While semiconductor front end automation took place years ago, the back end test floor material handling is still barely automated. The semiconductor back end has had to deal with a variety of different package types and form factors, resulting in different transport media, such as a bulk, tube metal magazine, tray and reel. Even though SEMI has started to standardize this media, there are still many different form factors to consider. This has made it impossible to come up with a global material loading and unloading standard for all equipment. To offset this lack of automation, and still achieve their cost targets, semiconductor manufacturers moved back end test operations into countries with low labor costs.
After decades of just talking about backend automation, there are now signs on the horizon that the industry is getting serious about automating the backend test floor. This presentation will analyze what mechanisms are driving this trend to automation and what conditions changed to generate the current momentum. It will further show how the suppliers and some test floor managers are preparing for this process enhancement.