Genmark, FANUC launch cleanroom robotics innovations

By Chris Anderson

SUNNYVALE, CA-In late July, Genmark Automation, a maker of automation tools for the semiconductor industry, launched EZTeach, an intelligent teach pendant based on the Pocket PC that should result in faster changes in robotic devices used in wafer fabs and thus shortened manufacturing downtime.

“This will allow technicians to store in the EZTeach memory application specific information for specific tools,” says Victor Sales, president and chief operating officer of Genmark. “That means that the technicians won't need to manually re-teach the robot for those tasks.”

When a robot needs either to be reprogrammed for a different task or replaced, the downtime can be as long as four to five hours under the old method of manually teaching the robot. With the EZTeach, he claims downtime will now be less than one hour.

Products such as Hewlett-Packard's (Palo Alto, CA) hp jornada Pocket PC allows you to control your robot.
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To accomplish this, Genmark plans to work with its customers to develop the specific automation routines. “We most likely will help our customers develop the software for the different routines they need for their specific process, though it is possible a company may choose to do this for themselves,” says Sales.

The EZTeach system is used for Genmark equipment, including load ports, pre-aligners, open cassettes and process chambers among others. In addition, the system is based on the iMac PDA to take advantage of the graphics capabilities of these devices.

Since most of the robots are used within minienvironments, Sales also says there will be contamination control benefits to the new teaching tool as well. “With manual training where the technician literally has to move the tool to teach it, the minienvironment is open and exposed to the environment for a much longer period of time, and that longer exposure could mean more contamination,” he says.

The company is currently developing the software to allow for Web connectivity, which should be available by the time the company shows the product at SEMICON Japan. Also in development is a camera interface that will allow for video feedback to the EZTeach of a robot's performance for use as a diagnostic tool.

Meanwhile, FANUC Robotics (Rochester Hills, MI) has introduced the M-6iB Cleanroom robot, the latest in a line of controlled environment products the company has offered since 1984.

The M-6iB Cleanroom robot has six degrees of freedom, and a cleanliness rating of ISO Class 5 or better. According to the company, it is an ideal material handling solution for a wide range of industries, including pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, hard disks, flat panel displays, clean injection molding and others where particle emissions and grease leakage must be tightly regulated.

The M-6iB can be used in applications such as part handling, machine load/unload, part and case packing, palletizing, dispensing and assembly. It features motion control for gentle part handling, high throughput with ± 0.08 mm repeatability, and can carry a full front opening unified pod (FOUP) of (25), 300 mm wafers.

“Because of the high construction costs and operating expenses associated with cleanrooms, robot compactness takes on an even greater significance,” says Joe Portelli, electronics industry manager for FANUC. “New motor technology allows the M-6iB to be much more compact than its predecessor.”


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