Orla McCoy

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Environmental and Operational Sustainability in Facility 2.0: UPM Community Event Recap

A summary of insights provided by panelists Aaron Blawn, Intel; John Painter, Georg Fischer; Andreas Neuber, Applied Materials and Joshua Best, FTD Solutions. Moderated by Slava Libman, FTD Solutions

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View the event recording here.

Environmental and Operational Sustainability was the fourth in a series of UPM Community Events deconstructing the challenges of Facility 2.0 – a term describing the culmination of several unparalleled transformations affecting the microelectronics industry. This includes time-to-market and supply chain pressures, the magnitude of new construction; the expertise shortage, step function higher device and process complexity, and new environmental sustainability commitments.

Unprecedented demand for semiconductor products is compelling the construction of larger, more complex facilities which consume increasing quantities of energy and water. The panelists of this webinar explored the sustainability of operations within three primary brackets:
1. Construction and expanding capacity
2. Facility reliability and performance at greater production capacity
3. Facility environmental footprint, including energy and water consumption.
Construction The microelectronics industry must expand capacity to meet increased chip demand, but faces a challenge to do so rapidly and cost-effectively due to supply chain bottlenecks, material scarcity and expertise shortages. John Painter, Director of Business Development/Construction Specialized Solutions at Georg Fischer Piping Systems reveals several potential problems: 

  • Long-standing procurement practices must be adjusted: Project schedules must incorporate material lead times and be adjusted to reflect true project delivery time. Companies will increasingly rely on strategic alliances in the supply chain.
  • There is a risk to facility start up time: Introducing new construction companies may pose a risk as they are less familiar with the complex specifications of semiconductor fabs. Problems with the construction phase can cause start-up delays.
  • There is a risk to future expansion capabilities: Supply chain constraints may cause the number of fab construction and expansion projects to peak.

Off-site manufacturing (OSM) can address some of these constraints. OSM aggregates systems which can be sold as a whole to the end-user to avoid the number of parts sourced by chip manufacturers. In addition, OSM can reduce waste, transport costs and emissions, improve safety in components manufacturing, require less labor and produce better overall system quality. Operational challenges Reliability is critical in any fab, but even more so at highly complex mega-campuses containing multiple connected factories. Failure in one fab can cause disruption across the entire campus. In addition, each campus fab may produce chips at different nodes or be in a different stage in the fab lifecycle, meaning they face vastly different operational issues. Failures are most likely to occur in the start-up phase or ageing facilities. Aaron Blawn, Corporate Services Site Manager at Intel, addressed some of the operational considerations key to ensuring facility reliability: 

  • The impact of failure is high: Failure Modes and Effect Analysis (FMEA) is now more critical than ever, but it is also important to consider single points of failure which could cause downtime across entire fab complexes. The sheer potential impact of a failure necessitates proactive monitoring of component reliability, even if failures are not reflected in historical data.
  • Managing reliability: Reliability must be managed from the design phase to prevent problems as facilities age. In addition, reliability is crucial when engaging with suppliers new to the industry which might not understand the standards for advanced node semiconductor fabs.
  • Complexity begets complexity: The onset of advanced nodes and demand for new devices are together accelerating process and facility complexity. The industry must consider how to minimize unintended consequences for factory operations caused by such innovation.

Environmental sustainability The enormity of new fabs in conjunction with increasing process complexity means fabs consume more water and energy. At the same time, sustainability targets and some regional regulations have elevated efforts to reduce this consumption. Challenges also lie in the fact that reducing consumption or emissions of some resources may cause an expanded environmental footprint elsewhere, making it difficult to balance different sustainability goals. Andreas Neuber, Director Environmental Services at Applied Materials, explained the importance of certain capabilities at fabs, including measuring energy consumption with enough granularity to make data-driven decisions; understanding future energy requirements and offsetting consumption increases with energy savings where possible; and identifying failure risks for energy supplies and diversifying sources, including green energy. The International Roadmap for Devices and Systems (IRDS) has identified drivers of energy consumption increases in fabs: 

  • Larger fabs due to growing chip demand and complexity
  • Abatement of perfluorocarbons and volatile organic compound emissions
  • Increase of process steps and new tools such as extreme ultraviolet lithography in order to manufacture new, complex devices and 3D structures
  • Recycling of higher volumes of gases, chemicals and water

Suggested efforts to reduce energy consumption include: 

  • Considering sustainability in the design phase: it is easier to reduce energy needs for activities such as abatement and recycling when considered from project start-up.
  • Integrating smart systems and sensors: for example, idle modes can be used.
  • Utilizing energy-efficient components: such as those defined by SEMI.
  • Considering all heat recovery options: for example, hot ultrapure water can be used to heat other components.

Josh Best, Vice-President of Innovation at FTD Solutions, provided further insight into water management challenges: 

  • As manufacturing complexity increases, new chemistries are being added to the water which adds to the overall complexity of site water management.
  • Water management expertise is siloed across the industry in different suppliers and end-users.
  • Water’s relatively low cost means there is a long return on investment period for water management technology, which constrains innovation.
  • Purchasing new equipment can add to site complexity, extending time-to-market, reducing reliability, and requiring new expertise to operate that equipment.

Some of these constraints, such as a lack of expertise to diagnose a problem and lack of data-driven insights, can be solved through collaboration and knowledge-sharing. Centralized data repositories across the site can allow both end users and solutions providers to understand base problems and identify nuances.

View the event recording here.

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