Industry News, Trends and Technology, and Standards Updates

A Successful SEMICON West 2019 is in the Books!

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Jul 18, 2019 11:19:00 AM

SEMICON West_BS_RGB_vert-187776-editedSEMICON West 2019 has come and gone! The annual trade show and technical conference was held this year at Moscone Center in San Francisco and turned out to be a very busy time for the Cimetrix team. The trade show lasted three days and filled two halls, including the newly renovated South Hall. We had many meetings with current clients, met with new potential clients and even made a few new friends along the way.

Team-semicon-west-1This year has been an interesting one, with the semiconductor capital equipment industry seeing a downturn. In January at ISS, the consensus was the trough for semiconductor capital equipment makers would be Q2 with growth returning in Q3 and Q4. Now, the consensus is the recovery in the chip memory market and manufacturing expansion may not happen until mid-2020. However, people also say the visibility is only for the next 3-6 months, so this could change. Many of our customers are affected by this downturn – the severity varying by their customer base and territory. Customers that are focused solely on semiconductor 300mm wafer fabs with a strong exposure to memory, have been hit the hardest with declines in revenue up to 50% from 2018 levels. Customers that have more diverse product lines and sell to semiconductor back-end or electronics markets are doing much better. While this downturn is affecting our customers to varying degrees, we had many executive meetings with virtually all of them expressing continued satisfaction and appreciation regarding the high quality of our products and technical support.

Brian-speaker-1-1We also had two speakers at the Meet-the-Experts tech stage within the Smart Manufacturing Pavilion. Brian Rubow, Director of Solutions Engineering, spoke on how to get the most out of the GEM standard, including following what the standard says and fixing implementations using sound software practices. You can view his presentation here. Alan Weber, VP of New Product Innovations also spoke on Addressing Connectivity Challenges of Disparate Data Sources in Smart Manufacturing, addressing the road to the smart, digital and connected factory. You can view his presentation here.

 

Cimetrix continues to strengthen our relationship with SEMI by our global leadership and participation in SEMI standards meetings as well as our sponsorship of the Smart Manufacturing Pavilion. We sponsored a kiosk in the Pavilion where we connected our new Sapience platform for Smart Manufacturing to a BTU reflow oven, which generated quite a bit of excitement.

SEMI Standards meetings continue to be a priority for Cimetrix. We are well represented at the standards meetings by chairing/co-chairing various committees and attending/participating in others. The following are some of the areas of significance.

  • The DDA task force continues to develop EDA Freeze 3 standards with adoption of cutting edge gRPC technology to improve performance.
  • The Fab & Equipment Computer and Device Security (CDS) Task Force received approval for two SNARFs (Standards New Activity Report Form) - "SNARF: Specification for Application Whitelisting" and "SNARF: Malware Free Equipment Integration". The SNARFs were created by the CDS task force and approved by the Information and Controls global technical committee which Brian co-chairs.
  • The North American Information & Control Committee at SEMI established a new task force Advanced Backend Factory Integration (ABFI) to define and update standards to meet the needs of the semiconductor backend industry. Brian Rubow from Cimetrix, Dave Huntley from PDF Solutions are two of the task force co-leaders.

During the SEMICON West show, an article was published, written by Cimetrix VP and GM, Smart Factory Solutions Ranjan Chatterjee and Dan Gamota, VP, Manufacturing technology and Innovation for Jabil. The article called “Smart Manufacturing Roadmap: Data Flow Considerations for the Electronics Manufacturing Industry” can be found here. This article identifies technology gaps and needs, and offers recommendations to guide the electronics manufacturing industry in realizing the benefits of smart manufacturing and is sponsored by iNEMI. Mr. Chatterjee and Mr. Gamota are co-chairs of the new smart manufacturing chapter of iNEMI.

The Cimetrix team was excited to once again be an exhibitor and sponsor of the SEMICON West show. This is always a great show and we were very pleased to attend once again. We are already looking forward to SEMICON West 2020!

To view the presentations from SEMICON West, and many more, click on the button below.

View Presentations

Topics: Events, Global Services, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

It's Only One Week Until SEMICON West! Cimetrix will be there, will you? Join us at Booth #1644

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Jul 3, 2019 10:51:00 AM

SEMICON West_BS_RGB_vert-187776-editedSEMICON West is almost here and we’re excited to once again be participating this year as both an exhibitor and as a sponsor of the Smart Manufacturing Pavilion! Visit us any time at our booth 1644 in the South Hall, at our kiosk (#1364) in the Smart Manufacturing Pavilion, or at the Meet the Experts Theater which will feature Cimetrix speakers on Tuesday and Wednesday.

SEMICON West will once again be held in the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA, USA from July 9-11. The theme this year is “Insight, Innovations & Intelligence: Our industry – and the world – is moving beyond smart.” We couldn’t be more excited about the momentum of the semiconductor industry. As Industry 4.0 and the demand for Smart Manufacturing solutions have become more prevalent, we’ve seen our market expand beyond the equipment manufacturers to encompass all phases of the electronics manufacturing process and corresponding elements of the supply chain. To achieve a smart, connected factory, you must first have equipment that can communicate effectively, which is where Cimetrix has always excelled. Our well-known and award-winning products enable every semiconductor manufacturer in the world to connect their equipment to the factory information and control systems. SEMICON West has always been an important event for meeting with current clients, making new contacts, collaborating in the SEMI Standards community, and developing relationships with thought leaders across the manufacturing spectrum.semi-west-jesse

The rapid and continuous growth of manufacturing data is now driving demand for new analysis technologies that can further leverage its value. The Smart Manufacturing Pavilion is a great place to see some of the breakthroughs that are creating smarter processes and spurring innovation across the industry.  The pavilion once again includes a Meet the Experts Theater, and Cimetrix has two opportunities to address the audience. Brian Rubow, Director of Solutions Engineering, will speak on “Getting the Most from the GEM Standard” on Tuesday July 9 from 1:30 – 2:00 pm. Alan Weber, VP of New Product Innovation, will talk about “Addressing the Connectivity Challenges of Disparate Data Sources in Smart Manufacturing” on Wednesday July 10 from 3-3:30 pm.  

The Smart Manufacturing Pavilion and its Meet the Experts Theater are in the South Hall and we hope to see you there! Or, as always, you can visit our booth 1644 any time during the show.

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Topics: Events, Global Services, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

New SEMI Standards for Flow Manufacturing Automation Demonstrated at JISSO PROTEC!

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations on Jun 26, 2019 10:59:00 AM

Jisso-ProtecCimetrix attended the recent JISSO PROTEC exhibition (June 5-7, 2019) at the Tokyo Big Sight International Exhibition Center to see the latest developments in SMT (Surface Mount Technology) manufacturing… and witnessed a truly compelling demonstration of the new SEMI Flow Manufacturing communications standards in action.

Jisso-1The new suite of standards is named SMT-ELS (Surface Mount Technology-Equipment Link Standards), and includes SEMI A1/1.1 as a lower-level messaging standard with SEMI A2 SMASH (Surface Mount Assembler Smart Hookup) defining the content of the messages required to configure an SMT manufacturing line and automate the material and information transfer among all equipment in that line. This is depicted in the figure below.

Jisso-2

The demonstration itself included placement equipment from 4 large equipment suppliers—Fuji, JUKI, Panasonic, and Yamaha—as well as load/unload stations and a bar code reader at the beginning of the line (see picture below). Each of these companies had implemented the “horizontal” (machine-to-machine) communications according to the SMT-ELS standards. The demonstration consisted of an operator scanning one of the stack of input boards with the barcode reader, placing it on the loader conveyor, and then watching as each piece of equipment automatically adjusted its internal conveyor to accept the board, run through its part placement recipe, and pass the board to the next equipment in the line, finally arriving at the unload station conveyor after a minute or so.

Jisso-3

Jisso-4

Before a fully automated multi-vendor production SMT line can be implemented, more work on the standards is necessary, especially in the area of error handling and recovery. In addition, the suppliers of other (non-placement) equipment types must adopt this approach. However, given the factory benefit of mixing equipment from multiple suppliers to optimize line performance for a specific set of products, this is only a matter of time.

If you want to know more about the status and outlook of these standards, and how they can be implemented in your equipment or factory, please contact us.

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Topics: Industry Standards, Events, Global Services, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

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!

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

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.

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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!

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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!

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

SEMICON China 2019, one of the largest SEMICON Shows ever, is in the books!

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Mar 28, 2019 12:22:50 PM

Read the Post-show report of the SEMICON China 2019 show today. Read it now in Chinese or below in English.

SEMICON China 20193月20日至22日在上海国际博览中心举行的SEMICON China 2019,不仅是全球规模最大的SEMICON展会,还与Productronica China, Electronica China和FPD China同时举办,集高科技领域于一体,令人惊叹。因此,SEMICON中国吸引了世界领先的技术公司,这些公司设计、开发、制造和供应驱动着当今最复杂的消费和商业产品的微电子产品。这个庞大的群体为这个行业创造了巨大的能量和令人兴奋的事物!这是Cimetrix作为独立参展商参加展会的第一年,整个展会期间我们的展位都很忙碌! 我们的团队成员来自全球各地,包括中国大陆的黄玉峰和刘波(Clare Liu), 来自台湾的Samson Wang, 来自韩国的Hwal Song和来自美国的Bob Reback, Dave FaulknerBooth finished 2和Kim Daich。以我们传统的SECE/GEM和EDA产品为特色,我们的展位展示了各种设备的连接和控制解决方案。

总的来说,SEMICON China对Cimetrix来说是一个巨大的成功,我们对中国半导体市场的机遇有了第一手的了解。我们的客户也对我们的产品感到满意。展会已经结束,我们还有很多工作要做,去跟进的新需求和机会。

Final booth pic

要了解更多关于Cimetrix产品和服务的信息,您可以随时安排会议。

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SEMICON China1-1

SEMICON China 2019, held on March 20-22 at Shanghai International Expo Center, is not only the largest SEMICON show in the world, it was co-located with FPD China, Productronica China and Electronica China… an awe-inspiring collection of high technology at one venue. As such, SEMICON China attracts the world's leading technology companies who design, develop, manufacture, and supply the microelectronics that drive today's most sophisticated consumer and commercial products. The huge crowds created a tremendous amount of energy and excitement for the industry!Booth finished 2

This the first year Cimetrix participated as a stand-alone exhibitor, and we stayed very busy at our booth throughout the event! Our team consisted of a global group with Yufeng Huang and Clare Liu from China, Samson Wang of Taiwan, Hwal Song from Korea and Bob Reback, Dave Faulkner and Kim Daich from the U.S. And, featuring our traditional line of GEM (SECS/GEM) and EDA products, we had demos available in the booth for our full range of equipment connectivity and control solutions.Final booth pic

Overall, SEMICON China was a great success for Cimetrix, and we came away with first-hand knowledge of the scope of opportunity in the China semiconductor market. Our customers are happy and there is a lot of work to do now that the show is over to follow up with new leads and opportunities.

To learn more about Cimetrix products and services, you can schedule a meeting any time.

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

Will we see you at SEMICON China 2019?

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Mar 13, 2019 4:22:00 PM

SEMICON China 2019 is fast approaching and we will be there! You can read about it now in English or below in Simplified Chinese!

1550139700619Shanghai is the best place to be March 20 – 22 as it welcomes SEMICON China, Productronica China and more this year in the Shanghai New International Expo Centre. Cimetrix will be attending SEMICON China for our fourth straight year and we hope to see many of you there! Please drop by booth #N4- 4284 any time during the expo!

China is a growing market for the industry and for Cimetrix! We have expanded our office to better serve our customers as we expand throughout the region and we believe SEMICON China is the perfect place to come together with our current customers and many of the industry leaders.

The main focus of SEMICON China is to further the development of the China semiconductor and related emerging industries. You will see high-level executives from the semiconductor industry and others showcase their products and give presentations during this three-day show.

As we prepare for the show, we welcome any meeting requests by clicking the button below. Or you can always drop by our booth at any time. We hope to meet you there!

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15501397006193月20日至22日,上海新国际博览中心将迎来本年度的SEMICON China、Productronica China等诸多盛会。Cimetrix将连续第四年参加SEMICON China,我们诚挚的邀请您展会期间莅临N4-4284展位交流,由衷的希望能在那里见到各位!

对于整个半导体行业和Cimetrix来说,中国是一个不断增长的市场! 随着Cimetrix在全球规模的不断扩张,我们已经拓展了我们的办公区域,以更好地服务于我们的客户。我们相信,SEMICON China是与我们的客户和许多行业领导者相聚的完美地方。

SEMICON China的主要目标是进一步发展中国半导体及相关新兴产业。在为期三天的展会上,您将看到来自半导体行业和其他行业的高层管理人员展示他们的产品并发表演讲。

作为为展会做的准备,我们欢迎任何会议请求,点击下面的按钮。或者您可以随时莅临我们的展位。我们很希望在那里见到您!

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

Connectivity in The Age of Data

Posted by Ranjan Chatterjee on Feb 20, 2019 11:32:00 AM

ipcapex2019Our 2019 has started with a bang! First with CES (Consumer Electronics Show) at the beginning of January, rapidly followed by APEX at the end of the same month. What intrigues me is that the ingredient technologies promoted as essential to the success of autonomous driving, smart homes and smart cities at CES, are exactly the same as those discussed as enablers for smart manufacturing at APEX. The drive for Industry 4.0, like the drive for the digital transformation of our lives, will be built on connectivity, on data and, of course, on the actionable intelligence that is derived from that data.

At APEX, I spent a lot of my time listening to speakers, talking to our customers and prospects and sharing my own ideas with industry luminaries on panels. The story is extremely consistent. The fundamental need in the short term is to get everything in the factory, and in fact throughout the entire manufacturing ecosystem, connected and digitized. What is less consistent is the approach to doing that, with many making a simple process much more complex than it needs to be.One element which, to my mind, is creating unnecessary inertia, is the debate around standards. Within the industry there is considerable debate around the new standards. Whilst some great work has been done, and in many ways it is a fine example of how IPC can bring the industry together, the whole debate has made a simple task more complex than needed. Many users are asking which standard to use, do I need one or multiple, what machines connect to which standard and when will all the new standards be available everywhere?

Yes, the new standards could be good, but it certainly isn’t the only good standard, and it will take a long time to develop, debug, adopt and implement. The suppliers in the industry along with a few MES providers are quite animated about the new standards, but the EMS companies and OEMs making product as well as the PCB fabricators, and of course the semiconductor industry, are less excited. Many of them have existing communications standards like GEM, ELS, etc., that work perfectly well. Others have legacy machines that would need additional hardware and software to connect to new standards, but have some existing and functioning communications protocol.

The truth is connectivity should be simpler, and it can be. The semiconductor industry has been through this entire experience over the last two decades and many companies have successfully connected thousands of machines from hundreds of vendors in dozens of facilities in many countries. At Cimetrix, we have been working with them and have been delivering simple, scalable, economic connectivity solutions as well as the layers of analysis and intelligence that are built on top of that.

My advice to anyone starting their smart factory journey is to get the digitization and connectivity done and move onto building the digital building blocks of analytics and intelligence as well as value as quickly as possible. The inertia caused by worrying about standards is counter-productive and could cause companies to be left behind. They could also remain in the Proof-of-Concept purgatory forever.

One of the pleasing things about the debates and discussions related to smart factory at APEX is the willingness of vendors to collaborate. Most, if not all, recognize that smart factory solutions won’t come from a single vendor. Machine makers are also realizing that their deep domain knowledge combined with data manipulation only delivers part of the value and the way that data is shared on the line and beyond is where additional performance benefits can be found. There are now dozens of partnerships between the machines that collect data and those that use data, some in a closed loop but more recently in a manner that makes data available to whoever can derive value from it. These open communications and data formats will deliver real value in the future and make smart manufacturing a reality across the whole supply chain, from sand to phone.

There is a universal awareness that this digitization will drive a huge growth in data volumes. Many see cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as an important part of the data storage mix. Huge amounts of data also need manipulation and vendors are betting on AI (Artificial Intelligence) to help manage the data and derive real value.

It’s fascinating to see the ingredient technologies of the smart cities, smart homes and smart living, finding their way into smart factories and it will be exciting to see how the PCB and SMT industries utilize these huge leaps in progress driven by the consumer electronics world.

(This post first ran on EMSnow.com on February 14, 2019.)

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