Product Briefing Outline: Applied Materials has launched its Applied ‘SmartFactory’ MES software that is claimed to be an out-of-the-box factory automation solution. SmartFactory can be deployed in less than 60 days to improve product quality, boost productivity, and cut operational costs, according to the company, and is also the first MES available with integrated advanced process control (APC) capability.
Problem: In many manual and semiautomated manufacturing factories, the factory's process equipment, quality control, and output are only partially connected into a factorywide automation framework, usually through internally developed networks and tracking systems. However, without comprehensive, real-time information about all aspects of fab operation, it is difficult to make decisions and track performance metrics to achieve consistent, day-to-day product quality and output. Without the right data/data tracking across the entire factory, it can be difficult to manage costs and reduce waste in the manufacturing line.
Solution: The SmartFactory system features prebuilt, technology-specific scenarios to monitor every machine and all work-in-progress material movements, manage production sequencing, create an audit trail, and deliver instructions to shop-floor workers via a consistent, task-focused graphical user interface. The SmartFactory system’s optional APC module uses Applied ‘E3’ technology to interface directly with production equipment, enabling real-time, run-to-run (R2R) process tuning and fault detection and classification (FDC) to increase process capability and reduce unplanned downtime. Additionally, SmartFactory features predefined industry functions and templates that ensure rapid deployment. It enables customers to immediately initiate standard tracking of work-in-process and equipment, as well as generate a variety of critical reports so users can effectively manage factory operations.
Applications: All solar manufacturing facilities.
Platform: Based on Applied’s ‘FAB300’ MES software suite, used in 300mm semiconductor fabs, the framework approach allows the software to be expanded with plug-in components from Applied’s portfolio of factory automation software.
Availability: May 2010 onwards.