Smooth operation

by Cynthia L. Fuguet-Mare

When Beverly, MA-based Eaton Semiconductor Operations, Industrial Design Corp. and Hodess Building Co. sat down in March of 1998 to create the blueprints for Eaton's cleanroom manufacturing space expansion, one of the primary objectives was to incorporate flexibly configured integration and test bays into the design.

“Eaton manufactures a line of ion implanters at its headquarters. Each model has a distinct footprint, design and highly specific utility requirements. Most customers require customized tool features, and European and Asian sites typically require tools with 50-Hz power capability,” says Chuck Pappalardo, director of facilities. “Every implanter, therefore, must be built to meet customer specs. For capacity scheduling in this type of production environment, building versatility into our facility was key.”

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The result enabled Eaton to reduce cycle time and further enhance its “ship from cell” manufacturing concept. Ship from cell production is based on the concept that machine modules can be built and tested efficiently within the same production bay, eliminating rework and task duplication. The flexibility of the bay design allows specially configured and “standard” machines to be built in any available bay, and eliminates the restrictions of designating one build area as the “specials” assembly and test area.

A portion of this expansion included renovating Eaton's existing manufacturing space. “Communication during the design effort was critical to ensure a smooth transfer between existing and new manufacturing space, without interruptions to the existing business and manufacturing process,” says Art Deist, project manager. “Constantly involving key Eaton manufacturing and facilities staff and Hodess's construction manager ensured we were all focused on the same goals, and reduced surprises during construction.”

Another challenge was to bring the construction to completion without major interruptions to the existing business and ongoing manufacturing. The semiconductor market, after a worldwide slump in 1998, was recovering rapidly. Demand for capital equipment was increasing, and Eaton needed to be able to respond to the need for additional capacity and productivity. “Customers in all regions were looking for their tools to be fabricated, integrated and tested in a very clean environment; one which essentially emulates the fabs the equipment will ultimately reside in,” Pappalardo adds. Creating this high tech environment with 12 months' build time required aggressive scheduling and tight project management.

Contamination control

Ion implantation processes require exceedingly stringent contamination control. Any machine used in the production flow therefore must attempt to be contamination-free before, during and after silicon wafers go through the implanter. Even the smallest foreign particles can render the chips from each wafer useless, and therefore drastically affect overall manufacturing yield; performance reliability and machine uptime are critical. Along with ISO 9000 registration, being able to demonstrate to a customer that a machine is built free of defects is a competitive requisite. “What we wanted to do with this project was equip our plant with the kind of innovative systems that would enable us to exceed customer expectations. Eaton implanters are used to manufacture state-of-the-art ICs. Our machines should be built in our plant with equally advanced production methods,” comments Pappalardo.

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Therefore, addressed at the design stage was the need for highly effective, energy-efficient particle control. Maintaining low operating costs and achieving defect elimination in the finished product were critical goals. The solution was to build Eaton's cleanroom space with a performance-based direct digital control (DDC) system, to constantly monitor the particle levels in each “classed” space. Based on frequent measurements, the DDC system adjusts the re-circulation air handlers, increasing or decreasing their speed. This maintains cleanroom classifications and uses a minimum amount of (re-circulated) air passed through HEPA filters, which significantly reduces operating costs for the facility. Emergency generators provide backup support for exhaust ventilation, lighting and hazardous gas monitoring systems, essential for protecting employees.

While cleanroom protocols preserve contamination-free manufacturing processes, the global chip manufacturers who invest in Eaton's machines need to know their capital equipment dollars have been spent on production-worthy tools. Maintaining quality throughout the production cycle ends with a trip through the ISO Class 6 (Class 1,000) “wipe/wrap” area. In this area, each implanter is “super-cleaned” using particle-free wipes and a central vacuum system. “Air pallet systems are used to maneuver the tools through the cleaning process. This is essential as our 300mm modules weigh over 12,000 pounds,” Pappalardo says. Once the tools are cleaned they are sealed with three layers of plastic wrap.

Project completion

Engineering and construction efforts wrapped up in November of 1999, when Eaton dedicated its clean manufacturing expansion (an additional 80,000 square feet) at company headquarters. The building incorporates industry-leading concepts in contamination-free production, and is constructed to maximize efficiency and productivity. “The success in the construction of this facility was a real team effort,” says Blake Hodess, president of Hodess Building Co. (North Attleboro, MA). “Eaton truly allowed us to use our expertise in quality, schedule, cost and safety control to add value to their program. This was a strong lesson in what teamwork can really mean to a project.”

The $12.3 million expansion provides ISO Class 7 (Class 10,000) and ISO Class 6 (Class 1,000) manufacturing areas, and brings the facility infrastructure to 263,000 square feet. Current capacity for the plant is approximately 140 implanters per year. Scheduled for February completion is an additional initiative that will provide 4,000 square feet of ISO Class 7 (Class 10,000) cleanroom for Eaton's thermal processing product line. This equipment, also used in semiconductor manufacturing processes, is currently built, tested and shipped from a Peabody, MA, facility.

Cynthia L. Fuguet-Mare is manager of marketing communications at Eaton Seminonductor Operations, a division of Eaton Corp., in Beverly, MA.


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