RFID: Freescale tracks wafer locations through shop floor


Austin, TX —Locating wafer lots in a factory is often time consuming. Hundreds of semiconductor wafer lots are stored and staged throughout the various floors and processing areas at the Freescale facility here. A lot is a suitcase-like container holding wafers worth thousands of dollars. In mature, established factories where automated material handling systems (AMHS) have limited capability, much of the tracking and moving is still done manually. Converting to advanced material handling systems can be expensive in upfront costs (perhaps several hundred million dollars for nine Freescale factories) and lost productivity during conversion.

No time is spent verifying wafer locations: Freescale show how it uses RFID to track wafer lots as they move through the shop floor.

Using the latest radio frequency identification (RFID) wireless technology, Freescale , in conjunction with Aeroscout , designed an innovative and cost-effective way for associates to locate lots on the factory floor promptly. The implementation allows associates to push a button to display lot location on the screen within seconds. This greatly improves lot handling and minimizes the risk of error, the companies say.

An AMHS would cost several hundred million dollars for nine factories and would resolve two problems, says Freescale: automatic material transfer, and lot locating on the shop floor. The RFID solution only solves the lot locating problem, but at a fraction of the cost (less than $1.5 million per factory, a 20x cost advantage for all 9 factories). Freescale says its real-time visibility of lot location on the shop floor is the biggest pain point; the RFID implementation resolves that at a fraction of the cost, while coving the entire factory, while AMHS only covers the lot location within a smaller processing area.

Control Engineering has covered other Freescale developments .

Also read, “ What’s Your RFID Spin?

—Edited by Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief, Control Engineering Weekly News
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