Enhancing Cleanroom Operations: 3 Insights from the SEMI Fab Owners Alliance Q1 Collaborative Forum

Feb 9 2024

During the recent SEMI members at the Fab Owners Alliance Q1 Collaborative Forum, our team connected with fellow members, fostering connections and diving into industry trends. Across the numerous conversations, there were three key themes that members engaged in and are focused on diving deeper into. We highlight the key conversations and predictions on where these trends may go.

1. The Many Faces of Digital Twins
As Romaric and Polar Semiconductor shared, digital twin technology, applied to Automated Material Handling Systems (AMHS), allows for a virtual replica of the cleanroom logistics to be created. But what is a digital twin? During the conversation, the presenter made a point that if you asked 10 people what a digital twin is, you’d likely get 10 different answers.

One area that we see cleanrooms leveraging digital twin technology is through computational fluid dynamics (CFD). With CFD, Cleanroom managers can simulate different air flow scenarios, measuring if the air movement through filters is achieving the class specifications needed. Investing in AMHS digital twin simulations can significantly enhance operational efficiency, reduce costs, and ensure a seamless material flow within cleanroom environments.

2. Cyber Security Management is Crucial
As cleanroom facilities become more digitized, the vulnerability to cyber threats increases. The conference highlighted the pressing need for robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard sensitive data, manufacturing processes, and equipment within cleanrooms. As one member shared, a cyber security attack could take 4-6 weeks to recover from and cost the company billions of dollars in lost revenue. With nearly 21 trillion global cyber security attacks made annually, companies must constantly evolve their security training, processes, and education of employees.

Prioritizing cybersecurity measures is essential to safeguard critical processes and data. Regular training, updating software systems, and adopting industry-standard security protocols are crucial steps in preventing cyber threats.

3. Enhanced Focus on Skilled Workforce Needed to Drive Industry Forward
With over 89% of construction firms challenged with hiring skilled labor in 2023, many initiatives are underway to develop talent in a depleted field. Arizona State University shared their AZNext program, creating a workforce training acceleration partnership. While the industry works to attract talent, firms are looking for new solutions to keep projects on time and deliver for customers in complex spaces.

Advanced cleanroom ceiling systems represent complex architectural design, and their proper construction requires a lot of work also strategic partners that can deliver the right solution. At Nortek Air Solutions CleanSpace, we’ve developed our modular ceiling grids, like our the Clean-Trak and Flex-Trak Hybrid designs, to support an off-site manufacturing model. They are fully- assembled at the factory and delivered complete, ready to be installed, reducing the need for knowledgeable and intensive onsite labor. As the industry works through the labor gap, look for partners that can deliver the right solution through offsite manufacturing, hybrid, or onsite manufacturing to meet the needs of your project.

As we look across the cleanroom landscape for 2024, these focuses will continue to be at the forefront of cleanroom discussions and how the industry will continue to evolve. Thank you SEMI Fab Owners Alliance for the great discussions as we continue to move the industry forward.