Green manufacturing: What you need to know

Tatsuo Enami Executive Officer & General Manager of Sales, Gigaphoton, Inc.

Green is the color for the decade and future decades as each country is developing its own standards for energy consumption and implementing its green initiatives. At one time considered a passing trend, green initiatives are now mandatory and force manufacturers to not only maintain corporate responsibility, but to positively impact the bottom line. As a result, high-volume manufacturers must work with vendors and suppliers that will help enable their overall cost and green manufacturing goals. Tracking and managing total operational costs is critical for sustaining a cost-effective, high-volume manufacturing (HVM) environment. Effective partners are already engaged in and developing systems on ‘green’ platforms using technology and services that balance performance with environmental impact, all within the barriers of cost. It includes companies that are designing systems using innovative techniques and new technologies that not only reduce the cost of energy, but also look at ways to reduce the cost of consumables, and the cost of downtime for HVM. By taking a total cost-of-operation approach when considering vendors and suppliers in a green manufacturing strategy, the resulting energy and environmental improvements can significantly lower fab operating costs.

When considering light sources, the power consumption of excimer lasers will continue to increase, as high-power lasers grow in demand especially for 450-mm processes, it has increased 4.5x over the past 6 years. As these processes gear up for HVM, the environmental impact cannot be ignored. The estimated cost for utilities for lasers, which includes electricity consumption, gas consumption and heat management, will be approximately 30% of the total cost-of-operation. Clearly, reducing utility costs is critical. As a result, the true value of a laser for HVM weighs heavily on its effectiveness in controlling utility costs. To address this issue, several companies are working to find solutions. Gigaphoton is currently developing a new hybrid laser system that utilizes a solid-state laser chamber. This system will require a maximum power of only 36kW compared to 60kW on the current system. When considering costs, the use of a hybrid laser system for HVM can result in approximately 40% less overall power consumption from the laser system alone. As there are others in development by other companies, this is an example of one solution that is in development to reduce energy and help enable HVM.

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Keep in mind, a successful partner in your green manufacturing strategy will develop wider technology solutions that also include reducing the cost of consumables and the cost of downtime. Companies that have invested time and considerable resources to develop eco-friendly systems will provide the most effective all-around solutions. For example, to further reduce the overall cost-of-operation and maintenance, determine if your potential partner has a roadmap to develop longer-life consumables, or develop a system that removes some of the consumables all together. In the case with hybrid lasers, this would be the Line-Narrowing Module (LNM) and the Enhanced Front Mirror (EFM). Gas is another consumable that also affects downtime. New techniques for system optimization have been developed that reduce the amount of gas needed by 50% and minimize the down time for maintenance by half compared to existing laser systems.

There are many companies that are working to provide ‘green’ solutions for its customer. Gigaphoton has been leading the ‘green’ concept since 2007. By working with our customers to identify technology, performance and cost models for HVM, Gigaphoton has developed the EcoPhoton program. When considering a green manufacturing strategy for HVM, to significantly reduce the overall cost-of-operation partner companies need to provide solutions that reduce energy consumption, and also a roadmap to develop longer-life consumables, gas modules with less volume and refill requirements, all of which contribute to minimizing down time for maintenance. The right partner can make the environment greener as well as your bottom line. •

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