Industry News, Trends and Technology, and Standards Updates

Meet the Front Office Team: Jake Strong

Posted by Cimetrix on Jun 12, 2019 11:30:00 AM

cimetrix-jake-strong-controllerIt's time to meet the folks that keep Cimetrix running - our Front Office team! Meet Jake Strong,  Cimetrix Controller. Read on to learn a little bit more about Jake.

How long have you worked at Cimetrix?

I've been at Cimetrix for 4 years and 4 months.

What is your role at Cimetrix?

Controller

What drew you to Cimetrix originally?

I was coming from a company where my role was highly specialized and I was looking to work for a company where I could have a more involved and comprehensive role in the accounting department. Cimetrix provided me with that opportunity. In addition, once I had my first interview, I was immediately drawn in by the friendliness of the admin team and impressiveness of the executive team.

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

I really enjoy the people with whom I work. I also enjoy that my position enables me to work with all of the other departments within Cimetrix; that gives me the opportunity to work with nearly every employee and to be involved with all aspects of the company.

What do you find to be most challenging about your job?

A result of working in a role that touches so many other parts of the company is that I frequently come up against projects that are unrelated to any of my previous work experience. However, this has enabled me to gain a lot of valuable exposure to areas beyond just accounting and to develop critical thinking and research skills that will serve me in all of my professional life.  

What are your top 3 favorite books and/or movies?

Ever since streaming TV took off I have been watching fewer and fewer movies. So, I’ll give you my top 3 TV series: Seinfeld, Game of Thrones and VEEP.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to be outdoors as much as possible. During the summer I spend a lot of time at the pool or paddle boarding at the lake with my wife and 3 kids. We also like to camp, hike and explore all of the amazing state and national parks that Utah has to offer; in the winter I snowboard while I wait for summer to start again. I also like to gather around good food and sporting events with my family and friends.

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

Cimetrix Book Club: "Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams" by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory

Posted by Morgan Kap; QE Engineer on Jun 5, 2019 10:30:00 AM

Cimetrix-book-club-1Today we are introducing the Cimetrix Book Club on our blog. Our employees are always striving 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. We will cover some of their favorites from time-to-time here on our blog!

Today's book is called "Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams" by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory, two of the industry’s most experienced agile testing practitioners and consultants. The book review is by Morgan Kap, a QE Engineer based in Salt Lake City, UT, USA.Agile-testing-bookclub-1This book on agile testing is a great high-level explanation of how testing fits into an agile development team. The focus of this book is on how to successfully transition a team to an agile methodology, or to create a new QE/testing team in an agile methodology. While our team was already practicing agile before we read the book, it had quite a bit of valuable knowledge that led our team to make changes in how we tackle daily testing tasks.

One of the main changes we made immediately was to slightly restructure our team, and we have become a more effective team as a result. This book on Agile Testing is full of real-world stories of testing success and failures. These stories show the importance of techniques and tools, outlined for easy understanding in the book, for developing an efficient and complete testing process.

Some of the major focus points include being test driven during development and the many benefits this can create for all types of projects. Another focus details the many ways a software product should be tested; from security to usability. There is even a chapter focusing on how an office’s culture can have an impact on testing. This topic led to our team to try a few new things to make our culture more fun and interesting. This now includes having rubber ducks on every desk - that's a long-story, but we love it.

Overall, "Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams" by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory, is a great starting point for those quality engineering teams that searching for ideas and way to improve and understand many of the important aspects of testing software. 

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

Cimetrix had a great showing at SEMICON Southeast Asia!

SEMICON-SEA-Asia-2018Cimetrix just finished exhibiting at SEMICON Southeast Asia for the first time. And a grand entrance it was. Located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this is one of the regional SEMICON shows put on by SEMI, a global industry association serving the manufacturing supply chain for the electronics industry. Southeast Asia is a hotbed for semiconductor backend and PCBA (SMT) industries. With our new employee Raymund Yeoh located in Penang, Malaysia; combined with our distribution partner Electrotek based out of Singapore, Cimetrix now has a strong presence to support Industry 4.0 adoption in Southeast Asia. 

semicon-sea-post-1-1By working closely with SEMI, Cimetrix had a new booth in the SEMI Smart Manufacturing Pavilion and an impressive demonstration in the SEMI Smart Manufacturing Journey.

Our new booth emphasized (1) our global reach as the world’s largest supplier of equipment connectivity and control software, (2) our new SapienceTM factory side platform which has beta installations at select major EMS and electronics manufacturing sites, and (3) our new EquipmentTestTM connectivity tester designed to make equipment connectivity easier than ever before.

booth-semi-sea-1Our booth was extremely busy the whole time with demonstrations of Sapience and EquipmentTest. We gave out vouchers for free copies of EquipmentTest to booth visitors which generated excitement and will increase learning for GEM connectivity in Southeast Asia. It was interesting to see the number of factory engineers and managers who visited us seeking help with getting their equipment connected for traceability and OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness). And we had the answers. Right next door to our booth was the SEMI Smart Manufacturing Journey which had guided tours demonstrating the use of Industry 4.0 throughout the electronics manufacturing supply chain. Our job was to demonstrate data collection using standards from live equipment in real time displaying OEE charts and data for each tour to witness. Setting this up can take months in a factory. Our Smart Factory Business Team is out to turn this problem upside down. They connected to all 4 live equipment in one day and were ready to go at the start of the show. And we are ready to do that in factories too. 

mike-semi-sea-tourHere is Mike and Jesse giving a demonstration to a tour group. The equipment is located right behind the crowd for all to see; with Sapience displaying data and the crowd taking pictures. SEMI did a great job organizing this. We had top government officials, factories, equipment manufacturers, electronics distributors and universities come through the tours. We also exceeded expectations by adding artificial intelligence to the demonstration. Amazon Alexa was integrated into Sapience which allowed us to ask Alexa which factory was most productive last week. Alexa and Sapience analyzed the data and gave the answer to the tour crowd.

We have many new opportunities to follow up; and we will be working with SEMI on how to help companies in Southeast Asia learn and adopt Industry 4.0.

Following the show, our team spread out to visit the rapidly growing Cimetrix customer base in Penang, Korea, India and China with support from our local teams. See you next year in SEMICON Southeast Asia!

Buy EquipmentTest Today

 

Topics: Doing Business with Cimetrix, Events, Global Services, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Cimetrix Products

Do you need help with GEM Testing?

Posted by David Francis: Director of Product Management on May 22, 2019 11:21:00 AM

A few years ago, I went through the process of building a new house. It was exciting to work with the architect to design the house and imagine what the finished product was going to be like. The architect created a 40-page set of drawings detailing all the components that would go into the house, like the electrical, plumbing and flooring. I thought everything was covered. I was a little surprised when things didn’t go exactly as detailed in the drawings. There were exceptions! However, having the detailed drawings made it easier to identify where things went wrong and helped clarify what needed to be done to correct the problems.EquipmentTest-Software-Control

Communication standards like GEM are like a set of architectural drawings for how to connect equipment to factory control systems. They define what needs to be communicated, how the communication needs to take place and provide a great roadmap for getting there. But like building a new house, there are usually a few surprises along the way. A standard, consistent way of testing the interface that can be used by both the factory and equipment manufacturer, greatly reduces the unknown and simplifies the process.

The new Cimetrix EquipmentTest™ product is the fastest way to achieve GEM Compliance for factory acceptance testing of new equipment. Whether you are an equipment manufacturer or factory, making sure the equipment interface is GEM compliant is critical. Having an easy-to-use testing solution to determine if the equipment is GEM compliant is critical.

There are two versions of EquipmentTest depending on your needs. The EqupmentTest Basic version is ideal for both Smart factories and equipment manufacturers to quickly and easily test the basic capabilities of an equipment’s GEM interface. EquipmentTest Basic includes a simple testing scenario, called a plugin, to evaluate the equipment’s ability to connect to a GEM host and communicate events, data and alarms. This version also includes the ability to send/receive individual messages to/from the equipment for discovery or diagnostic purposes. With the messaging functionality, you can also create macros to send and receive groups of messages.

For more complex testing, there is the EquipmentTest Pro version. In addition to all the features of the EquipmentTest Basic version, EquipmentTest Pro includes a full, rigorous GEM compliance testing plug-in and an operational GEM compliance testing plugin. The Pro version includes development tools to allow you to create your own custom tests/plug-ins using .NET languages. The GEM compliance plugin generates a GEM compliance statement that shows the areas and level of compliance to the GEM standards. There are also other tools only available in the EquipmentTest Pro version that allow you easily test and interact with the GEM functionality on the equipment.

As with all our products, Cimetrix supports the industry connectivity standards so you never have to wonder if your equipment is keeping up with the rest of the industry.

You can purchase either version of EquipmentTest directly from our website and download the software immediately. You will need to provide a valid Mac ID and email address for licensing purposes. You will receive your license agreement no more than 48 hours after purchase. Be sure to learn more and get your EquipmentTest download today!

Buy EquipmentTest Today

Topics: Industry Standards, SECS/GEM, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Cimetrix Products

Getting Your Software Engineering Resume Noticed

Posted by Brice Laris MPC, CPLP; Human Resources Manager on May 16, 2019 10:30:00 AM

Show your Talent card with colorful background with defocused lightsAsk ten different people and you will be told ten different ways to write your resume. Some people say education should be up front, others say to focus on your job history, but the reality is you need to write your resume for those who are going to read it. Your resume isn’t a story about what a wonderful and diverse person you are, it needs to provide information quickly and concisely about your ability to do the job. As a software engineer, the temptation is to write your resume for other engineers, which you should, but you also need to think about everyone who will see your resume. There are three people you should keep in mind when writing your resume:

  1. The Human Resources person who will initially look at your resume
  2. The Hiring Manager who will ultimately decide who to interview and hire
  3. The Potential Co-Workers on your team, who may contribute to the hiring decision and be involved in the interview

The Human Resources person will most often be the first person who will review your resume. That person will be looking to see if you meet the minimum requirements for the position, such as:

  • Do you have the required education?
  • Do you have the years of experience?
  • Have you worked in this industry before or something similar?

Back view of modern programmer sitting and writing code in dark roomSometimes the HR person looking at your resume will be familiar with a few software engineering terms, but their degree is often in a non-technology field. So, the easier you can make it for the person to determine the answers to the above three questions, the better. If your degree is in computer science or a related degree, put that before your job history. This is often an easy hurdle that HR uses to determine who is qualified and who is not, so get it out of the way immediately. As part of your education, list the programming languages you studied and which ones you are proficient in. You might even put in a sentence or two about how any class projects relate to the position you are applying for. 

BS – Computer Science, Westminster College                      Graduation Date: 6/1/2018
              
Proficient in: C++, C#, Java
               Studied: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Visual Basic
               Completed class project with C# to create an application to manage multiple devices.

Notice in the above example that Amazon Web Services (AWS) is spelled out. Don’t assume your HR person knows all of the common abbreviations in the industry. Spell them out on first usage with the abbreviation in parenthesis. Then you can just use the abbreviation going forward. 

Now it is time for work history on the resume. You will want to demonstrate the experience you have that is related to the position. Your job as a stock boy at House of Fabrics when you were a teenager can be left off. When listing job history put the name of the company, years worked, a short sentence about what the company does, and three or four bullets that illustrate experience you obtained that qualified for the position you are applying for. If you are struggling with how to describe the company, look it up on Wikipedia.com. They will often have a one sentence description written for you that you can borrow.

SK Hynix - Software Engineer                                                     January, 2001 – March, 2016
               Semiconductor supplier of dynamic random access memory chips and flash memory chips.
               - Developed C++ application that laser measures the drill depths of holes in circuit boards.
               - Worked on a team to create a database of company products that could be accessed via AWS.
               - Interacted with customers on installation of support software products, customized in C#.

Finally, if there are particular projects, applications or accomplishments that speak to your ability to perform the job desired, list those in a heading called “Accomplishments.” Remember, the HR person doesn’t care if you were an Eagle Scout, Student Body President or Employee of the Month three times in a row. They are looking to see if you can do the job. Look at the job description and determine if any of the accomplishments you have achieved relate. If so, include them in a couple of sentences.

Accomplishments
- Served on the board of directors of semi.org, and worked with 14 companies on implementation of Generic Equipment Model (GEM) standards.Above view of young consultant shaking hands with her client

The second person who will look at your resume is the hiring manager. They are going to be focused on can you do the job required. While the HR Person may understand in general terms what the job does, it is the hiring manager who is closest to the job and can make the judgment call as to who can do the job. The hiring manager is going to be looking to see if you have performed similar work elsewhere of if dissimilar work could actually be translated into similar skills at the new employer. You might illustrate this by putting adding another bullet that illustrates this.

IKEA – Computer Support Technician                                      March, 2016 – June 2018
Designs and sells ready to assemble furniture, appliances and home accessories.
- Provided technical support for store operations employees with desktop and Point of Sale (POS) software.
- Developed enhancement in C#, to POS software, to allow for the automation of the credit card reconciliation process on a nightly basis. This software was required to operate with no user intervention and pull the databases of over 100 stores across the world.

So, while the software enhancement above didn’t make microchips, it did demonstrate your ability to create software with no user interaction, automation, via networking, authored in C#. If you are applying outside of your industry, these explanations become critical so that the hiring manager still considers you a viable candidate.

As with the HR Person, don’t assume the hiring manager was an engineer. Some companies will promote people who are good managers, but not necessarily skilled in the area they are managing. If you can demonstrate your ability to clearly communicate to a layperson, this will be another point in your favor.

Learn about all the career possibilities at Cimetrix!

Careers

Topics: Doing Business with Cimetrix, Cimetrix Company Culture

Cimetrix Around the World

Cimetrix team members from around the world gathered in Japan for our annual Global Sales Meeting. The entire Cimetrix sales team was in attendance, as well as all of our Asian based Solutions Engineering team members, representatives from product management and our Smart Factory Business unit. The meetings were held at our new Cimetrix Japan office located in Yokohama, outside of Tokyo. Our hosts from Cimetrix Japan made sure everyone’s time in Japan was very comfortable and the cherry blossoms were still in bloom. We also took advantage to visit key customers in Korea and Japan both before and after the sales meeting.

sales-meeting-2019-1

The sales meetings included updates on the Company’s long term strategy and product roadmaps. Team members reviewed local trends in their regions, which included North America, Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, China and Southeast Asia. In addition, team members reviewed the record number of new customers gained over the past several years, customer trends and plans to ensure customer satisfaction.

Everyone was in agreement the Cimetrix strategy to open local offices with sales and technical support has been working very well as customers greatly appreciate dealing with local people that share the same language and culture. As the leading provider of software solutions for equipment connectivity and control in the smart factory, this strategy allows Cimetrix to provide the highest levels of passionate customer support to ensure our customer’s success, as well as develop direct relationships with major customers to help drive product roadmaps.

In the past, many companies in Asia used competitive solutions from small regional suppliers. However, now that most companies do business worldwide, they prefer to deal with a larger company that is truly global and an expert not only in their native country, but everywhere their products are sold. Cimetrix is uniquely positioned to fill these needs.

It was very exciting to see the great team members that have joined Cimetrix and are working hard for our success around the world!

To contact us around the globe, visit our Contact page and select your local office.

Contact Us

Topics: Cimetrix Company Culture, Events, Global Services, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Meet Our Team

Cimetrix is Exhibiting at SEMICON Southeast Asia

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on May 1, 2019 8:49:00 AM

SEMICON2019 WEB BANNER- 200SEMICON Southeast Asia is coming up at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC) in Kuala Lumpur on May 7-9. Cimetrix is exhibiting at the show this year for the first time ever! In addition, we are pleased to announce our sponsorship of the new SMART Manufacturing Journey at the Global Pavilion. If you are attending SEMICON Southeast Asia this year, please stop by to see us at our Booth (#528) or meet with our team in the Pavilion.

Petronas_Panorama_IISEMICON Southeast Asia has become an important exposition for the electronics industry in Southeast Asia, so we are excited to be exhibiting. In the booth you can see all of our connectivity and control products in action. A few short steps away is the Smart Manufacturing Journey, where you can hear one of our industry experts speak at the Smart Manufacturing Pavilion. 

In particular, Ranjan Chatterjee, VP & GM Smart Factory Business at Cimetrix, will share his thoughts on the "Consolidation of the Electronics Supply Chain and its Impact on a Data-driven Deployment Strategy for Smart Manufacturing" at the Technology Innovation - Smart Manufacturing & Smart Data Forum at 3:50pm on Tuesday, 07 May. 

If you'd like to schedule an appointment, please fill out our events meeting form by clicking below. Otherwise, we hope you'll drop by and see us during the show!

Meet with Us

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

The 19th Annual European APC Conference is in the books!

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations on Apr 23, 2019 10:34:00 AM

apcm20191Cimetrix participated in the recent European Advanced Process Control and Manufacturing (apc|m) Conference, along with over 150 control professionals across the European and global semiconductor manufacturing industry. This site of this year’s conference was Villach, Austria, a picturesque town nestled in the eastern Alps just north of the Italian border in the state of Carinthia. This region is home to a number of high-tech companies and institutions all along the semiconductor manufacturing value chain, and since it was the first time the conference was held in Villach, the local hosts rolled out the red carpet. apcm20192-2

This conference, now in its 19th year and organized by Silicon Saxony, is one of only a few global events dedicated to the domain of semiconductor process control and directly supporting technologies. As usual, the conference was very well organized, and featured a wide range of high-quality presentations, keynote addresses, and tutorial sessions. The supplier exhibits associated with this year’s event were especially numerous, as were the technical posters displayed in the exhibition area just outside the conference rooms.

As in many prior years, Cimetrix was privileged to present at this conference, as Alan Weber delivered a talk entitled “Addressing Connectivity Challenges of Disparate Data Sources in Smart Manufacturing.” The presentation highlighted the need for unifying data collection concepts—like explicit equipment models and generic structures for data collection plans—are increasing necessary for maintaining the fidelity of a factory’s “digital twin” in Smart Manufacturing settings where the number of data source types is growing. This presentation resonated with a number of the key conference themes, so if you want to know more, feel free to download a copy of the entire presentation from our web site.

apc20193-1Other highlights of the conference included:

  • An update by Otto Graf on the ambitious vision and progress of the BOSCH 300mm wafer fab now under construction in Dresden. In this talk he emphasized the role that digital technologies will play in bringing up the fab and climbing the yield ramp and other features of a wall-to-wall Industrie 4.0 implementation. apcm20194-1
  • “The Role of APC and Smart Manufacturing / Industrie 4.0 in New Reliability-Critical Markets“ by James Moyne (University of Michigan / Applied Materials) – James re-presented a number of the Smart Manufacturing technologies in the context of automotive industry requirements, especially the role that Subject Matter Expertise (i.e., people!) will play alongside other emerging technologies. He also pointed out that the Factory Integration chapter of the International Roadmap for Devices and Systems (IRDS) will be reorganized around the key tenets of Smart Manufacturing.

  • A thought-provoking invited talk from Dr. Roman Kern of the KNOW-CENTER titled “Possibilities and Challenges of Digitalization in the Semiconductor and Other Domains.” His key messages started with “Big Data is the new oil…. AI is the new electricity… and Data Science is the new lingua franca for leading global industries,” and then he went deeper into all of these.

  • Dr. Germar Schneider of Infineon Technologies built on the theme above in a practical setting with his “Chances and Challenges of Digitization in Semiconductor Fabs and Success Factors during the implementation” presentation. This was not only an in-depth look at some of the multi-year efforts at Infineon, but also included a summary of current digitization projects across the European manufacturing R&D community. 

  • apcm20195-1Another invited talk from BMW was delivered by Rainer Hohenhoff which covered “Product Data and Product Life Cycle Management in the face of new business models of the automotive industry.” In short, it discussed many of the ways a car company might make money even after people stop buying as many cars as they do today… and what collisions (pun intended) you could expect in the market as service companies like Google, Amazon, UBER, and others converge on the transportation consumer. 

There were poignant moments as well. After 19 years of personal dedication to this event, both Gitta Haupold of Silicon Saxony and Dr. Klaus Kabitzsch, Program Committee Chair from Technical University of Dresden are retiring. They will definitely be missed!

apcm20196-1The insights gained from these and the other 30+ presentations are too numerous to list here, but in aggregate, they provided an excellent reminder of how relevant semiconductor technology has become for our comfort, sustenance, safety, and overall quality of life. 

This conference and its sister conference in the US are excellent venues to understand what manufacturers do with all the data they collect, so if this topic piques your interest, be sure to put these events on your calendar in the future. In the meantime, if you have questions about any of the above, or want to know how equipment connectivity and control fit into the overall Smart Manufacturing landscape, please contact us!

Contact Us

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

Meet the Front Office Team: Kelli Freshman

Posted by Cimetrix on Apr 17, 2019 11:17:00 AM

Meet the Team Kelli-FreshmanIt's time to meet the folks that keep Cimetrix running - our Front Office team! Meet Kelli Freshman, a Cimetrix Administrative Assistant. Read on to learn a little bit more about Kelli.

How long have you been working at Cimetrix? 

I have worked at Cimetrix since June of 2018, though it feels like I’ve been a part of this team for much longer.

What is your role at Cimetrix?

My official position is Administrative Assistant, providing support to all of the employees of Cimetrix. My day to day tasks vary greatly from all things big and small. I enjoy arranging the details of travel, gatherings and client visits, ensuring things go smoothly. I am responsible for maintaining the calendar for the office, tracking our employees near and far as they visit clients, tradeshows, or work remotely all over the globe. Annually, Cimetrix holds an “All Company Gathering” which is a week where all of our employees, regardless of where they work/live, meet in Salt Lake City for training, team building and a lot of fun! This event includes many moving parts and I love making sure it all goes off without a hitch.  

What drew you to Cimetrix originally?

The first things that attracted me to Cimetrix was the thoroughness and precision that comes behind every decision. From the smallest details to the largest decisions, they place the utmost importance in making sure whatever they decide will move the company forward. Having worked here, I value the team atmosphere more than anything. Regardless of your position, opinions are heard and valued. I also appreciate the attitude of getting the people that are best suited for any position and letting them shine at that, rather than trying to stretch employees thin doing everything.

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

I find it incredibly rewarding to be a part of things going smoothly, according to plan. I love helping people and making them feel welcome and happy at work. 

What do you find to be most challenging about your job?

There are definitely a lot of different aspects of my job. Keeping track of the different tasks and varied responsibilities takes a focus and ability to multi-task to a level at which I haven’t had to reach before. I’ve enjoyed the challenges of this position, and excited to continue to help other departments in the areas I have experience in. 

What are your top 3 favorite books and/or movies?

As for books, I really enjoy checking thrillers and self-help books out from the library and setting them on my nightstand until they are due and I have to take them back unread.

The first half of movies are usually pretty good, then I fall asleep because my husband’s shoulder is incredibly comfortable. I notoriously fell asleep in the theater before the beginning credits started when the new Star Wars movie came out.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I’m a somewhat newlywed, and love spending time with my husband and our six kids. We enjoy the crazy and the not crazy times equally, whether we’re exploring Utah or enjoying quiet nights at home.

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

Multiple GEM Connections on Manufacturing Equipment

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Apr 10, 2019 12:47:00 PM

The GEM standard is often incorrectly perceived as a single-connection protocol for manufacturing equipment. A single connection means that only one software product can use the GEM interface at one time. Many manufacturing equipment that support the GEM standard only have the ability for one connection. However, this limitation is set only in ignorance, by tradition, and to satisfy the common manufacturing system architecture. 

The truth is that the GEM standard simply does not discuss additional connections--meaning that additional connections are neither required nor prohibited. Not only is it possible for an equipment to support multiple concurrent GEM interfaces, this is becoming more and more common. If each supported GEM connection is point to point and complies with the GEM standard, this is certainly allowed. However, each connection should be completely independent of other GEM connections and still comply with the GEM requirements. Implementing multiple connections raises several questions. 

What does it mean for each GEM connection to be independent?

It means that each GEM host operates completely independently, as if the other GEM host connections were not present. Here is a more specific list of attributes that define “completely independent”:

  • The Communication state model is independent. Each can establish and disconnect independently from the other host packages.
  • The Control state model is independent. Each can be set up as local or remote as needed. 
  • Collection event report dynamic configuration is completely independent. Each host defines a unique set of reports and subscribes to a unique set of collection events. Even so, if two GEM host connections create identical reports and link them to the same collection event, then both should receive identical data. 
  • Each host subscribes to a unique set of alarms. 
  • Each host can query status information independently of any another.
  • Each host can choose to enable or disable Spooling and configure it as desired.
  • Each host can set up its own trace data collection.
  • Each host only receives messages based on its subscriptions.
  • Each host only sees reply messages to its primary messages.

Are you talking about HSMS-GS? 

No. HSMS-GS means implementing SEMI Standard E37.2, High Speed Message Service – General Session, an inactive SEMI standard. This standard, which never gained much industry traction, opens a single port through which any number of clients can connect. In contrast, I am talking about supporting multiple implementations of E37.1, High Speed Message Service – Single Session (HSMS-SS) where each connection uses a unique port number. Nearly all GEM interfaces today use the HSMS-SS protocol. 

What are the advantages of having multiple GEM connections in a single GEM interface? 

This opens the door for many useful applications. Here are three example configurations, and of course, all of them could be accomplished at the same time. 

  1. A factory can set up multiple host software packages at the same time to connect to the same equipment’s GEM interface, without any knowledge of or interference with each other. With only a single connection, a factory wanting to do the same thing has to implement some sort of GEM host broker to funnel the different GEM host package communications into a single GEM connection… a technically challenging feat. 01_GEMHost_v3
  2. If an equipment supplier wants to create an application designed specifically for its equipment running in a factory, they can use one of the GEM connections. They don’t have to replicate functionality into a custom interface. 02_GEMHost_v3
  3. If one equipment needs to monitor, control, or pass data directly to or from another equipment, this can be done using one of the GEM connections without interference to the factory GEM connection. This is relatively simple to set up. Sometimes this is called horizontal communication. Such communication can also be channeled through a host using the traditional vertical communication use case for a GEM interface. 03_GEMHost_v3

What about safety?

Typically, I would expect factories to set up one and only one connection in the GEM interface to be in the online-remote state and allowed to send remote commands. But this is not an absolute requirement. It is not difficult to imagine applications where execution of remote commands is distributed among multiple applications. For example, an equipment supplier might use one GEM connection to manage periodic recalibration of the equipment based the actual measured performance. 

What are the technical complications? 

There are a few. 

  • Because each connection uses a separate port number, the GEM interface can only support a finite number of connections when using HSMS-SS. 
  • Because multiple connections are not addressed explicitly in the standard, there are not requirements for handling them. For example, GEM requires that operator commands and operator recipe management activity be reported to the host. However, when another connection sends a remote command or downloads a new recipe, there is no requirement to report this. Our CIMConnect product does, but there are no formal requirements to do so. 
  • GEM requires the communication status to be displayed in the GUI, but what about multiple connections? It is not clear what needs to be displayed for multiple hosts. Typically I’ve just displayed the first GEM connection status, but it might be useful to show each connection status and give the operator a chance to control all GEM connections. 
  • Some collection events (and hence data variables), status variables and equipment constants are targeting the behavior of that single connection. This means that in order to implement multiple connections correctly, these connection-specific features must be unique for that connection. For example, consider status variables EventsEnabled and ControlState. The values reported for these two status variables are unique to that connection. This adds some complexity to implementing the GEM interface with multiple connections. Of course, our CIMConnect product implements and handles this already. 

Does each GEM connection have to be identical? 

No, but generally speaking it should be the same. The same set of collection events/data variables, alarms, status variables, and equipment constants should be reported to all connections. However, there are use cases where it might be useful to have some unique collection events and data on one connection. For example, if an equipment supplier uses one GEM connection as a pipeline for a factory host package dedicated to their equipment, they might want to publish some unique data that is for its eyes only. As mentioned above, if two GEM host connection create an identical report, and link it to the same collection event, then both should receive identical data. On the other hand, trace data reports with the same status variables may not need to report identical data, because the values might be sampled independently and at different time intervals. 

How many GEM connections should an equipment support in its GEM interface?

I recommend supporting five connections. Most GEM implementations are just using one connection today, so this opens the door for up to four more connections. This enables an equipment to handle most situations without the need to be reconfigured later at the factory. In CIMConnect, the overhead for having five connections is quite minimal, and virtually nothing if they are not used. 

What should the communication settings be? 

You should definitely set up the equipment as passive. This puts all of the configuration on the host side. The device ID can be the same for all connections, where 0, 1, or 32767 is best. 

How do I turn on multiple GEM connections in CIMConnect?

Since our CIMConnect product inherently supports multiple GEM connections, Cimetrix customers really only have to configure the setup file. Our CIMConnect GEM product was originally designed with multiple GEM connections in mind; therefore it is native and intuitive, with virtually no extra programming required unless you count the additional work in the operator interface. In the setup file, just create the five [CONNECTIONX] sections initially, and then set up a connection-specific VARIABLES and EVENTS section for each of the five connections. 

Alternative Approaches?

One alternative approach is to look at the SEMI Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA) standards. An EDA interface is inherently only for data collection and has multiple client access built into the standard as a fundamental requirement. The semiconductor front end device manufacturers have successful embraced this technology in addition to the GEM standard. The GEM interface is used by the Manufacturing Execution System for command and control of the equipment, while the EDA interface is used for every other application. 

Final Thoughts

My recommendation is that everyone, especially Cimetrix CIMConnect customers, take a look at their GEM interface and make sure that you are doing a good job implementing multiple host connections. CIMConnect makes this extremely easy. And let your customers know that you have this feature so that they can take advantage of it. 

You can learn more about the GEM standard any time on our website.

GEM Standard

Topics: Industry Standards, SECS/GEM, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Cimetrix Products