Many applications in the semiconductor industry require solutions to control potential leaks and spills. With certain measures aimed at protecting components from liquids or fluids, semiconductor manufacturers can ensure the reliable and efficient operation of their equipment and reduce the risk of costly unplanned downtime.
What Is Secondary Containment?
Secondary containment refers to the use of barriers or containment systems to control the spread of liquids and fluids in case of a primary container leak or spill. This is particularly important in the semiconductor manufacturing industry, where the accidental release of liquid or fluid substances used in production processes can have serious environmental, safety and productivity consequences.
Semiconductor Applications and Managing Risks
Manufacturing processes in the semiconductor industry often involve solvents, acids and toxic gases. Managing the risks that these chemicals pose to human health, the environment and equipment requires great care, as well as adherence to the regulations set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA, for example, requires a spill containment program when there is a possibility of a hazardous leak or spill that could threaten the environment or an employee.
Proper containment systems in the semiconductor manufacturing setting are integral in order to avoid disruption or malfunction of critical machinery and equipment and other safety risks.
The following are some semiconductor applications that require cable protection to guard against leaks and spills:
The semiconductor industry utilizes a range of chemicals in its manufacturing processes that can put components at risk. For instance, potential exposure to harsh chemicals during the wafer cleaning process can damage wires and cables. For these types of manufacturing processes, secondary leak control is an important consideration to prevent chemicals from coming into contact with components in order to maintain system integrity and smooth operation of equipment.
Clean Room Applications
In a semiconductor fab, extremely detailed processes and controlled environments are essential to produce wafers. Clean rooms, for instance, help control static, particulate matter, outgassing and other sources of contamination that can compromise the product. Secondary leak control is another risk mitigation measure to prevent leaks and spills from coming into contact with sensitive equipment and causing incidents, such as wafer-handling equipment malfunction, pressure malfunction and power glitches.
Cooling systems maintain the temperature of equipment and processes in the semiconductor industry. However, leaks or spills from these systems can cause damage or failure to equipment close by. To mitigate leaks, semiconductor manufacturers can deploy a leak diverter sleeve to immediately capture, confine and redirect liquids or fluids. By preventing the liquid from spreading, this measure reduces the likelihood of contact with sensitive equipment, which could cause short circuits, electrical damage or contamination.
Did you know?
|Next to a safety or environmental mishap, unplanned downtime costs industrial manufacturers as much as $50 billion annually. Moreover, the average manufacturer encounters 800 hours of equipment downtime per year, which is more than 15 hours per week.
Ways to Protect Sensitive Equipment from Leaks and Spills
- Assess the situation: evaluate the severity of the leak and its potential impact on nearby equipment. Identify the substance involved and consider factors such as toxicity, flammability and corrosiveness.
- Isolate the source: if it is safe to do so, identify and isolate the source of the leak. This may involve shutting off valves, closing access points or activating emergency shutdown systems.
- Control the spread: implement measures to prevent the spread of the leaked substance to nearby equipment. This can include using containment barriers such as berms, spill pallets, drains seals and absorbents to confine the leaked substance and prevent it from reaching sensitive equipment.
- Utilize secondary containment systems: if available, activate or implement secondary containment systems designed to capture or redirect leaked substances, such as protective leak diversion sleeves. Products made with PVC-coated or silicone-coated materials are resistant to a range of chemicals and liquids.
- Monitor and assess: continuously monitor the situation and assess the effectiveness of the secondary leak control measures. Adjust or modify the strategies as necessary based on the changing conditions or expert recommendations.
- Conduct inspections and preventative maintenance: regularly inspect equipment for signs of leaks or spills and administer preventive maintenance to ensure that equipment is in good working condition. This will help identify potential issues before they cause damage to sensitive equipment or other nearby components.
To help control the damaging effects of spills or leaks, semiconductor manufacturers also utilize moisture sensors and gas sensors to assist with environmental monitoring. In addition to these sensors, an emergency response plan is necessary to quickly and effectively respond to accidents. This plan should be well-defined and include procedures for containing the spill, notifying appropriate personnel, and minimizing the risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals.