The installation and commissioning of machines for the semiconductor industry are complex and require a high quality of service. Fabmatics GmbH reaches out to them with a new digital service portal. This reduces the company’s commissioning effort by 50 percent.
The challenge: Inefficient communication and costly commissioning
The semiconductor industry has special requirements for the machines and systems used to produce wafers and chips: Production takes place in clean rooms and the basic rule is to use only as many human employees as absolutely necessary. This reduces particle contamination and improves production quality. Therefore, the industry often uses handling systems and autonomous or rail-guided transport robots.
Fabmatics GmbH is an experienced specialist in these and other machines that automate material flows and handling processes in high-tech industries. They are configured in close coordination with the customer and then put into operation. As a result, the transport and handling systems precisely match the customer processes.
For the employees in the individual projects, this means a high effort for communication and documentation. Until now, the company used Excel spreadsheets and other Office documents to track work progress in the rotating teams at any time. It also managed information on standardized commissioning workflows and Factory Acceptance Tests (FAT).
The solution: A service portal for communication and life cycle management
Solutions with Excel as the central tool are common, but not very efficient for projects and commissioning. That’s why Fabmatics chose the EquipmentCloud® digital service solution from Kontron AIS. It sustainably improves service quality and at the same time serves as a central interface for service technicians, development and application engineers around the life cycle management of Fabmatics handling systems.
In-house colleagues and the commissioning team thus have a central point of contact that is flexible and accessible via various mobile devices. Numerous interactive apps tailored to mechanical engineering are integrated into the web-based service solution. A dashboard with dynamic widgets improves user experience. The new solution for Fabmatics thus optimizes the commissioning process. This also includes a customer-specific version management for the device software. In this way, the individual machines each receive exactly the updates and patches that are released for the corresponding device type.
The Workflows app performs an important task during commissioning. It contains descriptions of work processes and the corresponding checklists. The workflows are modularly structured as task boards, so that work can be interrupted at any time and resumed later. One example: The handling systems work with cameras whose calibration requires the highest precision. The checklists support the technician during commissioning so that he does not overlook any necessary settings.
The result: Better project management and falling costs
EquipmentCloud delivered two key successes for Fabmatics: the company reduced commissioning time by 50 percent and increased overall process speed by 30 percent. This was primarily due to the documentation of commissioning and the establishment of a comprehensive plant history, which facilitates the processing of service cases.
The service portal helps to automate the organization of complex commissioning in mechanical and plant engineering. This saves the teams time and there are fewer discrepancies in the coordination. Increased communication creates efficient knowledge sharing across departmental boundaries, and practical experience gained during commissioning flows back into the company. In this way, the solution ensures process quality in the long term. All parties involved remain up-to-date and have comprehensive documentation at all times. At the same time, they keep an eye on all process steps so that a smooth flow without interruption is guaranteed.
The Factory Acceptance Test for the transport robots is a good example of success. It is not considered successful until each new machine has been running trouble-free for 72 hours. If an error occurs, the test starts again after the correction. The use of EquipmentCloud® brought significant success within a short period of time. Before their introduction, several attempts were sometimes necessary before a transport robot was finally accepted. The improvement in service quality ensured that, on average, only one acceptance test is now required.