The Transition to Next Generation Manufacturing IT-Systems
Semiconductor industry is one of the most dynamical industries in which ups and downs of the business are evident and well known. The increase of production capacity in times of high demand on both, chips and their delayed availability, can be observed together with the decrease of chip demand in a cycle of 2 to 4 years. At the same time semiconductor industry manufactures at the technical limits. The processing technology introduced to manufacture modern microprocessors uses electrical structures within sub micron (130 nm) area, it uses a very complex copper process technology and - very important for the herein discussed problem domain - it uses so called silicon wafers of a 300 mm diameter which require a completely automated material transport. 300 mm wafers enable the semiconductor industry to produce high volume products (e.g., DRAMs) economically. The increased surface allows to manufacture more than twice as much products compared to the established 200 mm wafers at the same time. Although a semiconductor manufacturer has to invest about 1 to 3 billion US$ for a new 300 mm manufacturing facility (also called "300 mm fab"), all top market companies are ramping-up or planning such fabs. There is a heuristic law ("Moore's Law", established 1965 by Gordon Moore, co-founder of the Intel Corporation) which indicates a fourfold increase of transistors on a chip about every three years. Having this in mind it is a must for top market companies to have-cutting-edge technologies at hand and to compensate the ever increasing product and process development effort by economic manufacturing facilities.