Industry News, Trends and Technology, and Standards Updates

Resources Round-up: Ebooks

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Jun 19, 2019 11:23:00 AM

Resource Center-1The Cimetrix Resource Center is a great tool for anyone who wants to learn more about industry standards including Equipment Connectivity and Control, data gathering, GEM (SECS/GEM)EDA/Interface A, and more. These standards are among the key enabling technologies for the Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 global initiatives that are having a major impact on many industries. Manufacturers and their equipment suppliers must be able to connect equipment and other data sources, gather and analyze data in real time, and optimize production through a wide variety of applications. The free eBooks listed below provide in-depth coverage of the some of these concepts.  They have been written by technical experts who have participated in and led the standards development processes for more than two decades.

Be sure to stop by our Resource Center any time or download the white papers directly from the links in this posting.

Resources

Topics: Industry Standards, SECS/GEM, EDA/Interface A, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Programming Tools, Photovoltaic/PV Standards, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

Resources Round-up: White Papers

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Mar 26, 2019 11:15:00 AM

Resource Center-1The Cimetrix Resource Center is a great tool for anyone who wants to learn more about industry standards including GEM (SECS/GEM), GEM300, EDA/Interface A, and more. These standards are among the key enabling technologies for the Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 global initiatives that are having a major impact on many industries. Manufacturers and their equipment suppliers must be able to connect equipment and other data sources, gather and analyze data in real time, and optimize production through a wide variety of applications. The free white papers listed below provide in-depth coverage of the most broadly used equipment connectivity standards. They have been written by technical experts who have participated in and led the standards development process for more than two decades.

Be sure to stop by our Resource Center any time or download the white papers directly from the links in this posting.

Resources

Topics: Industry Standards, SECS/GEM, EDA/Interface A, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Programming Tools, Photovoltaic/PV Standards, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

New SEMI Standards Automation Technology Committee Formed

Posted by Cimetrix on Oct 15, 2014 11:36:00 AM

James Amano of SEMI, in the October 2014 SEMI Standards Watch, announced a new Automation Technology Committee whose mission is to bring together automation standards for the semiconductor, PV, HB-LED, and other related industries. The first chapters will be in Europe and Japan.

The new committee replaces the PV Automation Committee. That committee developed standards based upon the SECS/GEM standards were used by the photovoltaic equipment industry. Interestingly enough, programmable logic controller (PLC) manufacturers are now considering using those standards because they are general enough to support flow-oriented manufacturing in other industries.

Fab System Host 1 resized 600

Previously, different industry segments such as PV, FPD, and HB-LED addressed their automation requirements in separate committees. Now, the new committee will combine interests and resources into a single group.

 

Topics: Industry Standards, SECS/GEM, Photovoltaic/PV Standards

PV2 Workshop at SEMICON West 2012

Posted by Cimetrix on Jul 2, 2012 2:11:00 PM

 SEMICON West 2012

If you are attending SEMICON West in San Francisco, and you are interested in learning more about the SEMI PV2 equipment communication standard, consider one of the events presented by the PVGroup and SEMI. 

The Standards Technical Education Program (STEP): PV2 - Guide for PV Equipment Communication Interfaces (PVECI), held at the San Francisco Moscone Center, Tuesday, July 10, 2012, from 1:00PM to 5:00PM (PDT) provides background information on the standard and technical explanations of GEM and PV2 (PVECI). Cimetrix personnel will be on hand to present at the workshop.

The course will explore the content, usage, and benefits of the PV2 communications standard and associated SEMI guidelines, and discuss how the PV2 standard can help make the solar power industry more competitive amid consolidation of suppliers and other recent trends.

The workshop will provide:

    • Introduction and background of PV2 development

    • Brief history of SEMI communications standards

    • GEM concepts

    • PV2 Messages

    • PV2 Applications

    • Implementation of the PV2 standard

Attendees will learn the rationale and context of PV2, understand the set of SEMI Standards involved, and how PV2 is applied to host communications for PV equipment. If you are an engineer designing equipment for solar panel production, or if you are a field service engineer working with solar companies, or if you are a manager, process engineer,  equipment buyer, or software engineer, you should take a look at how the program can give you insights and understanding that will help you in your current assignment.

 

PV Group LogoSEMI Logo

Topics: Events, Photovoltaic/PV Standards

Implementing GEM and PV2 – what you should know

Posted by Cimetrix on May 4, 2012 10:08:00 AM

by Rob Schreck
Marketing Manager

As we gear up for SEMICON West, we are encouraged by some good news in the industry after enduring the bleak news of autumn and winter. SEMI reports the North American semiconductor capital equipment industry book-to-bill was over 1.0 in February and March of this year (see Semiconductor Equipment Industry Book-to-Bill), and the PV equipment book-to-bill ratio is starting back up (see PV Manufacturing Equipment Book-to-Bill Increases from Record Low). With the good news comes more companies developing new equipment, drawing more attention to SEMI standards such as SECS/GEM and PV2 (PVECI).

Understanding the SEMI SECS/GEM and PV2 standards, and the impact to their product roadmaps, might seem a little daunting for many equipment suppliers. We have updated a white paper to provide some background, called Introduction to the SEMI Standards: Implementing GEM and PV2.

This paper highlights key elements and issues associated with GEM software projects to help guide users toward a successful implementation.

A GEM (E30) interface is implemented by the equipment manufacturer to enable the equipment and factory software (a.k.a. “host”) to communicate using SECS-II (E5) messages via Ethernet.

 GEM Factory Host Interface resized 600

GEM standard compliance consists of fundamental requirements and additional capabilities, and compliance is only required for the equipment interface, not for the factory host software. Companies scale the GEM standard implementations to match the complexity of the equipment and the needs of the factory host software.

The GEM fundamental requirements include establishing communication with the factory host software, implementing a processing state machine, event notification, protocol error messages, and a GEM implementation document. Here is an example of such a document, and you can find a GEM compliance check list at Are You GEM Compliant?

GEM COMPLIANCE STATEMENT

FUNDAMENTAL GEM REQUIREMENTS

IMPLEMENTED

GEM COMPLIANT

State Models

□ Yes         □ No

□ Yes (see #1)

□ No

Equipment Processing States

□ Yes         □No

Host-Initiated S1,F13/F14 Scenario

□Yes          □No

Event Notification

□ Yes         □No

On-Line Identification

□ Yes         □ No

Error Messages

□ Yes         □ No

Documentation

□ Yes         □ No

Control (Operator Initiated)

□ Yes         □ No

ADDITIONAL CAPABILITIES

IMPLEMENTED

GEM COMPLIANT (see #2)

Establish Communications

□ Yes         □ No

□ Yes         □ No

Dynamic Event Report Configuration

□ Yes         □ No

□ Yes         □ No

Variable Data Collection

□ Yes         □ No

□ Yes         □ No

Trace Data Collection

□ Yes         □ No

□ Yes         □ No

Status Data Collection

□ Yes         □ No

□ Yes         □ No

Alarm Management

□ Yes         □ No

□ Yes         □ No

Remote Control

□ Yes         □ No

□ Yes         □ No

Equipment Constants

□ Yes         □ No

□ Yes         □ No

Process Recipe Management

□ Yes         □ No

Process Programs:  □ Yes         □ No

E42 Recipes:            □ Yes          □ No

E139 Recipes:          □ Yes          □ No

Material Movement

□ Yes         □ No

□ Yes         □ No

Equipment Terminal Services

□ Yes         □ No

□ Yes         □ No

Clock

□ Yes         □ No

□ Yes         □ No

Limits Monitoring

□ Yes         □ No

□ Yes         □ No

Spooling

□ Yes         □ No

□ Yes         □ No

Control (Host-Initiated)

□ Yes         □ No

□ Yes         □ No

GEM Compliance Statement

Much like how the GEM standard is a subset of the SECS-II standard with additional required features, the PV2 standard is a subset of the GEM standard with additional required features, which include:

  • The required format to use for data items in the SECS-II messages
  • A specific list of variables, equipment constants, and collection events
  • A subset of SECS-II messages
  • An implementation of SEMI E10 to report equipment states related to reliability, availability, and maintainability (RAM)
  • An implementation of the Network Time Protocol (NTP)
  • A statement of PV2 compliance

These PV2 requirements should make PV2-compliant equipment even easier than GEM to integrate with the factory host software.

 

Topics: Industry Standards, SECS/GEM, Photovoltaic/PV Standards

Long-Term Growth in the Photovoltaic (PV) Industry

Posted by Cimetrix on Apr 13, 2012 9:01:00 AM

by Rob Schreck
Marketing Manager

In March 2012, SEMI released a policy white paper that discusses the state of the photovoltaic (PV) solar industry in the United States and recommends actions the U.S. government should take to increase the manufacturing output and employment in the photovoltaic industry. The basis for the discussion is that the SEMI PV Group believes that solar is at the beginning of a long growth cycle.

Indeed, it is easy to understand the huge growth potential for solar. First, there is a rapid decline in the cost of generating solar power, as the paper explains (see Figure 1).

PV Decreasing Cost resized 600

Figure 1.

This cost decline is one factor in the rapid increase in demand forecasted by the International Energy Agency (see Figure 2).

 

PV Industry Growth Forecast
Figure 2.

Second, the U.S. and many other countries are seeking alternatives to petroleum as a primary energy source. As Bettina Weiss, executive director, SEMI Photovoltaics Business Unit, stated in the announcement of the white paper “Despite a significant contraction in the global PV market this year, solar is at the beginning of long-term growth cycle and will be a major contributor to energy independence and help the U.S. to break from its reliance on fossil fuels.”  

We at Cimetrix are seeing an increased interest in the PV2 standard. Companies want to know how they should use the interface standard as they develop new equipment for the solar industry. We have updated our Cimetrix Introduction to SEMI Standards: PV2 (PVECI) white paper to provide a tutorial for anyone who wants to know more about the standard. 

Topics: Photovoltaic/PV Standards

GEM 300 - All of This Chaos Makes Perfect Sense

Posted by David Francis: Director of Product Management on Jan 20, 2011 1:23:00 PM

by David Francis
Product Manager, Connectivity Products

Back in the 1990s, Joe Diffie released an album titled “Third Rock from the Sun.”  I have to admit I liked the title song, especially the chorus:

Cause and effect, chain of events
All of the chaos makes perfect sense
When you're spinning round
Things come undone
Welcome to Earth 3rd rock from the Sun.”

 Joe Diffie resized 600

At the time, I was working with Motorola in Austin developing host-side cell control applications for one of their new fabs.  Motorola had implemented some rudimentary equipment control and data collection in their older fabs, but the standards were loosely defined at that time and the equipment interfaces were inconsistent. We realized we could not replicate the work implemented in the old fabs into the new fabs, yet we did not have solid standards to use for the new fabs.  As the song said, we were “spinning round in this chaos.

What eventually drove more clarification in the GEM/GEM300 standards was the industry-wide push to move to fully automated 300mm IC manufacturing.  The larger wafers offer much greater productivity and throughput, with significantly lower cost per die, and SEMI wanted to ensure the industry had a well-understood and approved interface standard for the equipment used to manufacture semiconductors on these much larger wafers.  Those new standards made it easier and more cost effective to create the host-side cell control applications.  Now the chaos started to “make perfect sense.”

Embracing the GEM/GEM300 standards allowed IC manufacturers to purchase standard software components to analyze manufacturing processes and identify opportunities to increase productivity.  In other words, they wanted to bring order to all the chaos.  The alternative – developing their own data analysis applications for each fab – would have been very expensive and time consuming.  SEMI brought order to the scene by offering the GEM/GEM300 standards that all the equipment vendors and fabs could use.  Now OEMs could develop equipment needed for automated wafer processing with the confidence fabs could install the machines and link them to their networks.  Fabs could increase throughput and drive down cost per die, and, just as important, gather data necessary to increase manufacturing efficiencies even more.

Fast forward twenty years, and we see a very similar situation, this time caused by the impressive growth in Photovoltaic cell and LED manufacturing.  The fabs in those industries need more advanced equipment to increase throughput and drive down unit costs in order to meet demand.  However, up to this date, both sectors are reluctant to adopt the GEM standards.  They are concerned those standards may be too big and complex for their processes, which are simpler than the current state-of-the-art semiconductor fab processes.  Once again, we see the chaos that occurs with explosive growth and companies seeking a solution to bring order to their processes.

Since I’ve seen this story before - and heard the music played time and time again - I know that adopting communication standards will help PV and LED manufacturers continue their drive to reduce unit costs and drive demand.  The effort is underway in the PV sector with the PV2 standard.  The LED sector should also look to adopt existing standards, or do what the PV sector has done and develop their own standards.  Either way, we know that standards help all the “chaos make perfect sense.”

Topics: SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, Photovoltaic/PV Standards

Solar Energy, A Win-Win

Posted by Cimetrix on Jun 22, 2010 7:49:00 AM

by Peggy Faulkner,
Assistant Controller

"Pessimists are usually right and optimists are usually wrong but all the great changes have been accomplished by optimists. So what am I? I guess I would call myself a sober optimist...If you are not sober about the scale of the challenge, then you are not paying attention. But if you are not an optimist, you have no chance of generating the kind of mass movement needed to achieve the needed scale."
— Thomas L. Friedman, “Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—And How It Can Renew America”

Thomas Friedman, renowned New York Times columnist, author,Solar Energy and public speaker has been speaking and writing about the imperative need for American transition toward green energy for some time. His profound belief in superior American ingenuity and innovation, coupled with the rapidly growing world appetite for energy, is the potent recipe which should be directing our creative and practical energies toward a shift in US mentality that is not only good for our collective health, but also spells opportunity.

Photovoltaic production has been doubling every two years, increasing by an average of 48 percent each year since 2002, making it the world’s fastest-growing energy technology. The market research firm Gartner forecasts a 27% increase in semiconductor manufacturing in 2010, and a 35% increase in PV installations, even with the reduction of feed-in tariffs by the government in Germany, the world’s largest manufacturer of PV equipment.

Yet, as a developing industry, the PV arena has been evolving, and will continue to do so. Cimetrix has been involved in global efforts to define PV Standards through the PV-EIS Task Force since its inception in 2007. Standards were approved and published in June 2009, and Cimetrix engineers are uniquely qualified to understand and implement these standards as our PV customers adopt them.

All this bodes well for business, certainly in the short term. But another picture also emerges—one with cleaner air to breathe, fewer creatures futilely struggling to shed the oily coat imprisoning them, fewer distraught families hoping against dimming hope to see a loved one emerging from the mines, or watching fewer news images of the defeat and panic in the eyes of those who have lost their livelihood. Renewable energy sources can and will be a win-win for society and business alike. I, too, am an optimist. I know I’m on a winning team.

Topics: Photovoltaic/PV Standards

Windmills, solar panels and the effect of feed in tariffs

Solar Panels in Germanyby Bob Reback,
President and CEO

I always enjoy meeting with customers. I may be a little “old school,” but the personal touch of sitting across the table from someone, having a cup of coffee and learning firsthand what they think of our products, our people and our services is always educational, and even more so when the news is not good, as that gives us the opportunity to learn and improve going forward. Of course, the non-verbal communication is often times more important than the words, and you just can’t get that over the phone.

Due to the downturn in economic conditions during late 2008 and early 2009, we limited all company paid travel. As president, I also set the example to use the telephone and web conferences for most customer interactions. As business conditions began to improve in late summer of 2009, we began to relax our travel constraints. This led me to take a business trip to Europe to meet with some of our semiconductor customers as well as a few of our new PV customers.

Being on the road visiting customers usually involves a very full schedule, and Cimetrix business trips are even more so. This business trip started off meeting with customers in The Netherlands and then we drove across Germany meeting with customers in a number of cities as we made our way to our final destination in the Munich area. As we drove across Germany and stopped in a number of cities and small towns, I was surprised to see quite a few modern, high tech windmills, but I was shocked at the solar panels. We saw solar panels on the roofs of commercial buildings, residential building, farms and just about any type of structure with a roof. We saw solar panels in cities, towns and the countryside as we drove by on the Autobahn.

The German government has been the world leader in promoting renewable energy. The German government implemented a program of “feed in” tariffs that provide subsidies for entities (people, businesses, etc.) to install solar panels. As it was explained to me, it is typical in Germany to purchase electricity at a rate of say $0.08 to $0.10 per kilowatt hour. The government feed-in tariff means that if someone installs solar panels on their roof, the German government will guarantee that it will purchase all of the electricity from your solar panels for the next 20 years at the price of $0.45 per kilowatt hour. (Note that the feed-in tariffs decline every year). Since you have a guaranteed contract to sell this electricity to the government, people are able to go to a bank and borrow the funds to cover the upfront costs of installing the solar panels. Then the profit obtained on a monthly basis is sufficient to pay back the loan and interest charges. After about 10 years, the loan is paid off and then the person with the solar panels can enjoy the operating profits for the remaining years on the original 20 year contract. It was fascinating to see firsthand the results of this program, as well as have discussions with many of the German people. Not only did we discuss with many of the engineers that are our customers, but we had discussions with the average citizens in various restaurants and hotels. Everyone knew the term “PV” and there was certainly an air of excitement about leading the world in renewable energy.

You might ask, “How does this affect Cimetrix?” Well the theory is that government feed-in tariffs will stimulate demand, which in turn will stimulate production of more solar panels, which will then lead to improved efficiencies in both the technology used in solar panels as well as the economies of scale, which will ultimately lead to better price/performance solar panels that are cost effective on their own merits without government subsidies. Since solar panels are based on silicon or thin film substrates and have a similar manufacturing process to computer chips, there is a need to continually improve the manufacturing process to make better solar cells and lower the manufacturing costs. That is where factory connectivity and advanced software systems similar to those used in semiconductor manufacturing come into play. Many of the German PV manufacturers have adopted the “PV2” software for connecting manufacturing equipment with factory software. Cimetrix has enhanced its product offerings to meet these needs and hopes the industry is successful in promoting widespread usage of these PV software standards. If this happens, this should significantly increase the available market for Cimetrix products and services.

Topics: Industry Standards, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Photovoltaic/PV Standards

The Time for Solar is Now

Posted by Cimetrix on Oct 15, 2009 9:30:00 AM

by Stu Benger,
Director of Sales, North America

Solar PowerI’d like to draw your attention to two recent articles by Tom Friedman, a renowned columnist for the NY Times and one of my favorite authors. Tom is far greener than I; however, as an old economics major, I agree with him that it is the economics of the conservation energy that is most critical to our nation generally and the fledging Solar industry specifically. In the first article Tom discusses the growth in Applied’s Solar business and laments that the factories are being built in China. 

In the second article Tom goes on to say that the efforts by the Chinese in PV and their focus on Green Energy should be seen as an event similar to the Russian launch of Sputnik back in the 60’s an event that should be a clear call for action to spur the American people. Sputnik led to the “Space Race” and innovation in every phase of American life from Tang to the internet, but mostly it led to a huge interest in technology. And by the end of the Space Race, America was the technology leader in about every facet of industry one could imagine. However, over the past thirty years, we have turned our interest from making things to making money. We have allowed our best engineers to turn from tweaking hardware for best performance to tweaking trading algorithms that produce a bit more for the hedge funds. I think we need to take a hard look at what Mr. Friedman is saying and call on our Politicians to do the same.

Solar Power is an industry poised for huge growth. The economics of the industry, the high degree of automation that can be used makes this an ideal industry that might just allow the American Manufacturing Sector a chance to crawl back from the dead. If we don’t, I’m afraid it will be a long time before the next opportunity presents itself and when it does it will only be because our children are the new low cost manufacturing site for a dominant Chinese economy.

Cimetrix is dedicated to improving the efficiency of solar cell production and actively seeking avenues for assisting the US solar industry to achieve this goal. We have been involved in the PV-EIS Task Force since its inception. A world-wide factory automation software supplier to the semiconductor industry, Cimetrix is an expert in the SEMI connectivity standards and has already been working with members of the solar industry to implement the new PV2 standard. We offer a complete set of proven and efficient equipment communication software solutions for PV manufacturing.

Topics: Photovoltaic/PV Standards