300mm Semiconductor Load Port

The Situation

One of the top three largest semiconductor factory automation companies needed to rapidly come to market with their own load port design. Their partnership with a load port supplier was about to dissolve leaving them without a source for this critical component. Introducing a new design into a maturing marketplace would require "leap frogging" existing products while simultaneously meeting high MTBF targets.

The Challenge

Interoperability, which is the ability to run any manufacturer’s FOUP without readjustment of the loadport, was a critical need not being met by current loadports. After analyzing the existing designs, Owens Design determined the cause of the failures and developed an innovative load door removal mechanism that solved the problem. An MTBF target of 2+ years was another critical design objective. Support for emerging factory automation standards and tight cost targets also challenged the design team.

The Solution

Owens Design delivered a load port that not only met the interoperability goals, but also exceeded the MTBF goals by 2X. The initial units were delivered in four months from project start to ship. The program was run in a close collaboration with our customer whose design team contributed their proprietary controls and software. Within one year, our customer had a highly reliable loadport in their product portfolio from a source they could count on. Better yet, the loadport was being integrated on their customer’s equipment for revenue. The new loadport also resulted in a unit cost savings of over 40% allowing them to more aggressively compete in the marketplace.