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Safety Doesn’t Happen By Accident

By Joe Farah

Editor’s Note: We’re delighted to welcome Joe Farah to the Nanochip Express team as the author of a new column, “Tool Talk.” His idea is to bring customers tips and techniques that help them optimize the performance of their Applied Materials tools. With nearly 20 years at Applied—first as a CE, then as a field service manager, and now as a director of service product lines for dielectric systems—Joe knows tools. And he knows how to help you make them hum.

Applied Materials systems are built with efficiency and performance attributes that equal or exceed worldwide standards for top-performing semiconductor manufacturing systems. But there’s no substitute for the regularly scheduled maintenance that can keep your system running consistently with high performance, improved reliability and reduced variability—all of which help deliver higher production uptime.

Like any other high-performance machine—automobiles come to mind—capital equipment tools have been drastically improved to provide more system feedback to the user. Systems improvements such as additional sensors and more digital components assist in our overall maintenance analytics and predictive maintenance approach. Also, many of our older systems are currently receiving some very important upgrades including state-of-the-art sensors and data collection mechanisms that enable predictive maintenance.

Of course, these sophisticated tools require periodic maintenance in alignment with their specifications and Applied’s BKMs [best known methods] to deliver the high performance you need. In this column, we hope to offer helpful tips and hints to help you ensure the safe, high performance operation of your advanced Applied Materials production systems.

Safety First

Safety is not a one-time event that occurs during installation and initial qualification—safety is an on-going process that must be part of any maintenance routine.

Many of our systems require high power and toxic gas to run process recipes in many applications. Even our clean gas systems require high power. Therefore, safety is of the outmost importance and is always our primary concern, from delivery to the manufacturing floor through installation, start-up and volume wafer manufacturing.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget about the basics of safety. For all our customers regardless of the system utilized, we stress these basic safety tips:

  • Maintenance personnel should always check all interlocks before and after a maintenance event. This includes changing process kits, monthly, quarterly, semiannual and annual maintenance.
  • Anytime there is a facilities event or maintenance, system safety check protocols should always be followed precisely
  • In the event of power outage or glitch, all interlocks and safety checks should be performed
  • Always follow the safety maintenance recommendations provided in the Applied Materials system safety manual
  • When in doubt, stop work on the systems and call our service hotline* to reach your local service professional.

Safety is not the place for compromise. Following the safety requirements and safety checks can help reduce damage to equipment, but most importantly, ensure the safety of your personnel, your equipment and your fab. This will also help the systems run reliably and efficiently leading to better availability and reducing variability.

At Applied Materials, we strive to ensure our systems are providing the best performance for our customers. Our field service operations team is always ready and willing to assist in any maintenance event and provide maintenance support through our many service products available globally.

Send me your feedback, ask a question or suggest a future topic at joseph_farah@amat.com.

*Customers can contact the Global Customer Contact Center by telephone at 1-800-468-8888 (1-800-HOT-TTTT) or by email at www.GCC_AMNA@amat.com. Also, visit us online at www.appliedmaterials.com/customer-portal.