In modern semiconductor manufacturing, which is characterized by precision and efficiency, ensuring collision-free operation within highly complex machines is a…

Digital twin in production: early validation and protection from collisions

In modern semiconductor production, which is characterized by precision and efficiency, ensuring collision-free operation within highly complex machine landscapes is a clear challenge. The successfully completed project, “Machine Material Damage Control (MMDC)”, aims to overcome this challenge. The implementation of a pioneering solution not only increases operational reliability, but also lays the foundation for future innovations in semiconductor production. This solution enables state-of-the-art technologies and seamless communication between different machine modules.

The challenge

Ensuring collision-free movement processes in production

The MMDC project begins with the challenging task of ensuring a continuous collision-free movement process inside and outside a complex multi-axis measuring machine in semiconductor production. The central challenge is to enable seamless communication and synchronization between a large number of machine modules operating in a highly sensitive clean room environment. This required a sophisticated solution that integrates a heterogeneous product landscape and the involvement of up to 25 different solution providers.

The complexity is compounded by the need to prevent material damage, product damage or machine collisions within the measuring cell. Any collision or malfunction can not only lead to costly downtime, but also compromise the integrity of the manufacturing process. Furthermore, the system must be able to realize a high-precision measurement process across multiple machine modules, which requires unparalleled accuracy in positioning and motion control. Developing a solution that meets these requirements within a complex structure of automation components and automation architecture is a challenging task for the project team.

The solution

Early validation of freedom from collision using the digital twin

To overcome the challenges, an innovative solution is being developed that combines an overarching machine control system with a specific “machine release sequence” and a digital twin. This strategy makes it possible to achieve precise control and coordination of movements between the individual machine modules while minimizing the risk of collisions.

A key element of the solution is the comprehensive implementation at all levels of PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) automation with the advanced Siemens SIMATIC hardware. From the head control to the field level, a consistent logic is established that enables detailed monitoring and control of the machine movements. The integration of the collision avoidance function of a Siemens SINUMERIK system plays a crucial role in facilitating the exchange of information between separate machine modules and thus detecting and avoiding potential collisions.

To fully exploit the potential of the digital twin, the powerful functions of Siemens NX MCD (Mechatronics Concept Designer) and Siemens SIMIT are used. This combination makes it possible to create a comprehensive and detailed image of the real machine environment and implement it in a hardware-in-the-loop scenario.

Siemens NX MCD provides an intuitive platform for the design, simulation and validation of complex mechatronic systems. By using NX MCD, not only can the physical movements of the machine modules within the vacuum vessel be simulated, but also the interaction between the individual components and their effects on the overall process can be analyzed. The ability to perform complex kinematic and dynamic analyses makes it possible to identify and address potential problem areas at an early stage, before they could occur in the real environment.

In addition, Siemens SIMIT enables a realistic simulation of the automation and control technology, which is essential for the precision control of the machine modules. SIMIT provides a platform on which virtual commissioning can be carried out, which means that the machine’s software and hardware components can be tested under real conditions without taking any physical risks. This is particularly beneficial for testing and optimizing collision avoidance functionalities.

The combination of NX MCD and SIMIT in a hardware-in-the-loop scenario allows the team to not only visualize the movements and interactions within the boilers under vacuum, but also to test them under near-real conditions. This advanced simulation environment provides an additional layer of safety testing and optimization by allowing changes in design or control logic to be virtually evaluated and refined before they are implemented in the real system. In this way, NX MCD and SIMIT are instrumental in minimizing the risk of material damage, product damage or machine collisions while maximizing the efficiency and safety of the entire manufacturing process.

The result

Significantly improved safety and efficiency in production

The result of the MMDC project is a significant improvement in the safety and efficiency of the movement of machine modules within semiconductor manufacturing. By implementing the solution, safe movement of the machine modules can be ensured, including the provision of a real-time simulation model that provides in-depth insights into the operation of the vacuum vessels. The successful realization of the project is based on the unique, holistic integration of state-of-the-art technologies across multiple Siemens product platforms, including SIMATIC, SINUMERIK, SIMIT and NX. This not only enables our customer to use the digital twin at an early stage of commissioning for a comprehensive understanding of the modules, movements, behaviors and measurement process steps, but also sets new standards in manufacturing technology. These innovations enable our customer to achieve the next level of manufacturing efficiency and reliability. The MMDC project demonstrates how cutting-edge technology and interdisciplinary collaboration can lead to breakthrough advances in semiconductor manufacturing and confirms our position as a pioneer for the future of industrial manufacturing.

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