Industry News, Trends and Technology, and Standards Updates

18th Innovation Forum for Automation: Successful Transition of an Important Tradition

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations on Mar 17, 2021 1:45:00 PM

Dresden-christmas-marketNear the end of January for almost two decades, the companies that form the Automation Network Dresden (AND) have hosted a gathering of semiconductor automation professionals in the picturesque setting of Dresden, Germany. The chill of winter during this event has always been in stark contrast to the warmth of the reception the speakers and participants enjoy at this event. The big question this year was “how could the organizers possibly maintain this tradition amid the COVID-19 pandemic and its travel restrictions?"

Automation people being a creative bunch, they responded by offering a series of free, half-day “digital events” spread across the first four months of the year, and each hosted by one of the AND member companies: SYSTEMA, Fabmatics, XENON, and Kontron AIS. The first two sessions are now in the record books, and as a participant in both, I can attest that no momentum or value has been lost. The only exception is the lack of the forum’s famous evening event, which will undoubtedly return next year when the virus is behind us.

The first session of the year was hosted by SYSTEMA on January 28 with the theme of Datafication and Automation: The new normal for semiconductor manufacturing. I was privileged to among the invited speakers, and shared the agenda with Manfred Austen of SYSTEMA (always a hard act to follow!), Jean-Marc Philippe of ST/Micro Singapore, Axel Wogawa of SYSTEMA, and Klaus Kleilein of Fabmatics.

In this context, I chose the topic of semiconductor backend automation, and you can download my presentation “Wafer Fab Best Practices for Backend Automation”. Key takeaways from this presentation include the industry drivers for higher levels of backend automation, the unique challenges this poses when compared to wafer fab automation (see the figure highlighting multiple material transformations below), the role that industry standards in many categories will play in this process, and last but not least, the importance of defining explicit integration message sequences between all the equipment and the factory systems that bring them together into fully automated operations. This latter insight was one of the key enablers for the wafer fab transition from 200mm to 300mm, and the concept equally applies in the backend.

18-innovations-forum-pic1The second event in the series was hosted by Fabmatics on February 25, 2021, with the enticing theme of Forever Young: Automation Makeover Rejuvenates Golden Age Fabs. It featured speakers from Bosch, Nexperia, Cohu, and SYSTEMA.

The next event will be hosted by Xenon on March 25, 2021 with the theme Digitalization Meets Mechanical Engineering, and the final event hosted by Kontron AIS on April 29, 2021 (theme still TBD – stay tuned). For more information about this digital event series, visit the Automation Network Dresden website.

For help in crafting and executing your own backend automation strategy, or any other topic related to advanced manufacturing connectivity and control, please contact us by clicking the button below. 

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Topics: Industry Highlights, Events, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

SEMICON China 2021 is coming up next week!

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Mar 9, 2021 7:00:00 PM

Read the pre-show blog of the SEMICON China 2021 show today. Read it now in Chinese or below in English.

Semicon-china-2021-blog

SEMICON China 2021将于2021年3月17日至19日在上海新国际博览中心举办。矽美科公司将一如既往的参加,希望在展会上和你们相遇!

如果您也在此展会,欢迎您光临我们位于N3-3157号展位。我们将展出GEM和EDA/Interface A产品以及我们的智能工厂平台。

SEMICON China将我们和世界上发展最快、最具活力的微电子市场联系在一起,并为参展商提供了一个为中国最专业的人士展示我们的产品和技术的平台。

在我们为展会做准备的过程中,我们欢迎任何会议邀约,无论是在线的还是具体地点面对面的,请单击下面的按钮预约。如果您也参与展会,我们随时恭候您光临我们的展位。希望我们很快能见面!

Schedule a Meeting


Semicon-china-2021-blog

SEMICON China 2021, an in-person, is taking place March 17-19, 2021 at the Shanghai New International Expo Center. Cimetrix Incorporated will be exhibiting and we hope to see many of you there!

If you are able to be at the exhibition during this time, we encourage you to visit Cimetrix Incorporated at booth N3 3157. We will be featuring our GEM and EDA/Interface A products as well as our Smart Factory Platform.

SEMICON China connects people in the world’s fastest growing and most dynamic microelectronics market and gives exhibitors the platform to showcase our products and technologies in front of the most qualified audience of industry professionals in China.

As we prepare for the show, we welcome any meeting requests, both virtual or in-person depending on location, by clicking the button below. Or if you are able to be in Shanghai during SEMICON, we look forward to you dropping by our booth at any time. We hope to meet with you soon!

Schedule a Meeting

Topics: Industry Highlights, Semiconductor Industry, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Events, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

Technologies Unite Global Summit is Almost Here!

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Feb 9, 2021 8:30:00 AM

tech-unite

SEMI Europa is sponsoring a new event – Technologies Unite Global Summit – and we are excited to announce that Cimetrix Incorporated will have a virtual booth at this online event on 15-19 February, 2021. 

Technologies Unite Global Summit brings together the global microelectronics supply chain, manufacturers, and the end users for this digital experience that spotlights digital transformation and microelectronics industry innovation and growth. This summit will feature eight forums presenting the latest innovations, as well as seven pavilions from around the world where exhibitors and attendees can connect with the global SEMI community.

After a year of cancelled and postponed in-person events, we are happy to participate in these virtual events that gives all of a us a chance to re-connect with our global communities. Be sure to register for and attend this brand new event and be sure to stop by our booth!

Thomas Simon, the General Manager of our Europe office will be available during booth hours to host discussions about all of our products, and particularly our Cimetrix Sapience® Smart Factory Platform.

We hope to see you there. You can contact our team any time to schedule a demo or make an appointment by clicking the button below.

Contact Us

Topics: Industry Highlights, Semiconductor Industry, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Events, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

Cimetrix Incorporated is a Utah Top Workplace

Posted by Brice Laris MPC, CPLP; Human Resources Manager on Jan 12, 2021 11:59:00 AM

utah-top-workplaces-2020

In December, 2020, Cimetrix Incorporated was honored as a Utah Top Workplace by the Salt Lake Tribune.

The Salt Lake Tribune partnered with Philadephia-based Energage to rank the Top Workplaces in Utah. Energage surveyed workers from over 1,300 Utah companies on a variety of topics to rate their workplace. Out of this pool, just 100 companies were selected as Utah Top Workplaces. Companies were then placed in categories by number of employees. Cimetrix was ranked 12th out of the 45 finalist companies in the “small business category”.

At Cimetrix, we believe the key to a successful business is having a values based culture that focuses on ensuring our customer’s success and having everyone in alignment. Employees need to be doing a job they love, working on something they are passionate about and being rewarded for contributing to the company’s success.

We are honored that Cimetrix employees feel so passionate about the culture we’ve built that we were selected at a Utah Top Workplace for 2020.

While we were recently acquired and will now operate as the Cimetrix Connectivity Group within PDF Solutions, that doesn’t change our commitment to employees, culture and the core values that have made us successful. Employees drive our success and we look forward to a 2021 filled with new opportunities and potential.

Topics: Partners, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Cimetrix Company Culture, Events

SEMICON Japan 2020 is Going Virtual!

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Dec 7, 2020 5:30:00 PM

SEMICON Japan 2020 is going virtual and we will be there! You can read about it now in Japanese or below in English.

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今年のSEMICON JapanはCovid 19の世界的大流行の影響もあり、仮想環境での開催となりました。Cimetrix Incorporatedは12月14〜17日の4日間バーチャルブースに出展致しますので、皆様のご来訪を心よりお待ちしております。

日本では現在、半導体製造装置の3分の1と材料の半分以上を世界の半導体製造業界に供給しています。 世界がよりスマートになるにつれて、革新的なソリューションとテクノロジーがこのような大きな展示会で紹介され続けています。

Cimetrixは、GEM機器の接続と制御、およびEDA /interfaceA活用して装置データの収集、提供を行う事が出来ます。

Cimetrix Sapienceは、単一のイベント駆動型フレームワーク内でさまざまな工場設備をシームレスに接続するスマートファクトリープラットフォームです。 Sapienceプラットフォームにより、工場のITシステムは工場の機器に直接アクセスでき、その結果として生じる機器の通信、データ収集、およびプロセス制御により、インダストリー4.0、ビッグデータ、およびスマートファクトリーのイニシアチブの基盤が確立されます。

もし別途ご相談いただければ、デモンストレーションを行う事も出来ますので、お気軽にご連絡ください。

それでは2020年の最後のSEMICONショーにて皆様に会える事を心から楽しみにしています。

Meet with Us


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After Cancelling the show several months ago in Tokyo, due in part to the Covid 19 world-wide pandemic, SEMICON Japan reconsidered and decided to go forward with the Exposition in a virtual environment. Cimetrix Incorporated (now a part of PDF Solutions) is proud and excited to be participating with a virtual booth on the 14-17 of December and we hope to see many of you there!

Japan supplies one third of the equipment and more than half of all materials to the global semiconductor manufacturing industry. As the world gets smarter, innovative solutions and technologies continue to be introduced at big shows like this.

We will be able to schedule demos of our GEM equipment connectivity and control software solutions, as well as our EDA/Interface A products.

The Cimetrix Sapience platform will also be available for a demonstration by visiting our virtual booth to make an appointment with our team. Sapience is the Smart Factory Platform that seamlessly connects varying factory equipment within a single event-driven framework. The Sapience platform allows factory IT systems direct access to factory equipment, and the resulting equipment communication, data collection and process control establishes the foundation for Industry 4.0, Big Data and Smart Factory initiatives.

We encourage you to join the Cimetrix Japan team at our virtual booth at this last SEMICON show of 2020. We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy, and hope to see you soon!

To schedule a demo prior to the show, click the button below.

Meet with Us

 

Topics: Semiconductor Industry, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Events, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

PDF Solutions to Acquire Smart Manufacturing and Factory Connectivity Expert Cimetrix

Posted by Cimetrix on Nov 19, 2020 2:00:00 PM

Acquisition Provides Potential of Unrivaled Intelligence for Semiconductor, Packaging, and Electronics Manufacturing

PDF Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ: PDFS) today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Cimetrix Incorporated. The combination of Cimetrix® connectivity products and platforms with PDF Solutions’ Exensio® analytics platform powered by machine learning, is intended to enable IC, assembly, and electronics manufacturer customers to extract more intelligence – not just data – from their factory floor, to build more reliable ICs and systems at lower manufacturing costs.

“Cimetrix is excited to join the PDF Solutions team. Our two companies share the vision and commitment to provide a smart manufacturing platform that seamlessly connects high quality data from the factory floor to cloud based analytics platforms,” said Bob Reback, Chairman, President, and CEO at Cimetrix. “We believe this combination will provide tremendous opportunities for Cimetrix customers to benefit from the cloud, AI/ML, and analytics capabilities from PDF Solutions, and PDF customers will benefit from higher quality data originating from the factory floor using Cimetrix’s connectivity products and platforms.”

To read more, please view press release here.

 

Topics: Industry Highlights, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Investor News

Thinking Ahead: Why would I want to buy EDA client libraries for my equipment?

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations on Nov 11, 2020 11:30:00 AM

Background and Audience

Over the past several years, I have written numerous blog postings heralding the benefits of the SEMI Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA, also known as Interface A) standards, promoting their adoption by 300mm wafer fabs around the world, explaining how to develop robust purchase specs to ensure the interfaces delivered by the equipment suppliers meet the fab customers’ expectations, describing how the various components of the standards work together and the importance of the embedded equipment model, and finally explaining how to run compliance and performance tests on an EDA interface to validate its fitness for production use. The target audience for most of these postings has been the factory users, for they are the ones who increasingly depend on detailed equipment and process data to profitably run their enterprises.

By contrast, this posting is aimed at the equipment suppliers who are looking to increase the value of their product families by augmenting their hardware offerings with software capabilities that only they are uniquely qualified to provide.

This is not a new idea. Several major equipment suppliers have offered so-called “Equipment Engineering Systems (EES)” products as companions for their equipment over the years, providing applications like Fault Detection and Classification (FDC), production monitoring, maintenance management, local repositories for diagnostics and field support, and other capabilities that leveraged deep domain knowledge of the equipment. However, these systems necessarily relied on private interfaces to the equipment for their data, such as an additional network connection, direct access to the file system, or other mechanisms. And from the fab’s perspective, these constituted yet another piece of infrastructure to maintain.

Now there’s EDA: a key enabler for value-added equipment applications

Since the SEMI EDA standards are inherently multi-client, a single EDA interface can support not only the factory information and control systems that depend on equipment data, it can also provide whatever information a supplier-specific application may need as long this data is represented in the equipment metadata model. Since that model is designed by the equipment suppliers as a fundamental component of the EDA interface, they can choose to put as much information in these model as they want, possibly well beyond that required by the fab customers’ purchase specifications. In fact, these models could be used to implement the diagnostic logging capability that suppliers usually build into their equipment for their own use, but without requiring custom software to read and interpret that information. See the figure below for an example of such a configuration.

EDA-Equipment-1The EDA standards also include a provision for “built-in DCPs” (DCP = Data Collection Plan) which can be shipped with the equipment and protected from accidental deletion at the factory site. These DCPs could be crafted by the equipment supplier to directly feed whatever value-added applications the supplier chose to develop, whether these resided on a computer local to the equipment in the fab, on portable computers used by field service engineers to diagnose problems, or on remote cloud-based systems allowed to connect via secure EDA-defined URLs. This flexibility opens up a wide range of application types, from those that embed equipment-specific algorithms to generic Machine Learning frameworks… the possibilities are endless.

What all these approaches have in common is a standard EDA client capability that can establish a session with the equipment, activate Data Collection Plans, and receive the ensuing Data Reports. The Cimetrix EDAConnect product provides all these features and more in a lightweight set of .NET libraries which can be deployed wherever they are needed to consume EDA data.

Conclusion

More and more semiconductor factories are requiring EDA interfaces with their new equipment purchases with highly prescribed equipment models and demanding performance criteria. From the equipment supplier’s perspective, these requirements have been viewed as a source of additional cost, with all the benefit accruing to the factory customers. But it doesn’t have to be that way…

Why not take advantage of this interface to offer additional value using a standards-based approach? This just might be an idea whose time has finally come. If you agree, give us a call – we can help you make it happen!

Topics: Industry Highlights, Semiconductor Industry, EDA/Interface A, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Standards

Cimetrix Book Club: "The Art of Unit Testing"

Posted by Westley Kirkham; QE Engineer on Oct 27, 2020 10:56:00 AM

Cimetrix-book-club-1Today’s blog posting highlights the latest and most recent activity with the Cimetrix Book Club. Our employees constantly strive to develop their skills, share information, and keep up to date with the industry. Part of this effort includes an employee book club that involves many of our team members each month, and from time to time we cover some of their favorites here on our blog!

Today's book is titled "The Art of Unit Testing" by Roy Osherove. The book review is by Westley Kirkham, a Quality Engineer based in Salt Lake City, UT, USA.

“The Art of Unit Testing” guides the reader step by step from writing the first simple tests to developing robust test sets that are trustworthy, maintainable and readable.

In the first section, Osherove explains what a unit test is, the properties of good unit tests, and why they are so important. The lion's share is dedicated to the nitty-gritty of writing and maintaining unit tests specifically, and testing suites generally. The first part of the section goes in depth to show how Mocks, Stubs and Isolation frameworks are used to test your code. The last section discusses how to deal with resistance to change from co-workers and management if you're trying to introduce Test-Driven Development or Agile methodologies, as well as how to deal with legacy code. Osherove also shares his insights on what tools he believes are the best aids in unit testing. ReSharper is one of his favorites, but he also reviews Nsubstitute, Moq, CodeRush and others.
book-club-art-of-unit-testing

One section that stood out to our team was Osherove's three pillars of a good unit test—trustworthiness, maintainability, and readability.

Trustworthy tests are up-to-date, simple and correct. There are no duplicate tests, and they do not test any old functionality or functionality that has been removed. The unit test only tests one item and doesn't conflict with other tests. The bugs the test finds are actual bugs in the code, and not bugs in the test.

Maintainable tests are flexible, and don't break with each minor change to the product. The tests are isolated. They are not over-specified and they are parameterized.

Readable tests are easy to understand and do not require the developer or tester who comes after you to spend extra time understanding what you've written. The test names are descriptive, and the asserts are meaningful. Any failures or issues caught will lead the developer in the right direction.

These three pillars should apply to all that we write, not just tests.

At Cimetrix, much of what Osherove teaches is already integrated into our engineering culture. As part of our implementation of Agile, developers write unit tests to verify that the functionality they have coded is correct. It is then reviewed by another developer and a member of the QE team to ensure that common use cases and important edge cases are covered and that the functionality is complete. All code must follow naming conventions and styles verified through ReSharper. For all of our products, unit tests are run on each build, and integration tests are run nightly.

Osherove's lessons on unit testing implementation, testing suite organization, and test-driven development integration are simple and practical. This book would benefit any team looking to improve the fidelity of its software products and the efficiency of its engineers.

Topics: Cimetrix Company Culture, Programming Tools, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Book Club

Track Material More Intelligently Using These Factory Automation Principles

Posted by Rich Kingsford; Project Manager, CCF Services on Oct 21, 2020 11:05:00 AM

Tracking material is essential.

Tracking material is essential, especially when you're trying to mitigate risks and diagnose malfunctions. I was impressed at a recent project where our CCF Services’ customer envisioned some colorful and contextual operator interface (OI) controls. Let's explore them.

Colors and icons to emphasize info

We've always used colors to denote the status of material in the equipment, e.g. Needs Processing, In Process, Processed, etc. But this customer used a color legend and a wider range of colors to help the operator more easily track material in realtime. We used color vibrancy (e.g. bright colors or dull colors) to draw attention or soften attention, depending on how important the datum.

ccfblog3.1.1"What about color blindness?"

  • While our customer chose not to bother with color blindness, other customers prefer to use icons or patterned backgrounds in their schema, to aid those who are colorblind.
  • We also display the state as a text string, making it even harder to misinterpret, while maintaining the visual.

"What about E95 standards and other important factory standards?"

  • Our standards experts, Brian, reminded us that there are no constraints in the color department

 

Don't bother me with a small details

Our customer wanted to regularly demonstrate our progress to their directors and executives. But these audience members weren't very technical. Khoi, our OI designer, created a pretty cool bird's-eye view of the equipment with its numerous material locations. We used colors in the bird's eye view to help the non-technical folks understand where material was at in the equipment and the condition of the material. (We joked about adding disco lights too. And Easter eggs.)

CCF-tracking-materials3.2

 

Mirroring physical location

We’ve always visually grouped similar components together, but we took physical layout to the next level on this project by turning some of our tables sideways to simulate the physical tool more accurately (a boat tool). We also made a few pyramids to simulate the locations of the physical components. This makes it easier to visualize how the different parts of the machine work together. Matching the real-world positions, one can more easily anticipate the material flow. Additionally, we displayed all the information on a single screen so the user no longer has to scroll horizontally or vertically to see the various components.

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Anticipating operator needs (and possible blunders)

When designing the OI for this project, we wanted to explore ways we could anticipate the operator’s typical and atypical actions (sometimes called happy path and edge cases). If we can understand the operator’s intentions, we can build in mechanisms that prevent risk of damage or getting stuck. We can also build in contingency mechanisms, such as errors, that will make malfunctions easier to diagnose. An example of a prevention mechanism we used on this project was context-sensitive buttons (e.g. disabled under some circumstances) so as to prevent the user from erroneously clicking a control. We also built additional confirmation mechanisms (e.g. a confirmation before discarding a manual change).

Conclusion

We value these 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design as well as other widely accepted usability principles. Intelligent usability mechanisms are usually simple to implement, but often get ignored. A little extra attention in this department can save many hours and even days of debugging time. A more usable Operator Interface is also more likely to impress your stakeholders!

What usability mechanisms have you used recently?

What types of things confuse your machine operators?

What types of bugs are the most time consuming for your development team to resolve?

To find out more about CIMControlFramework and our CCF Services team, or to contact us for a demo, click the button below.

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Topics: Equipment Control-Software Products, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Meet Our Team

Meet the CCF Services Team - Richard Andrew

Posted by Cimetrix on Oct 7, 2020 12:45:00 PM

Richard Andrew-2Meet Richard Andrew, CCF Services Software Engineer at Cimetrix. Read on to learn a little bit more about Richard.

How long have you worked at Cimetrix?

I have been working at Cimetrix for just over two years now.

When did you graduate and what degree did you get?

I graduated from Utah Valley University with a Bachelor's of Science in Computer Science.

What drew you to Cimetrix originally?

I wanted to work on fun tools and equipment, and get to control robots!

What is your role at Cimetrix currently?

I am a Software Engineer on the CCF (CIMControlFramework) Services Team.

What do you think it means to a client to have a great CCF services team?

Having a great CCF services team means clients can either have Cimetrix do part or all of a project  and trust that it will accomplish what they need and they won’t have to worry about it. We value being able to give our clients peace of mind.

What do you like best about the work you do at Cimetrix?

I like the fulfillment I get when our customers are happy with our software and the work we do on our Services team.

What is something you’ve learned while working at Cimetrix?

I’ve learned how to be a better developer and how to work on various projects to accomplish unique goals. I’ve learned how to talk with clients, understand their needs and train them on how to best utilize our software.

What is one of the hardest challenges you’ve been faced with at Cimetrix and how did you overcome the challenge?

Becoming Microsoft certified required a lot of dedication and effort both in the office and outside.  It was like going to school full time and working full time at the same time.  I overcame it through dedicated studying, spending the time required, and taking lots of practice tests!

What is your favorite vacation spot?

I like to go fishing up in Alaska.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to play softball, play games, and spend times outdoors.

Topics: Doing Business with Cimetrix, Cimetrix Company Culture, Meet Our Team