u Reticle pods. u Problem Formulation: How can FOUPs

u  Management Dilemma: Large amount of money is
continuously invested in training tool runners how to handle FOUPs and
Reticles, still at least two reticles per year are damaged due to manual
handling. At times there is a customer reticle that is damaged, customers
become hesitant in lending their reticle to ASML for system qualification and
testing. Signification problems occur due to contamination as new NXE systems
are very prone to contamination, PGV wheels do introduce contamination inside
cabins where machine are build, also these PGV’s need a lot of space. Due to
increase in demand in “litho” tools more PGV’s will be needed to meet current
FOUPs and reticle pods transport demand.

considers that manual handling and transport is the primary root cause of
damages. Management would like to investigate if material handling with ASML
fab could be automated/semi-automated or manual handling could be improved,
also they need a solution to track and trace the location of FOUPs and Reticle

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u  Problem Formulation: How can FOUPs and Reticle
pod handling and transport inside ASML cleanroom be improved to minimize
damage, time and cost?

What kind of material
handling system or features can be a solution to identified problems and challenges?

1.       Introduction to ASML:

Client: This research will be conducted for ASML.

Introduction to ASML:

is an original equipment manufacturer of lithography equipment, these “litho”
tools are used in making chips which are used in electrical or electronic
devices (ASML,n.d.)




Research Objective:

Goal IN research: The goal of
this research is to diagnose the issues  in material handling (Reticles and FOUPs) at
ASML. The goal of the researcher is to investigate current material handling
(FOUPs and Reticles) system including material flows within ASML Fab and to
identify ways of improving material handling and to propose solutions to the
management dilemma.

Scope of Research:

scope of this research is to diagnose the problems in material handling
(Reticles and FOUPs) at ASML. The scope of the researcher is to investigate
current material handling (FOUPs and Reticles) system within ASML Fab and to
identify which mechanisms could be incorporated to enhance its material
handling process, and to propose solutions to the management dilemma. The scope
only covers FOUPs and Reticle pods handling system within ASML cleanroom. This
research will not cover other tool handling and transport systems within ASML


Diagnosis: Initial data

The checklist (Kulwiec,
1985) given below which is used as
starting point which has helped in spotting handling problems in ASML

employees waste time in handling materials

loading and Unloading

Two man
lifting/transporting jobs


Damage to

inside machine cabins

A fish bone diagram is used to identify root
causes behind poor quality issues due to FOUPs and Reticle pod handling. A fish
bone diagram helps discovering possible causes related to a problem to identify
its root causes. The problem statement written in the box on the right hand
side of the “fish-bone” diagram. Major cause categories  like Man, Machine, Method, Environment,
Material are connected to the “backbone” of the fish-bone diagram (Brassard,2002) .

              Identified causes:

There is
high  workload to transport reticles at
times the tool runner is under pressure this could result in handling errors,
which results in damage to either or both reticle and FOUP

In case
personal guided vehicle is not available a reticle has to be transported with 2
operators (In practice this is not always done)

walking distance between cabin , process lab and tool center  (± 20 min) also results in high waiting times
and work in progress.

there is no RFID tracking system it is not possible to track a Reticle which
has to be returned at least once per week to check machine status.

introduce contamination inside machine cabins