Control-friendly scheduling algorithms for multi-tool, multi-product manufacturing systems




Bregenzer, Brent Constant

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The fabrication of semiconductor devices is a highly competitive and capital intensive industry. Due to the high costs of building wafer fabrication facilities (fabs), it is expected that products should be made efficiently with respect to both time and material, and that expensive unit operations (tools) should be utilized as much as possible. The process flow is characterized by frequent machine failures, drifting tool states, parallel processing, and reentrant flows. In addition, the competitive nature of the industry requires products to be made quickly and within tight tolerances. All of these factors conspire to make both the scheduling of product flow through the system and the control of product quality metrics extremely difficult. Up to now, much research has been done on the two problems separately, but until recently, interactions between the two systems, which can sometimes be detrimental to one another, have mostly been ignored. The research contained here seeks to tackle the scheduling problem by utilizing objectives based on control system parameters in order that the two systems might behave in a more beneficial manner. A non-threaded control system is used that models the multi-tool, multi-product process in a state space form, and estimates the states using a Kalman filter. Additionally, the process flow is modeled by a discrete event simulation. The two systems are then merged to give a representation of the overall system. Two control system matrices, the estimate error covariance matrix from the Kalman filter and a square form of the system observability matrix called the information matrix, are used to generate several control-based scheduling algorithms. These methods are then tested against more tradition approaches from the scheduling literature to determine their effectiveness on both the basis of how well they maintain the outputs near their targets and how well they minimize the cycle time of the products in the system. The two metrics are viewed simultaneously through use of Pareto plots and merits of the various scheduling methods are judged on the basis of Pareto optimality for several test cases.



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