In engineering, a process is a series of interrelated tasks that, together, transform inputs into a given output. These tasks may be carried out by people, nature or machines using various resources; an engineering process must be considered in the context of the agents carrying out the tasks and the resource attributes involved. Systems engineering normative documents and those related to Maturity Models are typically based on processes, for example, systems engineering processes of the EIA-632 and processes involved in the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) institutionalization and improvement approach. Constraints imposed on the tasks and resources required to implement them are essential for executing the tasks mentioned.
Semiconductor process engineers face the unique challenge of transforming raw materials into high-tech devices. Common semiconductor devices include Integrated Circuits (ICs), Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs), solar cells, and solid-state lasers. To produce these and other semiconductor devices, semiconductor process engineers rely heavily on interconnected physical and chemical processes.
A prominent example of these combined processes is the use of ultra-violet photolithography which is then followed by wet etching, the process of creating an IC pattern that is transferred onto an organic coating and etched onto the underlying semiconductor chip. Other examples include the ion implantation of dopant species to tailor the electrical properties of a semiconductor chip and the electrochemical deposition of metallic interconnects (e.g. electroplating). Process Engineers are generally involved in the development, scaling, and quality control of new semiconductor processes from lab bench to manufacturing floor.
A chemical process is a series of unit operations used to produce a material in large quantities.
In the chemical industry, chemical engineers will use the following to define or illustrate a process:
The Association Française d'Ingénierie Système has developed a process definition dedicated to Systems engineering (SE), but open to all domains. The CPRET representation integrates the process Mission and Environment in order to offer an external standpoint. Several models may correspond to a single definition depending on the language used (UML or another language). Note: process definition and modeling are interdependent notions but different the one from the other.
This definition requires a process description to include the Constraints, Products, Resources, Input Elements and Transformations. This leads to the CPRET acronym to be used as name and mnemonic for this definition.
The purpose of the following examples is to illustrate the definitions with concrete cases. These examples come from the Engineering field but also from other fields to show that the CPRET definition of processes is not limited to the System Engineering context.
Examples of processes
Examples of environment
Examples of mission
Examples of constraints
Examples of products
Examples of resources
Examples of elements as inputs
Examples of transformations
The CPRET formalized definition systematically addresses the input Elements, Transformations, and Products but also the other essential components of a Process, namely the Constraints and Resources. Among the resources, note the specificity of the Resource-Time component which passes inexorably and irreversibly, with problems of synchronization and sequencing.
This definition states that environment is an external factor which cannot be avoided: as a matter of fact, a process is always interdependent with other phenomena including other processes.
Gilb, Tom (2005). Competitive Engineering. Burlington MA: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 0-7506-6507-6.