A wafer processing cluster tool, having one or more load-locks, is provided with one or more batch preheating modules that receive wafers only from the cluster tool transport module at the internal vacuum pressure of the machine. The loading, unloading, handling and processing of wafers in the machine can occur while other wafers are being preheated. The preheat module has a vertically moveable rack and is loaded with various sized batches of wafers with no vacant positions between them. Wafer shaped shields may occupy positions adjacent top and bottom wafers to cause them to heat the same as other wafers in the rack. Infrared lamps positioned outside of quartz windows heat wafers in the preheat module. The rack may rotate to improve heating uniformity. Temperature sensors, such as pyrometers, that do not contact the wafers being preheated, measure temperature for control of the heating of the lamps.