Sequencing Wafer Handler Moves to Improve the Performance of Sequential Cluster Tools
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Cluster tools are highly integrated machines that can perform a sequence of semiconductor manufacturing processes. The sequence of wafer handler moves affects the total time needed to process a set of wafers. Reducing this time can reduce cycle time, reduce tool utilization, and increase tool capacity. This paper introduces the cluster tool scheduling problem for sequential cluster tools and describes a branch-and-bound algorithm that can find an optimal sequence of wafer handler moves. In addition, we enumerate the set of 1-unit cyclic sequences for two- and three-stage sequential cluster tools. Experimental results show that the tool performance can be improved significantly if the wafer handler follows a cyclic sequence instead of using a dispatching rule.