An optimal residency-aware scheduling technique for cluster tools with buffer module

TitleAn optimal residency-aware scheduling technique for cluster tools with buffer module
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsRostami, S., and B. Hamidzadeh
JournalSemiconductor Manufacturing, IEEE Transactions on
Pagination68 - 73
Date Publishedfeb.
Keywordsbuffer module, cluster tool scheduling, cluster tools, constraint theory, flexible manufacturing systems, flexible reconfigurable environment, integrated circuit manufacture, maintenance, maintenance engineering, manufacturing processes, optimal residency-aware scheduling technique, optimisation, production management, residency constraint, robot arm, scheduling, semiconductor manufacturing, timing constraint, timing limit, tradeoff

Cluster tools provide a flexible, reconfigurable, and efficient environment for several manufacturing processes (e.g., semiconductor manufacturing). A new timing constraint (distinct from a simple deadline), referred to as residency constraint, puts a timing limit on the time that a wafer can stay in a processing module in a cluster tool. The authors demonstrate that a solution that does not address residency constraints can be found easily. However, when residency constraints are added to the model, the problem becomes complex and a scheduling technique may spend a long time searching for a good solution. Also, in some cases, one may need to decrease throughput to satisfy residency constraints. The authors introduce a new technique to address cluster tool scheduling in the presence of residency constraints. The proposed technique uses a buffer resource for temporarily holding wafers to release other resources such as the robot arm. This resource is usually available in the tool for maintenance reasons. A tradeoff is discussed in using the buffer resource and a scheduling algorithm is presented that will use this resource when it can help to increase throughput under residency constraints. The experiments show that in many cases that are common in semiconductor manufacturing, use of their proposed technique can improve throughput.


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