touche Consulting Group and L.T. Guttadauro, director, sales development, Amkor Technology Inc., wafer fabrication services.)

Text box: In the past several years, technological advances have enabled the deployment of these powerful planning and scheduling tools.

Text box: This new breed of tools simultaneously manages complex procurement, manufacturing and distribution operations involving large numbers of resources and operational steps.

Text box: The systems of the 21 st century are being built for the information age – where the most important thing is finding out what the customer wants, and simultaneously optimizing all aspects of the way the product is provided to them.

Text box: Proprietary interfaces and complex embedding will give way to industry-standard forms of data exchange among supply chain elements.



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