SCOUT provides the flexible and automated transport of materials in semiconductor factories and other clean production environments. It is capable not only of moving objects, but also loading and unloading them autonomously. “SCOUT is an active system, which frees operators from transportation tasks and the handling of materials,” Dr. Karli Hantzschmann, Division Manager in Automation at Roth & Rau – Ortner says. “Thus, the staff can fully focus on fabrication, which significantly improves the fab’s efficiency and lowers production costs.”

SCOUT triax – the Specialist for Autonomous Handling

SCOUT triax features a 3-axis handling unit that allows movements in three directions, which is particularly important for the autonomous handling in various grip heights of up to 1.7 meters (5 feet, 6.9 inches). At its booth, Roth & Rau – Ortner will present SCOUT triax in an application for the semiconductor industry, and demonstrate the automated transport of photomasks, also known as reticles. SCOUT triax picks up the transport containers, the reticle pods, off the load port at the reticle stocker, transports them to the scanner and places them onto the exact spot of a defined location. “With the rising diversity of products in the factory, the potential to reduce cost through automation of reticle handling increases, because the photomasks have to be exchanged a lot more frequently in the lithographic tools,” Hantzschmann says.

Individually Extendable

The clean room robot SCOUT is capable of moving materials and products between various locations within the factory, handling a variety of payloads or carrying out measurements. SCOUT is of practical use in any production facility where a rail- or conveyor-system is not feasible or would be too costly and time-consuming to install. “Thanks to its compact size and reliable sensor technology, SCOUT can be used safely in areas where people and machines work closely together,” Hantzschmann says. “With various system extensions for transport and handling of diverse payloads, SCOUT can be adjusted to different conditions according to the desired use.”

Adaptation to Trends in Semiconductor Production

Since launching its first SCOUT robot, Roth & Rau – Ortner has significantly expanded the SCOUT product line. The company has improved SCOUT active, which had been presented at the SEMICON Europe 2013. The Dresden automation experts optimized SCOUT active for its application in semiconductor fabs; it is now capable of placing wafer-cassettes tilted 90-degrees in order to position them for horizontal processing. 

The robot navigates autonomously and does not require any guiding system neither on the floor nor on the ceiling. Via WiFi and a graphical user interface, new transport tasks can be generated and important status information such as the robot’s current location in the factory are displayed. SCOUT is cleanroom suitable up to ISO class 3 / US FED class 1 and has more than 5,000 km of autonomous navigation in clean rooms, which proves its reliability. The first models of SCOUT triax and SCOUT active have already been sold.

Robots for other Branches

Responding to a customer request, Roth & Rau – Ortner developed the SCOUT substrate. It was designed to safely move very large glass substrates of up to 70 x 70 centimeters in an ultra clean production environment. This particular substrate is very sensitive; it can only be touched at the outer edges. Therefore, SCOUT is loaded and unloaded by other robots. “This exemplifies SCOUT’s adaptability to diverse requirements,” Hantzschmann says. “Customer-specific solutions are possible for each individual case.”

Development continues

Currently, the automation experts at Roth & Rau – Ortner are working on SCOUT roro. Scout roro works like a double-ended ferry: the items to be moved are automatically rolled onto the robot, transported from port-to-port and then get automatically unloaded at their final destination. “This is a cost-effective solution for many branches to automate transport processes,” Hantzschmann says.          

SCOUT is an integral part of Roth & Rau – Ortner’s “Missing Link” concept, which covers custom-tailored automation solutions for existing semiconductor fabs and other clean or near-clean production environments. The product particularly addresses manufacturing sites with partially automated production: Many older factories continue to manually handle materials between the different manufacturing steps. “Manually handling materials between manufacturing steps binds valuable workforce, consumes time, causes significant cost and is prone to errors,” Hantzschmann says. “Roth & Rau – Ortner offers custom-tailored technology for manufacturing lines to carry out material transport and handling, thus increasing a factory’s’ competitiveness.”