Case Study: NeoMatrix and Wafer Process Systems Achieve Customer's Needs in a Fast-Paced R&D Environment

microchip manufacturing

Machine Automation Controllers & Omron Sysmac Studio Platform Deliver a Turnkey R&D Etching System

NeoMatrix and Wafer Process Systems (WPS) utilized Machine Automation Controllers and Sysmac Studio Programming Platform to deliver a turnkey R&D Etching System to a leading materials company in the chip manufacturing industry.


Wafer Process Systems needed a trusted partner to assist in delivering a fully automated turn-key Etching System for the end customer. NeoMatrix was chosen to design, develop and implement the programming and Human-Machine Interface controlling the system. The end user needed a controls system that would:

  • Run multiple recipes with a variety of parameters.
  • Include the ability to have multiple wafers running through the tool at a time.
  • Create a safe environment for operators working with hazardous chemicals.
  • Utilize a Servo Motor System to automatically move Wafers from bay to bay.
  • Handle all alarming as well as automatically shut the tool down if needed.
  • Automatically handle waste collection after a configurable number of cycles have run.


The Solution

wafer processing plantThe new system consists of two cabinets, the etching cabinet and bulk waste collection cabinet. Utilizing a single Omron NX-100 series MAC, a PC as the HMI on the etching cabinet and Maple Systems HMI for the bulk waste cabinet, NeoMatrix and WPS accomplished all the customers’ needs in the fast-paced R&D environment.

Leveraging our vast library of software standards - NeoMatrix was able to rapidly design and develop the controls system, reducing cost and shortening lead time. NeoMatrix used Omron Sysmac Studio to program the controller as well as to integrate with the Soft-NA HMI platform. The approach to use Omron’s HMI platform in conjunction with the controllers programming environment allowed for straightforward integration. The result was a high-performance HMI interface that is intuitive to use and learn.

The controls behind the system are automating a large number of previously manual processes. All the system requires is an operator to load a recipe, place a basket in the queue and hit start. The Machine Automated Controller handles all the following processes and more:

  • Dosing chemical baths to maintain a percent composition SP.
  • Moving baskets between bays using a servo robotic system.
  • Integrating heaters to bring baths up to the proper temperature SP.
  • Controls ultrasonic frequencies.
  • Automates air flow valves used in precise

Increased Throughput

NeoMatrix was tasked with finding a way for the end user to run multiple baskets through the tool at a time. The main constraint behind this was the singular servo robot arm outfitted on the etching cabinet. Through collaborative problem-solving with Wafer Process Systems, the system can process up to 7 baskets at a time. The servo robot was programmed with the ability to perform a drop off and a pickup when moving baskets. This led to a 700% increase in throughput over earlier systems where the basket was fixed to the robot.


Microchip manufacturing requires multiple chemicals for production that could be extremely harmful to the operators working with them. Omron’s NX-SL3300 safety CPU was programmed to handle all safety considerations, ensuring operator safety is paramount. The system can detect a missing safety input/output and automatically go into a safe state.

Standard Software

NeoMatrix has a vast library of software standards that are suited for any type of automation standard. By utilizing Control Modules, Equipment Modules, Phases and Operations NeoMatrix ensures the delivery of a scalable and flexible automated manufacturing systems. This architecture allows for changes to be implemented faster, increased reliability and ease of testing. Each standard in our library has been thoroughly tested by our team of engineers.

Recipe System

Utilizing Omron Sysmac Studio, NeoMatrix created a recipe management system. Recipes are stored locally on the machine automated controller and accessed through the Soft-NA HMI. A built-in recipe manager is a necessary tool and does not require any external database connection for the system. Engineers can create and save recipes that are accessible to any user with the properly granted security permissions. The recipe parameters included such set points as temperature, ultrasonic variability, chemical spike SP (L), timers and much more.


The systems’ end user oversees a team of employees working with the system, ranging from operators to senior engineers. NeoMatrix added security levels to individual screens, buttons, and acknowledging alarms. This security is vital for safety and traceability.

HMI Graphics

Traditional HMI screens have existed for a long time, but they tend to be inefficient, confusing and a time pit. Utilizing a 19.5” Hope industrial PC running Omron’s Soft NA software, NeoMatrix designed a “High Performance HMI”. By standardizing objects, simplifying the use of color and other tactics, the new age of HMI screens is efficient and intuitive.

The Results

NeoMatrix and Wafer Process Systems delivered a turnkey R&D etching tool with the capability to run the maximum number of wafers through the tool in a single cycle. All 5 chemical baths, 4 deionized water baths and 2 Isopropyl alcohol dryers have fully automated capabilities. The bulk waste cabinet was integrated using Ether CAT communication to the main cabinet, with the ability to perform automated waste collection routines. Working with an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) such as Wafer Process Systems allowed NeoMatrix to handle all programming, while WPS fabricated a state-of-the-art machine.

The etching system is used in an R&D environment that has ever evolving needs. Utilizing the software standards architecture, NeoMatrix can quickly modify and add to the programming. The power behind this approach is undoubtedly seen when change orders are requested, both in time and cost.

We’ve mastered creating scalable, reliable industrial automation and information solutions.

How can we help you make your operation more efficient and profitable?


About NeoMatrix

Leading with our client-first approach for over 20 years, NeoMatrix helps manufacturers design, implement and sustain plant automation systems, digital transformation strategies and MES solutions that improve operational efficiencies and reduce costs.

We’re experienced with factory automation solutions that support a variety of industry applications, including Allen-Bradley Rockwell and Inductive Automation. NeoMatrix has been a Premier Ignition Integrator since 2016. Serving the New England area and beyond with locations in Andover, MA and Portsmouth, NH.

About Wafer Process Systems

Wafer Process Systems Inc. is a manufacturer of manual, semi-automated and fully-automated dry In /
dry out wet benches and wet chemical process equipment used in the manufacturing of microelectronic
devices, MEMS devices, computer disc drive media and slider assemblies, flat panel displays and
photovoltaic products. Process applications include Surface Pre Cleans for Oxide and Metal Deposition
(SC1 and SC2), Oxide Resist Strip (H2SO4/H202), Metal Resist Strip (Organic Solvent Chemistries), Metal
Etch (Au, Cu, CR, Al), Nitride Strip, Buffered Oxide Etch, Electroless Chemical Deposition and
Electrochemical Deposition and Conveyorized Spray Etch systems. All Equipment designs are compatible for use in a Class 10 Clean Room Environment.