The company faced significant challenges in tracking assets, such as targets, electrostatic-chucks, and power supplies, valued in the tens of thousands to millions of dollars.
The need to comply with calibration requirements and protect client intellectual property (IP) further underscored the importance of a comprehensive solution.
Applied Materials adopted a hybrid system comprising passive RFID tags and a Wi‑Fi‑based Real-Time Location System (RTLS) provided by Tagit Solutions.
The company valued a provider willing to address the unique challenges of a semiconductor environment, where RF noise and clean room requirements posed significant considerations.
This integrated technology aimed to streamline asset tracking, enhance calibration compliance, and safeguard client IP by monitoring the real-time location of products, particularly silicon wafers used in testing.
The RFID system comprises:
- Passive RFID – Utilized EPC Gen 2 passive UHF tags on assets.
- RFID Readers – The RFID system started with handheld readers from Motorola. Fixed RFID readers from Alien Technology were added subsequently and strategically placed at doorways.
- RTLS – Wi-Fi-based RTLS provided real-time location data for critical assets. The functionality was added to monitor about 10% of high-value assets and customer IP.
- Software – Tagit’s software interpreted and managed all collected data, providing a comprehensive dashboard for asset quantity, movements, and replacement needs.
- Asset Tracking: RFID tags on equipment facilitated quick location identification, ensuring inspectors could efficiently locate test and measurement equipment for ISO compliance.
- IP Protection: The system enabled real-time tracking of customer wafers, ensuring the protection of valuable intellectual property worth millions of dollars.
- Calibration Management: The ability to track and locate assets streamlined the calibration process, allowing inspectors to identify tools requiring calibration promptly.
- Cost Savings: The RFID system prevented unnecessary equipment purchases by providing visibility into existing assets, saving costs for the company.
- Tax Credits: Accurate tracking of equipment usage within the lab enabled Applied Materials to claim tax credits for depreciated equipment over time.
The phased implementation of RFID technology at Applied Materials has resulted in a well-managed system that not only meets the company’s asset tracking and compliance needs but also enhances IP protection for its clients.
The successful collaboration with Tagit Solutions highlights the importance of strategic planning and flexibility when implementing RFID solutions in complex industrial settings.
Xerafy is a pioneer in Industrial RFID, bringing to market several innovations that enable advanced industrial identification and automation capabilities.
In addition to a complete range of field-proven RFID tags available off-the-shelf, Xerafy offers Custom RFID Tags services, covering everything from a personalization service bureau to custom-design engineering capabilities.