Mathematical-based approaches for the semiconductor capital equipment installation and qualification scheduling problem

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Ramping up a semiconductor wafer fabrication facility is a challenging endeavor. One of the key components of this process is to schedule a large number of activities in installing and

Ramping up a semiconductor wafer fabrication facility is a challenging endeavor. One of the key components of this process is to schedule a large number of activities in installing and qualifying (Install/Qual) the capital intensive and sophisticated manufacturing equipment. Activities in the Install/Qual process share multiple types of expensive and scare resources and each activity might potentially have multiple processing options. In this dissertation, the semiconductor capital equipment Install/Qual scheduling problem is modeled as a multi-mode resource-constrained project scheduling problem (MRCPSP) with multiple special extensions. Three phases of research are carried out: the first phase studies the special problem characteristics of the Install/Qual process, including multiple activity processing options, time-varying resource availability levels, resource vacations, and activity splitting that does not allow preemption. A modified precedence tree-based branch-and-bound algorithm is proposed to solve small size academic problem instances to optimality. Heuristic-based methodologies are the main focus of phase 2. Modified priority rule-based simple heuristics and a modified random key-based genetic algorithm (RKGA) are proposed to search for Install/Qual schedules with short makespans but subject to resource constraints. Methodologies are tested on both small and large random academic problem instances and instances that are similar to the actual Install/Qual process of a major semiconductor manufacturer. In phase 3, a decision making framework is proposed to strategically plan the Install/Qual capacity ramp. Product market demand, product market price, resource consumption cost, as well as the payment of capital equipment, are considered. A modified simulated annealing (SA) algorithm-based optimization module is integrated with a Monte Carlo simulation-based simulation module to search for good capacity ramping strategies under uncertain market information. The decision making framework can be used during the Install/Qual schedule planning phase as well as the Install/Qual schedule execution phase when there is a portion of equipment that has already been installed or qualified. Computational experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of the decision making framework.