Sensitivity Analysis and Discrete Stochastic Optimization for Semiconductor Manufacturing Systems
Mellacheruvu, Praveen V.
Herrmann, Jeffrey W.
Fu, Michael C.
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The semiconductor industry is a capital-intensive industry with rapid time-to-market, short product development cycles, complex product flows and other characteristics. These factors make it necessary to utilize equipment efficiently and reduce cycle times. Further, the complexity and highly stochastic nature of these manufacturing systems make it difficult to study their characteristics through analytical models. Hence we resort to simulation-based methodologies to model these systems.<p>This research aims at developing and implementing simulation-based operations research techniques to facilitate System Control (through sensitivity analysis) and System Design (through optimization) for semiconductor manufacturing systems.<p>Sensitivity analysis for small changes in input parameters is performed using gradient estimation techniques. Gradient estimation methods are evaluated by studying the state of the art and comparing the finite difference method and simultaneous perturbation method by applying them to a stochastic manufacturing system. The results are compared with the gradients obtained through analytical queueing models. The finite difference method is implemented in a heterogeneous simulation environment (HSE)-based decision support tool for process engineers. This tool performs heterogeneous simulations and sensitivity analyses.<p>The gradient-based techniques used for sensitivity analysis form the building blocks for a gradient-based discrete stochastic optimization procedure. This procedure is applied to the problem of allocating a limited budget to machine purchases to achieve throughput requirements and minimize cycle time. The performance of the algorithm is evaluated by applying the algorithm on a wide range of problem instances.