Semiconductors are considered the key technology for the connected world. The company Bosch is one of the leading global manufacturers of semiconductors. For over 50 years, the company has been producing a range of semiconductors for use in consumer and entertainment electronics (mobile phones, gaming consoles), wearables (fitness trackers, smart watches or smart glasses) and vehicles. In 2010, Bosch built a factory for 200 mm semiconductors in Reutlingen, Germany in order to keep up with the growing demand. There, in a complex manufacturing process lasting up to 14 weeks, finished semiconductor chips are created from raw silicon wafers.
Manufacturing for the partially automated production process is spread across a very large area, and individual production areas encompass several “teeth”—i.e., corridors—for individual production stages. “Because employees weren’t able to receive a central overview of the progress of the individual production stages in their area, they had to regularly walk through the production areas to see if the manufacturing facilities had already finished processing somewhere,” explains Benjamin Wagner, from the area Equipment Engineering – Lithography at Bosch.
“These ‘patrols’ not only took up too much time, but could also lead to situations where ‘completes’—the number of processed wafers—or even any kind of disruption would only be discovered after longer periods of time.”
This lead daily production to unnecessarily fall below expectations.
“It didn’t take much time to formulate what everyone involved wanted: Giving employees the option to obtain, at any time from a central location, a visualization-based overview of where completes are missing, disruptions are occurring, maintenance or repairs are underway, or even where a new batch can be started so that downtimes can be reduced,” Wagner recalls.
Data visualization was nothing new to Bosch. Visualization solutions were already in place in various areas of production; however, these operated in parallel and each served different requirements. Using a single system to cover all needs was not possible. This meant that modifications or adjustments always resulted in a new programming project and thus a very large investment in time and costs.
“Our in-house IT department finally gave us the push to find a visualization solution that could be implemented universally,” explains Wagner.
In the company’s search for a visualization solution, real-time data visualization was the decisive factor. A further requirement was the seamless integration of all necessary data sources. The main data source is an oracle server that had to be connected directly. Finally, the application should serve as the standard for all applications in production and enable adjustments to be made using internal resources.
The choice fell on Peakboard as it fulfilled all of these requirements.
“The universal applicability of the Peakboard solution immediately convinced us. And because we had already precisely defined our requirements and the type of visualization beforehand, creating the first dashboard was very fast,”
explains Benjamin Wagner, who had taken over management of the project. An andon board is the best choice for this kind of multilayered manufacturing process. “Together with a Peakboard employee, we created the first visualization in a workshop. In total, it only took a single business day until our first dashboard was finished and integrated into our system.”
The andon board, configured using the Peakboard Designer software, is displayed on a large monitor fixed to the production hall ceiling at a central location. The visualization is updated every 30 seconds, so that all information is constantly up-to-date.
This gives employees an optimal overview of the status quo of current production without the need to walk along the entire production line.
“Our expectations were completely and fully met. All incidents can now be identified immediately and our manufacturing staff are now able to immediately initiate the correct action for every situation. This has not only made our work easier, but has also increased satisfaction, because the board is a huge help.”
The staff immediately accepted the new dashboard as a direct source of support in production. The solution eliminates the time-consuming inspection rounds along the production line while simultaneously giving employees information that enables them to quickly intervene and thereby directly contribute to the success of their work—added value that won them over from day one.
“Of course, we didn’t stop at this single dashboard from Peakboard: Today, another 20 Peakboard systems are integrated into our system in manufacturing. We are now creating a standard that will ensure that all staff have access to the same level of information.” Wagner rejoices.
This feature is important, because manufacturing runs round-the-clock in multiple shifts and employees often have breaks lasting several days—gathering the information will now be even faster since the visualizations are created according the same principles everywhere.
The success of the Peakboard solution in semiconductor production quickly made news at Bosch, and further areas have now registered their interest in this kind of visualization. Thanks to Peakboard’s limitless design possibilities, a custom dashboard can be created for every area of the factory. Currently, a further 10 dashboards are already planned. But even with this, plenty of potential still remains.