Leading-Edge Semiconductor Fab

The delivery of a modern Leading-Edge Semiconductor Fab has many challenges and we know top of the list for any engineer in any build phase is the need to meet the Program’s schedule goals.  The Semiconductor market moves at breakneck speed, process technologies have life cycles of single digit years. The Capital expenditure on a new Fab amounts to multiple Billions of Dollars. Being late can have a severe impact on an owner's business profitability.

Predictability in your schedule is key. How can an Owner achieve this when much of the challenge of achieving a schedule’s goals is down to the procurement of materials and equipment or a well-managed construction in the field?

The answer lies in Design, the starting point for everything and perhaps the largest influencer on project outcomes, of all the project functions.

1. Early Release Information

The days of completing a fully integrated Issue for Bid/Construction package are long behind us. To move projects forward key information is required early to release procurement of Large Bore Pipe, HV Transformers, Bulk Orders of High Purity Pipe, Turnkey Process Waste/Water Systems and Gas/Chemical Distribution Equipment.

Design resources are scarce making it difficult to compress the final design output to meet these requirements.

Development of a strategy to move forward requires deep coordination of several project entities:

  • Industrial Engineers -What are the Factory Requirements we can define with confidence?
  • Project Engineering - What is the Facilities Scope defined by these requirements?
  • Procurement – What is the market analysis for the lead time of material/equipment?
  • Project Management - What is the schedule pass back form the need date?
  • Design Management - What is the minimum amount of information that needs to be released to allow progression of this scope?  

This kind of strategy produces results, but also a design package plan involving dozens of Early Procurement, Enabling, Fabrication Release packages, which can be a huge challenge to manage. The key to success is communication and the efficient management of the data between stakeholders.

2. Integrated Design and OSM

Two areas where programs can produce big wins are Off-Site Manufacturing (OSM) and early trade engagement in design.  

Historically Architectural Engineers (AE) develop 3D content to the level of detail required to produce a coordinated, cost-measurable design. Then the awarded General Contractor (GC) will develop this content to the required fabrication level of detail, this takes time and is inefficient. Early engagement with GC/Trade Modelers can effectively have them act as the AE’s modeler, meaning the Issue of a full construction package (IFC) release is at a fabrication level of design. This can create challenges with the contractors leverage on price, but this can be mitigated with pre-agreed rates schedules and a partnership approach.  

Off Site Manufacturing, can offer many rewards (site labour, quality, safety) including meeting schedule if properly managed. Allowing turnkey vendors to manage the delivery with their business partners can mitigate material supply issues, labour constraints, geo-specific challenges.

However, contracting durations, procurement and shipping challenges mean early engagement is critical. Again, partnership between the project stakeholders is critical to get scope well enough defined early to enable the OSM Projects to kick off. Communication and the timely understanding and release of project data is critical.

3. Managing Change

Semiconductor Fabs are notorious for scope change that needs to be managed in the project life cycle. Engineers and Project Managers from Civil or even other Industrial backgrounds would struggle to accept the level of change these Programs require.  

Let’s consider it with a simple analogy.

You are having a house built, the Painter is halfway through their work when you request finishing the job 2 weeks early. And you want to change the colour of the walls, take off all the skirting boards (which will be repainted by a newly appointed painter), and they can only paint on certain days as you want to move in straight away.  

Now scale that scenario up to 8,000 Construction Staff and a multi-billion Euro facility.

Understanding and accepting change is part of the reality of the project. The key to managing it is a timely understanding of the impact. Knowing the impact means informed decisions can be made. Is the change worth the schedule and budget impactions? Does the change impact critical milestones?

  • Manufacturing Change – New tool set, New process technology
  • Identify the change in the Fab Facilities scope
  • Understand the Cost & Schedule Impact
  • Make an informed decision
  • Execute the plan

All too often there is no time to fully comprehend the scope change using traditional methods, decisions are made and the impact is not realised until well into the execution phase.

Where can Basesite help?

Fabbuilder, our bespoke design automation platform can change this cycle, reducing the duration needed to define the scope from weeks to hours.  

This facilitates real-time decision-making, and with our data optimization and processing prowess, we deliver scope information to those who can execute fastest.

At Basesite we are a Semiconductor Owner’s  Project Delivery Data Partners. We are not external consultants, we integrate into our partner organisations and help solve problems and enable solutions like those we explored here.

We are Engineers and Data Scientists who understand the Advanced Technologies sector. Everything that enables project success comes down to data and communication, our goal is to make the efficient management of these aspects as seamless as possible.