Industry News, Trends and Technology, and Standards Updates

Leveraging Cimetrix EquipmentTest to Develop a Reliable SMT-ELS Interface

Posted by Jesse Lopez: Software Engineer on Oct 31, 2019 12:45:00 PM

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in the development, testing, and integration of the Cimetrix ELS library that encompasses the SEMI A1, A1.1, and A2 (SMT-ELS) standards. It’s been exciting to see how ELS has increasingly been embraced as a connectivity solution for electronic manufacturing equipment.

I was first introduced to the SMT-ELS standard in June 2019 by Alan Weber (VP, New Product Innovations, Cimetrix). To begin, I obtained a functioning ELS implementation from Siemens Japan as well as the needed hardware. To make sure I fully understood ELS, I attended a 2-day class presented by Siemens and began studying the ELS standard and the Siemens ELS implementation.

It took a significant amount of time to get familiar with Siemens Implementation and gain an understanding of what they did to support the ELS standard. Siemens Japan has done a great job with their SEMI SMT-ELS implementation, and their assistance with my efforts is greatly appreciated. Once I felt familiar enough with ELS, I built a SMEMA interface driver to simulate the conveyor signals.

Using the SMT-ELS communications library, the Cimetrix development team designed a sample equipment application which I was able to use for initial connectivity testing. At first, it was fairly difficult to get the two libraries to communicate. However, when I used the Cimetrix EquipmentTestTM software, I was able to find defects in our library, which were quickly and easily resolved by our development team. 

While it was beneficial to have a known ELS implementation to test against, it is now clear how valuable using a testing tool would be for anyone creating or validating their own SEMI SMT-ELS implementation.

Even though the SEMI A1, A1.1 and A2 standards are not long, they are dense. As adoption of these standards increases, it becomes paramount that equipment manufactures can test their SMT-ELS implementations during development. It is not effective or efficient for equipment manufacturers to test against other equipment as their primary form of testing. This is why the Cimetrix EquipmentTest SMT-ELS plug-in is so valuable.

I am currently working on test are written in C# and the code is easy to follow. The tests are split into two categories; one for horizontal communication between equipment ,and vertical communication to a factory system.

Horizontal Tests

For Panel Transfer verification, EquipmentTest connects to the first and last equipment in the line. This allows EquipmentTest to send messages to the first equipment and validate the format and content of the message from the last equipment. HCConnectionDiagram-1-1

For this test, the user defines the panel parameters. The panel is sent to the first equipment. Once the last equipment in the line sends the panel to EquipmentTest, the Material Data Content is verified. 

In addition to actual tests, EquipmentTest can be used to send user defined atomic messages such as SetMDMode.

Vertical Tests

EquipmentTest Connects directly to the vertical port of the equipment. Using EquipmentTest, I can set and validate the Net Configuration.

The EquipmentTest software has been pivotal in developing and test our SMT-ELS Implementation. A demonstration of EquipmentTest SMT-ELS and the Cimetrix EquipmentConnectTM SMT-ELS software will be given at Productronica from November 12-15, 2019 in Munich, Germany. Please drop by our booth any time, or feel free to set up an appointment in advance. We look forward to meeting with you and discussing your ELS needs!

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

EDA Best Practices Series: Choose to Provide E164-Compliant Models

Posted by Derek Lindsey: Product Manager on Aug 28, 2019 11:42:00 AM

In the EDA Best Practices blog series, we have discussed choosing a commercial software platform, using that package to differentiate your data collection capabilities and how to choose what types of data to publish. In this post we will review why you should choose to provide an E164-compliant equipment model.

What is E164?

Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA) - also referred to as Interface A - offers semiconductor manufacturers the ability to collect a significant amount of data that is crucial to the manufacturing process. This data is represented on the equipment as a model, which is communicated to EDA clients as metadata sets. The metadata, based upon the SEMI E125 Specification for Equipment Self-Description, includes the equipment components, events, and exceptions, along with all the available data parameters.

Since the advent of the SEMI EDA standards, developers and fabs have recognized that equipment models, and the resulting metadata sets, can vary greatly. It is possible to create vastly different models for similar pieces of equipment and have both models be compliant with the EDA standards. This makes it difficult for the factories to know where to find the data they are interested in from one type of equipment to another.

Recognizing this issue, the early adopters of the EDA standards launched an initiative in to make the transition to EDA easier and ensure consistency of equipment models and metadata from equipment to equipment. This effort resulted in the E164 EDA Common Metadata standard, approved in July 2012. Another part of this initiative was the development of the Metadata Conformance Analyzer (MCA), which is a utility that tests conformance to this standard. With this specification, equipment modeling is more clearly defined and provides more consistent models between equipment suppliers. This makes it easier for EDA/Interface A users to navigate models and find the data they need.

Power of E164

The E164 standard requires strict name enforcement for events called out in the GEM300 SEMI standards. It also requires that all state machines contain all of the transitions and in the right order as those called out in the GEM300 standards. This includes state machines in E90 for substrate locations and in E157 for process management. The states and transition names in these state machines must match the names specified in the GEM300 standards.

These requirements may seem unnecessarily strict, but implementing the common metadata standard results in:

  • Consistent implementations of GEM300
  • Commonality across equipment types
  • Automation of many data collection processes
  • Less work to interpret collected data
  • Ability for true “plug and play” applications
  • Major increases in application software engineering efficiency

Knowing that a model is E164 compliant allows EDA client applications to easily and programmatically define data collection plans knowing that the compliant models must provide all of the specified data with the specified names. For example, the following application is able to track carrier arrival and slotmap information as well as movement of material through a piece of equipment and process data for that equipment.eda-best-practice-e164-1

This application will work for any GEM300 equipment that is E164 compliant. The client application developer can confidently create data collection plans for these state machines, knowing that an E164-compliant model must provide the needed state machines and data with the proscribed names.

Decide to be E164 compliant

A number of leading semiconductor manufacturers around the globe have seen the power of requiring their equipment suppliers to provide EDA/E164 on their equipment, and now require it in their purchase specifications.

If you are a semiconductor manufacturer, you should seriously consider doing the same because it will greatly simplify data collection from the equipment (and most of your candidate suppliers probably have an implementation available or underway.

If you are an equipment supplier and your factory customers have not required that your EDA models be E164 compliant, you should still seriously consider providing this capability anyway as a way to differentiate your equipment. Moveover, E164-compliant models are fully compliant with all other EDA standards. Finally, it is much easier and more cost effective to create E164-compliant models from the outset than it is to create non-compliant models and then convert to E164 when the factory requires it.

Conclusion

The purpose of the E164 specification is to encourage companies developing EDA/Interface A connections to implement a more common representation of equipment metadata. By following the E164 standard, equipment suppliers and factories can establish greater consistency from equipment to equipment and from factory to factory. That consistency will make it easier and faster for equipment suppliers to provide a consistent EDA interface, and for factories to develop EDA client applications.

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Topics: Industry Standards, EDA/Interface A, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Cimetrix Products, EDA Best Practices

EDA Best Practices Series: Specifying and Measuring Performance and Data Quality

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations on Aug 1, 2019 12:14:00 PM

The old adage “You get what you pay for” doesn’t fully apply to equipment automation interfaces… more accurately, you get what you require, and then what you pay for!

This is especially true when considering the range of capability that may be provided with an equipment supplier’s implementation of the EDA (Equipment Data Acquisition, also known as Interface A) standards. Not only is it possible to be fully compliant with the standard while delivering an equipment metadata model that contains very little useful information, the standards themselves are also silent on the topics of Performance and Data Quality.  So you must take extra care to state these requirements and expectations in your purchase specifications if you expect the resulting interface to support the demands of your factory’s data analysis and control applications. Moreover, to the extent these requirements can be tested, you should describe the test methods and tools that you will use in the acceptance process to minimize the chance of ugly surprises when the equipment is delivered.

We have covered the importance of and process for creating robust purchase specifications in a previous posting. This post will focus specifically on aspects of Performance and Data Quality within that context.

Scope of Performance and Data Quality Requirements

From a scope standpoint, Performance and Data Quality requirements are found in a number of sections in an automation specification. The list below is just a starting point suitable for any advanced wafer fab – your needs may extend and exceed these significantly.

Here are some sample requirements that pertain to the computing platform for the EDA interface software:

  • The interface computer should have the capability of a 4-core Intel i5 or i7 or better, with processing speed of 2+ GHz, 8 GB of RAM, and 500 GB of persistent storage with at least 50% available at all times.
  • The equipment must monitor key performance parameters of the EDA computing platform such as CPU utilization (%), memory utilization (GB, %), disk utilization (GB, %) and access rate, etc. using system utilities such as Perfmon (for Windows systems) and store this history either in a log file or in some part of the equipment metadata model.
  • The network interface card must support 1 GB per second (or faster) communications.

In the area of equipment model content, the following requirements are directly related to interface performance and data quality:

  • The equipment should make the EDA computing platform performance parameters available as parameters of an E120 logical element that represents the EDA interface software itself.
  • The supplier must provide a written description of the update rates, recommended sampling intervals, normal operating ranges and behaviors, and high/low/rate-of-change limits for all key process parameters. These will be used to design data quality filters in the data path between the equipment and the consuming applications/users.
  • Equipment parameters provided through the EDA interface must exhibit a number of data quality characteristics, including, but not limited to: an internal sampling/update rate sufficient to represent the underlying signal accurately; timing of trace reports that is consistent with the sampling interval within +/- 1.0%; values in adjacent trace reports must contain then-current values at the specified sampling interval; and rejection of obvious outliers.

Advanced users of the EDA standards are now raising their expectations for the equipment to provide self-monitoring and diagnosis capability in the form of built-in data collection plans (DCPs), as expressed in some of the following requirements:

  • The supplier must provide built-in DCPs to support common equipment performance monitoring, diagnostic, and maintenance processes that are well known to the supplier. Documentation for these DCPs must define their purpose, activation conditions, interface bandwidth consumed, and the types of analysis the collected data enables.
  • The supplier must describe the operating conditions that can lead to a PerformanceWarning situation for the EDA interface.
  • The supplier must describe the algorithms used to deactivate DCPs under PerformanceWarning conditions. These might include LIFO (i.e., the last DCP activated is the first to be deactivated), decreasing order of bandwidth consumed or “size” (in terms of total # of parameters and # of trace/event requests), etc.

Because of the power and complexity of the DCP structure defined in the EDA standards, it is not sufficient to specify the raw communications performance requirement as a small number of isolated criteria, such as total bandwidth (in parameters per second) or minimum sampling interval. Rather, since the EDA interface must support a variety of data collection client demands for a wide range of production equipment, these requirements should be expressed as combinations of sampling interval, # parameters per DCP, # of simultaneously active DCPs, group size, buffering interval, response time for ad hoc “one-shot” DCPs, maximum latency of event generation after the related equipment condition occurred, consistency of timestamps in trace reports with the specified sampling interval, and perhaps others.

Moreover, some equipment types may have more stringent performance requirements than others, depending on the criticality of timely data for the consuming applications… so there may be process-specific performance requirements as well.

Measurement and Testing

Methods for measuring and testing the above requirements should also be described in the purchase specifications so the equipment suppliers can know they are being successfully addressed during the development process and can demonstrate compliance before and after shipping the equipment. Clarity at this phase saves time and expense later on.

Examples of such requirements include:

  • The supplier must test the EDA interface across the full range of performance criteria specified above and provide reports documenting the results.
  • An earlier requirement states that the EDA interface must be capable of reporting at least 2000 parameters at a sampling interval of 0.1 seconds (10Hz) with a group size of 1, for a total data collection capacity (bandwidth) of 20,000 parameters per second. In addition to this overall bandwidth capability, the supplier must demonstrate that this performance is possible over a range of specific data collection deployment strategies, meaning different #s and sizes of DCPs, different sampling intervals, group sizes, etc. without causing the EDA interface to reach one of its “Performance Warning” states or overstress its computing platform. To this end, all combinations of the following data collection configuration settings must be run for at least 15 seconds each; assuming the equipment has n processing modules:
    • Trace intervals (in seconds): 1, 0.5, 0.2, 0.1 (and 0.05 if possible)
    • # of parameters per DCP: 10, 50, 100, 250, 500, 1000 (and 2000 if possible)
    • # of DCPs: 1, 2, 3, … to n
    • Group size: 10, 5, 2, 1
  • The test client should be run on a separate computing platform with sufficient computing power to “stay ahead” of the EDA interface computer; in other words, the EDA interface should never have to wait on the client system.
  • Test reports should indicate the start and stop time of each iteration (i.e., one combination of the above settings), and verify that the timestamps of the data collection reports sent by the EDA interface are within +/- 1% of the value expected if the samples were collected exactly at the specified trace interval.
Performance parameters of the EDA interface platform should also be monitored during the tests and included in the report. These parameters should include memory usage, CPU processing load, and disk access rate (and perhaps others) for all processes that constitute the EDA interface software.

This approach is shown in tabular form for a 2-chamber tool (see below); since Group Size does not (or should not) impact the effective parameters per second rate, it is not shown in the table.edabest-measure-1
  • A summary report for all performance tests that show acceptable message generation and transmission timing across the full range of data collection test criteria must be available.
  • Detailed SOAP logs for specific performance tests must be available on request.

In Conclusion

Red_smart_factory-TW

We hope you now have some appreciation for the importance of solid requirements in this area, and can accurately assess how well your current purchase specifications express your actual needs. If you want to know more about a well-defined process for improving your specifications, or have any other questions regarding the status and outlook of the EDA standards, and how they can be implemented, please contact us.

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Topics: Industry Standards, EDA/Interface A, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Cimetrix Products, EDA Best Practices

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!

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

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

Why Work in the Electronics Manufacturing Industry?

Posted by Brice Laris MPC, CPLP; Human Resources Manager on Mar 6, 2019 10:44:00 AM

A question that job seekers should always ask of potential employers is, “Why should I work in your industry?” It is an important question when you consider that only 60 of the original Fortune 500 companies from 1955 are still in existence in 2017. Changing customer tastes, mergers, technology and many other reasons are responsible for this, but it does give us at least one key takeaway: the company I start my career with probably won’t be the one I end it with. As a result, it is important to ensure the industry you go into will be able to stand the test of time.sand-to-systemspdf-1

When one enters an industry, be it as an engineer or an accountant, you begin to build specialized knowledge of that industry within your field. This provides you with a competitive advantage in the job market of that industry. Companies are willing to pay more for an engineer with experience in their industry than one they will have to train. If you suddenly find the industry you are in obsolete, all of your specialized knowledge becomes likewise obsolete. For example, someone who was an engineer in the cathode ray tube industry may not find themselves as competitive for the top jobs anymore. 

The electronics manufacturing industry is an exciting place to be, and there is no immediate replacement or end in sight. When you join a company like Cimetrix you have the opportunity to develop and support the software that runs manufacturing equipment in factories worldwide. Those factories create computer memory and processor chips, RF and microwave transmitters, sensors and actuators of all shapes and sizes, power devices and amplifiers, display drivers, and many more items that go into the electronics we use every day. 

You are also part of an industry that meets the demands of many different and diverse end users, providing some shelter from the ups and downs of any particular market. When cell phones became less popular in favor of smart phones, the demand for new products didn’t go away—it simply changed the type of products were called for. 

One specific benefit of life at Cimetrix is that we are an integral part of the the electronics manufacturing and related industriesy. We often refer to one another as family, we take care of each other, celebrate our successes and create an environment where people enjoy coming to work. We have very competitive benefits and compensation, so we can pay you what you are worth. Many employees even have the option of working from home up to three days a week, saving them wear and tear on their vehicles (and their nerves from driving in traffic!).

If you are ready to join an exciting, dynamic, growing and fun industry, please check out our open positions.

Careers

Topics: Cimetrix Company Culture, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Cimetrix Products

EDA Implementation Insights: Competitive Differentiation

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations on Feb 13, 2019 11:50:00 AM

people arrowIn the first blog of this series, Clare Liu of Cimetrix China made the compelling case for choosing a commercial software platform for implementing the equipment side of the EDA (Equipment Data Acquisition) standards interface rather than developing the entire solution in-house. 

Whenever this “make vs. buy” decision is discussed, however, the following question inevitably arises: “If we choose a standard product for this, how can we differentiate the capabilities of our equipment and its data collection capability from our competitors?” It’s a great question which deserves a well-reasoned answer.

Platform Choice and System Architecture

Most advanced fabs use EDA to feed their on-line FDC (Fault Detection and Classification) applications, which are now considered “mission-critical.” This means if the FDC application is down for any reason, the equipment is considered down as well. It is therefore important to choose a computing platform for the EDA interface that is highly reliable and has enough processing “headroom” to support the high bandwidth requirements of these demanding, on-line production applications. Moreover, this platform should not be shared by other equipment communications, control, or support functions, since these may adversely impact the processing power available for the EDA interface. 

Surprisingly, this approach is not universally adopted, and has been a source of problems for some suppliers, so it is an area of potential differentiation. 

Adherence to Latest Standards 

gold-thumbs-upThe automation requirements for the most advanced fabs call for the latest versions (Freeze II) of all the standards in the EDA suite, including the EDA Common Metadata (E164) standard. Dealing with older versions of the standard in the factory systems creates unnecessary work and complexity for the fab’s automation staff, so it is best to implement the latest versions from the outset. The Cimetrix CIMPortal Plus product makes this a straightforward process using the model development and configuration tools in its SDK (Software Development Kit), so there is absolutely no cost penalty for providing the latest generation of standards in your interface.

It takes time and effort for equipment suppliers with older versions of the standards to upgrade their existing implementations, so this, too, is an opportunity for differentiation.

Equipment Metadata Model Content

This is probably the area with the largest potential for competitive differentiation, because it dictates what a factory customer will ultimately be able to do with the interface. If an equipment component, parameter, event, or exception condition is not represented in the equipment model as implemented in the E120 (Common Equipment Model) and E125 (Equipment Self-Description), and E164 (EDA Common Metadata) standards, the data related to that element cannot be collected. In effect, the metadata model IS the data collection “contract” between the equipment supplier and the fab customer.

eye-with-maglassThis is why the most advanced fabs have been far more explicit in their automation purchase specifications with respect to equipment model content, going so far as to specify the level of detailed information they want to collect about process performance, equipment behavior, internal control parameters, setpoints and real-time response of common mechanisms like material handling, vacuum system performance, power generation, consumables usage, and the like. This level of visibility into equipment operation is becoming increasingly important to achieve the required yield and productivity KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for fab at all technology nodes.

The argument about “who owns this level of information about equipment behavior” notwithstanding, providing the detailed information the fabs want in a structure that makes it easy to find and access is a true source of differentiation.

Self-Monitoring Capability

If you really want to set your equipment apart from your competitors, consider going well beyond simply providing access to the level of information needed to monitor equipment and process behavior and include “built-in” Data Collection Plans (DCPs) that save your customers the effort of figuring out what data should be collected and analyzed to accomplish this. Your product and reliability engineering teams probably already know what the most prevalent failure mechanisms are and how to catch them before they cause a problem… why not provide this knowledge in a form that makes it easy to deploy?

A few visionary suppliers are starting to talk about “self-diagnosing” and “self-healing" equipment… but it will be a small and exclusive group for a while – join them.

Readiness for Factory Acceptance

checklistBefore the fab’s automation team can fully integrate a new piece of equipment, it must follow a rigorous acceptance process that includes a comprehensive set of interface tests for standards compliance, performance, and reliability. This process is vital because solid data collection capability is fundamental for rapid process qualification and yield ramp that shorten a new factory’s “time to money.” If you know what acceptance tests and related software tools the fab will use (which is now explicit in the latest EDA purchase specifications), you can purchase the same software tools, perform and document the results of these same tests before shipping the equipment. 

This will undoubtedly speed up the acceptance process, and your customers will thank you for the effort you took to put yourself in their shoes. Incidentally, this usually means the final invoice for the equipment will be paid sooner, which is always a good thing.Red_smart_factory-TW

In Conclusion

In this posting, we have only scratched the surface regarding the sources of competitive differentiation. As you can see, choosing a commercial platform enables this far more readily than the in-house alternative, because it allows your development team to focus on the topics above rather than worrying about compliance to the standards. If you’d like to know more, please give us a call or click below to talk schedule a meeting. 

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Topics: Industry Standards, EDA/Interface A, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Cimetrix Products

IPC Apex 2019 recap

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Feb 7, 2019 2:30:00 PM

apex19-logoIPC Apex Expo is one of the largest gathering of professionals from the printed circuit board and electronics manufacturing industry (EMS). Attendees and exhibitors come from around the world to participate in the expo, the technical conferences and Standards Development meetings. This is the third year in a row that Cimetrix has exhibited at the IPC Apex conference.apex demoCimetrix features the latest in Smart Factory and Equipment Connectivity technology. For the show this year, we chose to upgrade our booth space, allowing us to have more meeting room within the booth as well as several prominent demo stations in each corner. We also featured a popular Virtual Reality station in our booth. We brought a great team of ten to the show this year to staff the booth, give demo’s and greet the many attendees who stopped by throughout the 3 day expo.Bob VR

We chose to participate in the popular Passport to Prizes game for the second year in a row. This sponsorship is a great tool to get the Cimetrix name out in the industry. It also brings in many attendees to our booth for some great conversations about our products and services.

We also had to opportunity for the Cimetrix Vice-President and General Manager of Smart Factory Business, Ranjan Chatterjee, to be interviewed by SCOOP TV both one-on-one and as part of a larger panel discussion. You can view Ranjan's one-on-one interview in the Cimetrix Resource Center.

To learn more about our products or services, you can schedule a meeting any time. 

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

CCF为实施工厂自动化提供了一条捷径: CCF Gives an Easy Way to Implement Factory Automation

Posted by Yufeng Huang; Software Engineer China on May 10, 2018 11:37:00 AM

Yufeng Huang of Cimetrix China, talks about Equipment Control in the factory. Read now in Chinese or below in English.

在和半导体设备制造公司的接触中我们遇到这么一个尴尬的问题,很多懂得设备控制的优秀软件工程师对于GEM,GEM300和EDA标准不是很有经验。这些公司往往是在设备在实验室研发成功,准备产业化送入客户工厂时发现设备没有实现或只有部分实现GEM/GEM300标准,尤其是当客户工厂要求EDA(Interface A)通信接口的时候,这些设备制造商的软件工程师往往一脸茫然,不知道如何在短时间内开发出完全遵循GEM/GEM300/EDA标准的软件。

对于大多数设备公司而言,限制于有限的人力、财力资源,公司很难聘请到足够多富有经验的工厂自动化软件工程师开发自己的GEM/GEM300,甚至EDA软件模块。另外一个棘手的问题是我们发现很多软件工程师不是特别有意愿加入到半导体行业,而是选择比较热门的互联网、游戏,手机App等软件行业。纵观半导体工厂自动化软件市场,虽然已有多家公司提供GEM/GEM300/EDA的软件开发包(SDK),但软件工程师仍旧需要掌握一定的工厂自动化基础知识才能着手编写软件集成代码。工厂自动化涉及大量SEMI标准,譬如GEM标准大概有450页文档,包括E4,E5E30E37,E37.1,E172,E173,GEM300标准大概有280页文档,包括E39,E40,E87,E90,E94,E116,E157,E148,而更为复杂的EDA标准大概480有页文档,包括E120,E125,E128,E132,E134,E138,E164,对于大多数非专业的工厂自动化软件工程师而言,工厂自动化软件的集成工作是一件极其繁琐而艰难的任务。


Cimetrix Control FrameworkTM (CCF)
是基于微软.Net技术的设备自动化控制软件框架,该软件不仅为设备制造厂商提供了监督控制和生产控制框架代码,而且完全实现了GEM/GEM300/EDA标准。借助CCF软件平台,软件工程师无需深刻掌握工厂自动化的所有SEMI标准,就能轻松变身为工厂自动化开发专家。CCF软件框架内的工厂自动化模块基于Cimetrix公司的CIMConnect,CIM300,CIMPortal Plus三个独立的软件开发套件(SDK)实现,分别对于实现GEM,GEM300,和EDA标准。全球任意一家300mm的芯片制造工厂都有安装了CIM300软件的设备运行,在支持EDA数据采集的工厂都有安装了CIMPortal Plus软件的设备运行。CCF软件框架将所有工厂自动化的开发工作交给Cimetrix公司来完成,设备软件工程师可以把更多的时间花费在如何设计自己的设备控制软件上。

在CCF框架下,CIMConnect/CIM300/CIMPortal Plus的底层API函数都被很好作了封装,软件工程师只需通过CCF框架提供的函数或接口就能轻松实现和工厂主机程序的所有GEM/GEM300标准。实现EDA标准的一个重要任务是创建一个支持分层次结构的设备模型,以及按照标准生成XML数据,此外生成的模型还需满足E164标准。在CCF软件初始化运行时会动态生成设备模型,软件工程师几乎不需要书写EDA代码,设备即可很好的遵循EDA标准。lego brick building is like CCF

采用CCF软件框架降低设备控制程序和工厂自动化程序的开发难度和开发周期,但并不意味着我们的客户一定得推翻自己已有的软件平台或已经测试过的稳定代码。CCF是一个提供源代码的完全开放的自动化控制程序框架,你可以将CCF理解成一个已经拼好的乐高玩具,用户既可以将自己的代码模块集成到CCF中,也可以挑选部分CCF功能模块并将其转移到用户自己的框架中。我们用户将CCF中工厂自动化模块(包括GEM/GEM300/EDA)搬迁到自己的程序框架中,在保证完全遵循工厂自动化诸多SEMI标准的同时,对用户已有程序的影响非常小。

得益于CCF框架的完全开放性,像玩乐高积木一样,软件工程师可以轻松享受自由裁剪自己想要的控制系统框架带来的乐趣,这是其他任何一家提供设备控制软件框架程序的公司都很难做到的一件事情。

在未来几年,越来越多的工厂往智能生产制造的方向发展,由此对数据的需要越来越高,EDA标准越来越成为工厂主流的数据采集方法,CCF无疑成为了设备制造商更快更好实现各种工厂自动化标准的最佳武器。 


We encountered an interesting issue when working with semiconductor equipment manufacturing companies. Many excellent software engineers who know equipment control are not very experienced with the GEM, GEM300, and EDA standards. Sometimes after equipment is successfully developed in the laboratory and before the equipment is shipped to the factory, we discover that the equipment did not implement or only partially implemented the required GEM/GEM300/EDA standard. This is especially prevalent when the factory requires the EDA (Interface A) communication interface. Equipment software engineers sometimes do not know how to develop software that fully complies with GEM/GEM300/EDA standards in a short period of time.

For most equipment companies with limited human and financial resources, it is difficult for the company to have the resources to develop their own GEM/GEM300/EDA software. Another issue is that we have found many of the more experienced software engineers are more interested in high-profile  internet, gaming, mobile phone apps and other software industries rather than the lower profile semiconductor industry.  Although many companies in the semiconductor factory automation software market have provided GEM/GEM300/EDA software development kits (SDKs), software engineers still need to master certain basic knowledge of factory automation to start writing software integration code. Factory automation involves a large number of SEMI standards. For example, the GEM standard has about 450 pages of documents, including E4, E5, E30, E37, E37.1, E172, E173. GEM300 standards have about 280 pages of documents, including E39, E40, E87, E90, E94, E116, E157, E148. The more complex EDA standard has about 480 pages, including E120, E125, E128, E132, E134, E138, E164. For less experienced factory automation software engineers, the integration of automation software can be an extremely tedious and difficult task.

Cimetrix CIMControlFrameworkTM (CCF) is an equipment automation control software framework based on Microsoft .Net technology. This software not only provides equipment manufacturers with supervisory control and equipment control framework code, but also fully implements the GEM, GEM300 and EDA standards. With the help of the CCF software platform, software engineers can easily turn into factory automation development experts without having to master all the factory automation SEMI standards. The factory automation components within the framework of the CCF software are based on CIMConnect, CIM300, and CIMPortal Plus, three independent software development kits (SDKs) from Cimetrix for the implementation of the GEM, GEM300, and EDA standards, respectively. All 300mm chip manufacturing factories in the world have equipment installed which uses CIM300 software. Any factory requiring EDA data collection has equipment installed that uses CIMPortal Plus software. With the CCF software framework, Cimetrix has already done the work of integrating all factory automation into the framework. The equipment software engineer can spend more time on how to develop their own equipment control software.

Under the CCF framework, the underlying API functions of CIMConnect/CIM300/CIMPortal Plus are well encapsulated. Software engineers can easily implement all the GEM/GEM300/EDA standards of the factory host program through the functions or interfaces provided by the CCF framework. An important task in implementing the EDA standard is to create an equipment model that supports hierarchical structures and generate XML data in accordance with standards. In addition, the generated model must also meet the SEMI E164 standard. The equipment model is dynamically generated when the CCF software is initialized. The software engineer needs to do very little to have an equipment control application that is fully compliant with the EDA standard.lego brick building is like CCF

The use of the CCF software framework to reduce the difficulty and development cycle of equipment control programs and factory automation programs does not mean that our clients must replace their existing software platforms or stable code that has been tested. CCF is a fully open automation control program framework that provides source code. You can think of CCF as a LEGO toy that has been put together. Users can either integrate their own code modules into CCF or select some of the CCF functional modules and transfer them to their own framework. Our clients can reuse the factory automation modules (including GEM/GEM300/EDA) in CCF in their own program frameworks. While ensuring that all SEMI standards for factory automation are fully complied with. The impact on the user's existing programs is minimal.

Thanks to the complete openness of the CCF framework, like LEGO bricks, software engineers can easily enjoy the freedom of tailoring the control system framework that they want. It is hard for any company that provides an equipment control software framework program to implement such a rich library of functions. 

In the next few years, more and more factories will move in the direction of smart manufacturing. As a result, the demand for data is getting higher and higher. EDA standards are increasingly becoming the factory's mainstream data collection method. CCF will undoubtedly become the best weapon for equipment manufacturers to quickly and completely implement the various factory automation standards.

Topics: Industry Standards, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, Equipment Control-Software Products, Cimetrix Products