Is your Equipment Fire Safety System a Risk to Your Throughput?
Most of us who are privileged to work in the semiconductor industry can appreciate the technological marvels that surround us on a regular basis. Those of us who have been around the semiconductor industry for a couple of decades or so can really appreciate how far we have come, so quickly. The average semiconductor cleanroom is the stuff of science fiction stories from not so long ago. A walk through a cutting-edge manufacturing operation, along the rows of astoundingly-complex process equipment, should humble us all at least a little. Perhaps only those tasked with the stewardship of these complex tools, those bold and brilliant souls responsible for the optimal functioning of these critical cogs of semiconductor device manufacturing output, can truly appreciate the mental duress of bearing this burden first hand. Don’t let your fire safety system be a threat to your process uptime!
We Salute You!
If you are one of the tool owners who keep the semiconductor world turning, the engineers, technicians, and operators, who make these magical mystery machines run, then we salute you. You know what it takes to get an optimal yield. You understand firsthand what it requires to get a process tool commissioned – and not just the assembly and configuration of the machine. The logistics of getting any semiconductor process tool to do what it is supposed to do, can be daunting to say the least. When at last, you have setup your equipment, fought the company politics, configured the mechanical components and software, banged your head and pinched your fingers, put in frustrating hours of overtime, and lay awake at night assessing what it will take to finally get where you need to be – now that your tool is performing, you want nothing, NOTHING to interfere with throughput.
Throughput is the Measuring Stick
Throughput is the lifeblood of semiconductor device manufacturing. Everything that everybody in a manufacturing operation does should be with a broader aim to keep the production lines rolling. Disruption to production is costly – in time, treasure, and torment. The keenest of eyes are upon the yield. Materials and consumables are carefully tended. Gauges and graphs are studied in earnest. The greatest efforts are taken to watch out for the safety of machines and the humans who interface with them, yet, when the gremlins strike, they strike with terrible treachery.
Fire is a Gremlin
Fire is one of the gremlins of semiconductor process equipment. Great thought and energy have been dedicated to the task of designing process tools that have the lowest probability for fire hazard. But, all of the elements for equipment fire are still rooted in the reality of incompatibles like heat, electricity, and flammable chemicals in ample quantities. Sure, there is a fantastic fire suppression infrastructure in modern facilities! Conscientious people do their best to ensure that if a process tool burns, it won’t burn down the fab. Semiconductor equipment fire safety people like KFPI design and maintain fire safety systems on process tools, to make sure a tool fire doesn’t reach the point that it sets off the facility fire suppression system. But even a small fire can cause huge damage.
No sane person wants a fab to burn down. Good people do their best to prevent it from happening. If proper tool fire safety protocols are followed, then the odds are good that the fire suppression system will prevent any significant damage from happening to the tool. So, then what’s left to worry about? We won’t lose the building or the tool. Nothing to worry about, right? Wrong.
Down Time is Drown Time.
The ultimate measure of semiconductor manufacturing success is the treasure produced as the fruit of our technological endeavors; the throughput of our process is the manufacturing lifeblood that must not be disrupted. In the event of even a brief fire that triggers a fire suppression system, the fire might be extinguished, but the process tool and possibly the process line goes down. A false discharge of a fire suppression system, a release of fire suppression agent when no fire hazard is present, is a most unfortunate occurrence, and an expensive one at that.
When a process line goes down, the financial pain is so agonizing that only the masters of bean-counting calculus can begin to articulate the magnitude. It is only at these excruciating times that we belatedly realize that we did not really save money by buying that cheap fire safety system, or having an amateur design and install this critical safety subsystem. Having the right fire safety system, designed specifically for the tool upon which it is to be used, installed correctly, and certified on a regular basis pays off big in the big picture.
The Right Tool for the Right Tool
There are a lot of different semiconductor process tools with a lot of different safety requirements. We know. We’ve designed fire safety solutions for them. When it comes to semiconductor equipment fire safety, one size does not fit all. Semiconductor wet clean tools, track tools, ALD, MOCVD, Stripper tools, plating tools, CMP, FRTP, BCDS, epitaxial reactors, and diffusion furnaces all pose different risks and require the right solution for each tool.
Place your Trust in KFPI
Over the years, KFPI has developed a keen understanding of semiconductor equipment & processes. We are specialists in hazard analysis & fire safety integration, and we design solutions based on reliability, performance, uptime, & longevity. We are experts in SEMI, FM, & NFPA compliance requirements, who design, install, and certify CO2 and FWS systems with global compliance and global support. All of our technicians are semiconductor professionals who are factory-trained on all equipment that we install. We don’t dabble at semiconductor fire safety solutions. We know exactly what we are doing.
Before you have any old schmo give it a go, please let us save you some grief. Don’t let the gremlins get you down!