Industry News, Trends and Technology, and Standards Updates

Semiconductor Back End Processes: Adopting GEM Judiciously

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on May 14, 2020 10:20:17 AM

Equipment Communication Leadership in Wafer Fabrication

For many years the semiconductor industry’s wafer fabrication facilities, where semiconductor devices are manufactured on [principally] silicon substrates, have universally embraced and mandated the GEM standard on nearly 100% of the production equipment. This includes the complete spectrum of front end of line (FEOL – device formation) and back end of line (BEOL – device interconnect) processes and supporting equipment. Most equipment also implement an additional set of SEMI standards, often called the “GEM 300” communication standards because their creation and adoption coincided with the first 300mm wafer manufacturing. Interestingly, there are no features in these standards specific to a particular wafer size.shutterstock_405869995_backend

Together, the GEM and GEM 300 standards have enabled the industry to process substrates in fully automated factories like Micron demonstrates in this video and GLOBALFOUNDRIES demonstrates in this video.

Specifically, the GEM 300 standards are used to manage the following crucial steps in the overall fabrication process:

  • automated carrier delivery and removal at the equipment
  • load port tracking and configuration
  • carrier ID and carrier content (slot map) verification
  • job execution where a recipe is assigned to specific material
  • remote control to start jobs and respond to crisis situations (e.g., pause, stop or abort processing)
  • material destination assignment after processing
  • precise material location tracking and status monitoring within the equipment
  • processing steps status reporting
  • overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) monitoring

Additionally, the GEM standard enables

  • the collection of unique equipment data to feed numerous data analysis applications such as statistical process control
  • equipment-specific remote control
  • alarm reporting for fault detection
  • interaction with an equipment operator/technician via on-screen text
  • preservation of valuable data during a communication failure

Semiconductor Back End Process Industry Follows the Lead

After wafer processing is completed, the wafers are shipped to a semiconductor back end manufacturing facility for packaging, assembly, and test. Historically this industry segment has used GEM and GEM 300 sporadically but not universally. This is now changing.

In North America, SEMI created a new task force called “Advanced Back end Factory Integration” (ABFI) to organize and facilitate this industry segment’s implementation of more robust automation capabilities. To this end, the task force is charged with defining GEM and GEM 300 support in back end equipment, including processes such as bumping, wafer test, singulation, die attach, wire bonding, packaging, marking, final test and final assembly. As its first priority, the task force has focused on updating the SEMI E142 standard (Substrate Mapping) to enhance wafer maps to report additional data necessary for single device traceability. Soon the task force will shift its focus to define GEM and GEM 300 back end use cases and adoption more clearly.

Why GEM?

GEM was selected for several reasons.

  • A lot of the equipment in the industry already have GEM interfaces.
  • GEM provides two primary forms of data collection that are suitable for all data collection applications. This includes the polling of equipment and process status information using trace reports where the factory can collect selected variables at any frequency. Additionally, collection event reports allow a factory system to subscribe to notifications of just the collection events it is interested in, and to specify what data to report with each those collection events.
  • Most of the equipment suppliers have GEM experience either from implementing GEM on the back end equipment or from implementing GEM on their frontend equipment.
  • Factories can transfer experienced engineers from semiconductor frontend facilities into the back end with the specific goal of increasing back end automation.
  • GEM has proven its flexibility to support any type of manufacturing equipment. GEM can be implemented on any and all equipment types to support remote monitoring and control.
  • GEM is a highly efficient protocol, publishing only the data that is subscribed to in a binary format that minimizes computing and network resources.
  • GEM is self-describing. It takes very little time to connect to an equipment’s GEM interface and collect useful data.
  • GEM can be used to control the equipment, even when there are special features that must be supported. For example, it is straightforward to provide custom GEM remote commands to allow the factory to determine when periodic calibrations and cleaning should be performed to keep equipment running optimally.

Improved Overall Equipment Effectiveness Tracking

The ABFI task force has already proposed some changes to the SEMI E116 standard (Specification for Equipment Performance Tracking, or EPT). EPT is one of several standards that can be implemented on a GEM interface to provide additional standardized performance monitoring behavior beyond the GEM message set. This standard already enables reporting when equipment and modules within the equipment are IDLE, BUSY and BLOCKED. A module might be a load port, robot, conveyor or process chamber. When BUSY, this standard requires reporting what the equipment or module is doing. When BLOCKED, this standard requires reporting why the equipment or module is BLOCKED.

After analyzing the requirements of the back end industry segment, the task force decided to adopt and enhance the EPT standard. For example, the current EPT standard does not make any distinction between scheduled and unscheduled downtime. However, a few minor changes to E116 would allow the factory to notify the equipment when downtime is scheduled by the factory, greatly enhancing the factory’s ability to track overall equipment effectiveness and respond accordingly.  

Additional Future Work

Many of the GEM 300 standards can be applied to some of the back end equipment when applicable and beneficial. The task force is defining specific functional requirements and evaluation criteria to make these determinations and publish the resulting recommendations in a new standard. Representatives from several advanced back end factories are already closely involved in this work, but more participation is always welcome. For more information, click the button below!

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Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, Customer Support, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Cimetrix Products

The Convergence of Technologies and Standards in Smart Manufacturing Blog

Posted by Ranjan Chatterjee on Apr 22, 2020 11:45:00 AM

Feature by Ranjan Chatterjee, CIMETRIX
and Daniel Gamota, JABIL

Abstract

The vertical segments of the electronic products manufacturing industry (semiconductor, outsourced system assembly, and test, and PCB assembly) are converging, and service offerings are consolidating due to advanced technology adoption and market dynamics. The convergence will cause shifts in the flow of materials across the supply chain, as well as the introduction of equipment and processes across the segments. The ability to develop smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0 enabling technologies (e.g., big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud/edge computing, robotics, automation, IoT) that can be deployed within and between the vertical segments is critical. The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI) formed a Smart Manufacturing Technology Working Group (TWG) that included thought leaders from across the electronic products manufacturing industry. The TWG published a roadmap that included the situation analysis, critical gaps, and key needs to realize smart manufacturing.

Click here for the original article
Article First Posted by SMT007 Magazine

Introduction

The future of manufacturing in the electronics industry is dependent on the ability to develop and deploy suites of technology platforms to realize smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0. Smart manufacturing technologies will improve efficiency, safety, and productivity by incorporating more data collection and analysis systems to create a virtual business model covering all aspects from supply chain to manufacturing to customer experience. The increased use of big data analytics and AI enables the collection of large volumes of data and the subsequent analysis more efficient. By integrating a portfolio of technologies, it has become possible to transition the complete product life cycle from supplier to customer into a virtual business model or cyber-physical model. Several industry reports project manufacturers will realize tens of billions of dollars in gains by 2022 after deploying smart manufacturing solutions. In an effort to facilitate the development and commercialization of the critical smart manufacturing building blocks (e.g., automation, machine learning, or ML, data communications, digital thread), several countries established innovation institutes and large R&D programs. These collaborative activities seek to develop technologies that will improve traceability and visualization, to enable realtime analytics for predictive process and machine control, and to build flexible, modular manufacturing equipment platforms for highmix, low-volume product assembly.

The vertical segments of the electronic products manufacturing industry (semiconductor (SEMI), outsourced system assembly, and test (OSAT), and printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) are converging, and service offerings are being consolidated. This occurrence is due to the acceleration of technology development and the market dynamics, providing industry members in specific vertical segments an opportunity to capture a greater percentage of the electronics industry’s total profit pool.

The convergence of the SEMI, OSAT, and PCBA segments will cause shifts in the flow of materials across the supply chain, as well as the introduction of equipment and processes across the segments (e.g., back-end OSAT services offered by PCBA segment). OSAT services providers are using equipment and platforms typically found in semiconductor back-end manufacturing, and PCBA services providers are installing equipment and developing processes similar to those used by OSAT.

The ability to develop smart manufacturing technologies (e.g., big data analytics, AI, cloud/ edge computing, robotics, automation, IoT) that can be deployed within the vertical segments as well as between the vertical segments is critical. In addition, the ability to enable the technologies to evolve unhindered is imperative to establish a robust integrated digital thread.

As the electronic products manufacturing supply chain continues to evolve and experience consolidation, shifts in the traditional flow of materials (e.g., sand to systems) will drive the need to adopt technologies that seamlessly interconnect all facets of manufacturing operations. The iNEMI Smart Manufacturing TWG published a roadmap that would provide insight into the situation analysis and key needs for the vertical segments and horizontal topics (Figure 1) [1].

Horizontal-topics-across-vertical-segments

In this roadmap, the enabling smart manufacturing technologies are referred to as horizontal topics that span across the electronics industry manufacturing segments: security, data flow architecture, and digital building blocks (AI, ML, and digital twin).

The three electronics manufacturing industry segments SEMI, OSAT, and PCBA share some common challenges:•

  • Responding to rapidly changing, complex business requirements
  • Managing increasing factory complexity
  • Achieving financial growth targets while margins are declining
  • Meeting factory and equipment reliability, capability, productivity, and cost requirements
  • Leveraging factory integration technologies across industry segment boundaries
  • Meeting the flexibility, extendibility, and scalability needs of a leading-edge factory
  • Increasing global restrictions on environmental issues

These challenges are increasing the demand to deploy, enabling smart manufacturing solutions that can be leveraged across the verticals.

Enabling Smart Manufacturing Technologies (Horizontal Topics): Situation Analysis

Many of the challenges may be addressed by several enabling smart manufacturing technologies (horizontal topics) that span across the electronics industry manufacturing segments: security, data flow, and digital building blocks. The key needs for these are discussed as related to the different vertical segments (SEMI, OSAT, and PCBA) and the intersection between the vertical segments.

Members of the smart manufacturing TWG presented the attribute needs for the following: security, data flow, digital building blocks, and digital twin. Common across the vertical segments is the ability to develop and deploy the appropriate solutions that allow the ability to manufacture products at low cost and high volume. Smart manufacturing is considered a journey that will require hyper-focus to ensure the appropriate technology foundation is established. The enabling horizontal topics are the ones that are considered the most important to build a strong, agile, and scalable foundation.

Security Security is discussed in terms of two classes: physical and digital. The tools and protocols deployed for security is an increasingly important topic that spans across many industries and is not specific only to the electronics manufacturing industry. Security is meant to protect a number of important assets and system attributes that may vary according to the process (novel and strong competitive advantage) and perceived intrinsic value of the intellectual property (IP).

In some instances, it directly addresses the safety of workers, equipment, and the manufacturing process. In other cases, it transitions toward the protection of electronic asset forms, such as design documents, bill of materials, process, business data, and others. A few key considerations for security are access control [2], data control [3], input validation, process confidentiality, and system integrity [2].

At the moment in manufacturing, in general, IT security issues are often only raised reactively once the development process is over and specific security-related problems have already occurred. However, such belated implementation of security solutions is both costly and also often fails to deliver a reliable solution to the relevant problem. Consequently, it is deemed necessary to take a comprehensive approach as a process, including implementation of security threat identification and risk analysis and mitigation cycles on security challenges.

Data Flow

General factory operations and manufacturing technologies (i.e., process, test, and inspection) and the supporting hardware and software are evolving quickly; the ability to transmit and store increasing volume of data for analytics (AI, ML, predictive) is accelerating. Also, the advent and subsequent growth of big data are occurring faster than originally anticipated. This trend will continue highlighting existing challenges and introducing new gaps that were not considered previously (Figure 2).

As an example, data retention practices must quickly evolve; it has been determined that limitations on data transmission volume and length of data storage archives will disappear (e.g., historical data retention of “all” will become standard practice). Examples of data flow key considerations are data pipes, machine-tomachine (M2M) communication, and synchronous/ asynchronous data transmission.

A flexible, secure, and redundant architecture for data flow and the option considerations (e.g., cloud, fog, versus edge) must be articulated. The benefits and risks must be identified and discussed. Data flow and its ability to accelerate the evolution of big data technologies will enable the deployment of solutions to realize benefits from increases in data generation, storage, and usage. These capabilities delivering higher data volumes at real-time and nearreal- time rates will increase the availability of equipment parameter data to positively impact yield and quality. There are several challenges and potential solutions associated with the increases in data generation, storage, and usage; capabilities for higher data rates; and additional equipment parameter data availability.

The primary topics to address are data quality and incorporating subject-matter expertise in analytics to realizing effective on-line manufacturing solutions. The emergence of big data in electronics manufacturing operations should be discussed in terms of the “5 Vs Framework”:

  1. Volume
  2. Velocity
  3. Variety (or data merging)
  4. Veracity (or data quality)
  5. Value (or application of analytics)

The “5 Vs” are foundational to appreciate the widespread adoption of big data analytics in the electronics industry. It is critical to address the identified gaps—such as accuracy, completeness, context richness, availability, and archival length—to improve data quality to support the electronics manufacturing industry advanced analytics [4].

connectivity-architecture-smart-manufacturing-functionality

Digital Building Blocks

The advancements in the development of digital building blocks (interconnected digital technologies) are providing digitization, integration, and automation opportunities to realize smart manufacturing benefits. These technologies will enable electronics manufacturing companies to stay relevant as the era of the digitally- connected smart infrastructure is developed and deployed. Several technologies considered fundamental digital building blocks are receiving increased attention in the electronics manufacturing industry (e.g., AI, ML, augmented reality, virtual reality, and digital twin).

AI and ML

AI and ML tools and algorithms can provide improvements in production yields and quality. These tools and algorithms will enable the transformation of traditional processes and manufacturing platforms (processes, equipment, and tools). The situation analysis for AI and ML, as well as their enablers, typically consider the following features and operational specifications: communications at fixed frequency, commonality analysis, material and shipment history and traceability, models for predicting yield and performance, predefined image processing algorithms, secure gateway, warehouse management systems.

AI and ML present several opportunities to aggregate data for the purpose of generating actionable insights into standard processes. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Preventive maintenance: Collecting historical data on machine performance to develop a baseline set of characteristics on optimal machine performance, and to identify anomalies as they occur.
  2. Production forecasting: Leveraging trends over time on production output versus customer demand, to more accurately plan production cycles.
  3. Quality control: Inspection applications can leverage many variants of ML to fine-tune ideal inspection criteria. Leveraging deep learning, convolutional neural networks, and other methods can generate reliable inspection results, with little to no human intervention.
  4. Communication: It is important for members of the electronics manufacturing industry to adopt open communication protocols and standards [5–8].

Digital Twin Technology

The concept of real-time simulation is often referred to as the digital twin. Its full implementation is expected to become a requirement to remain cost-competitive in legacy and new facility types. Digital twin will initially be used to enable prediction capabilities for tools and process platforms that historically cause the largest and most impactful bottlenecks. The ultimate value of the digital twin will depend on its ability to continue to evolve by ingesting data and the availability of data with the “5 Vs”: veracity, variety, volume, velocity, and value. The situation analysis of the digital twin within and between electronics industry manufacturing segments highlight the following data considerations: historical, periodic, and reactive.

The concept of a digital twin lends itself to on-demand access, monitoring and end-toend visualization of production, and the product lifecycle. By simulating production floors, a factory will be able to assess attainable projected KPIs (and what changes are required to attain them), forecast production outputs, and throughputs through a mix of cyber-physical realities (the physical world to the virtual world, and back to the physical world), and expedite the deployment of personnel and equipment to manufacturing floors worldwide.

Enabling Smart Manufacturing Technologies (Horizontal Topics): Key Attribute Needs

Security

Security will continue to be a primary concern as the electronics manufacturing industry adopts technologies and tools that rely on ingested data to improve manufacturing quality and yield and offer differentiated products at a lower cost and higher performance. SEMI members generated a survey to appreciate the needs, challenges, and potential solutions for security in the industry and its supply chain and gather more comprehensive input from the industry in terms of users, equipment and system suppliers, security experts, and security solution providers [9]. It is a topic that permeates many facets of manufacturing: equipment, tools, designs, process guidelines, materials, etc. Processes continue to demand a significant level of security to minimize valuable know-how IP loss; this requirement will generate the greatest amount of discussion such as data partitioning, production recipes, equipment, and tool layout. A few key attribute needs for security are network segmentation [10], physical access, and vulnerability mitigation.

These security issues are not unique to microelectronics manufacturing, and many of the issues go beyond manufacturing in general. The topic of security should reference the challenges and potential solutions across the manufacturing space. As an example, the IEC established an Advisory Committee on Information Security and Data Privacy [11figuredfdafdfd. It is suggested to collaborate with other standards and industry organizations that are developing general manufacturing security roadmaps by delineating specific microelectronics manufacturing issues and focusing on common needs.

Data Flow

The development of a scalable architecture that provides flexibility to expand; connect across the edge, the fog, and the cloud; and integrate a variety of devices and systems generating data flow streams is critical. A smart factory architecture may, for example, accommodate the different verticals in the electronics manufacturing industry as well as companies in non-electronics manufacturing industries.

As mentioned previously, different industries seeking to deploy smart manufacturing technologies should leverage architectures thatprovide the desired attributes; data flow architecture is considered a prime candidate for leveraging and cross-industry collaboration to identify optimum solutions (i.e., data synchronizers, execution clients).

The development and deployment of technologies for data flow are accelerating. Focus on data analytics, and data retention protocols are increasing at a faster rate than first anticipated. It is imperative to collect the critical data as well as to establish guidelines to perform intelligent analysis and to exercise the appropriate algorithms to specify data-driven decisions. Several topics related to data are under consideration, such as general protocols:

  • “All” versus “anomaly” data retention practices
  • Optimization of data storage volumes
  • Data format guidelines for analytics to drive reactive and predictive technologies
  • Data quality protocols enabling improvements in time synchronization, compression/uncompression, and blending/merging
  • Guidelines to optimize data collecting, transferring, storing, and analyzing

Data considerations for equipment are:

  • Defining context data sets for equipment visibility
  • Improving data accessibility to support functions
  • Data-enabled transition from reactive to redictive functionality
  • Data visibility of equipment information (state, health, etc.)

Digital Building Blocks

The ability to deploy the necessary digital building blocks to realize smart manufacturing is at different stages of maturity.

AI and ML

A few key attribute needs for AI and ML are data communication standards, data formatting standards, and 3PL tracking solutions. Technologies, such as AI and ML, are seen as enablers to transition to a predictive mode of operation: predictive maintenance, equipment health monitoring, fault prediction, predictive scheduling, and yield prediction and feedback. This paradigm in AI-enhanced control systems architectures will enable the systems to “learn” from their environment by ingesting and analyzing large data sets. Advanced learning techniques will be developed that improve adaptive model- based control systems and predictive control systems. The continued development and assessment of AI and ML technologies is critical to establish the most robust and well-tuned prediction engines that are required to support emerging production equipment.

Digital Twin Technology

Advances in digital twin technologies are accelerating as the potential benefits are communicated to end-users. Also, the costs for enabling technologies (hardware and software platforms) are becoming less expensive. The following are considered key attribute needs that will increase adoption and broad-based deployment of the digital twin (product design, product manufacturing, and product performance: digital thread, predictive, prescriptive, and systemwide continuous data access.

Digital twin is a long-term vision that will depend on the implementation of discrete prediction capabilities (devices, tools, and algorithms) that are subsequently integrated on a common prediction platform. It is generally considered that the digital twin will provide a real-time simulation of facility operations as an extension of the facility operations system.

The successful deployment of digital twin in a facility environment will require high-quality data (e.g., accuracy, velocity, dynamic updating) to ensure the digital twin is an accurate representation of the real-time state of the fab. Also, the realization of this vision will depend on the ability to design an architecture that provides the key technologies to operate collaboratively by sharing data and capabilities. Ultimately, the success of the digital twin will depend on the ability to develop a path for implementation that provides redundancy and several risk assessment gates.

Prioritized Research, Development, and Implementation Needs

The topic of collaboration is often mentioned in industry-led initiatives as a key element to realize the benefits attributed to smart manufacturing. There is a strong drive by members of the electronics manufacturing industry to engage in activities that foster collaboration. Participants in these activities recognize that solutions must be consensus-based and adopted by many vendors. Equipment suppliers appreciate that deep domain knowledge combined with data analysis contributes to only a fraction of the potential value that can be captured. The optimal value will be realized when data is shared across manufacturing lines in facilities, with vertical segment industry supply chain members and across vertical segments.

Example prioritized research, development, and implementation needs topics are as follows:

  • Define data flow standard interfaces and data formats for all equipment and tools
  • Investigate if data flow continuity between vertical segments should be mandatory or optional
  • Determine optimal operation window for the latency of data versus process flow and quantify permissible latency for data flow when used to determine process go/no-go
  • Investigate data security and encryption requirements when sharing common process tools versus isolating process equipment between vertical segments
  • Develop open and common cross-vertical-segments communication standards and protocols for equipment

Gaps and Showstoppers

There is universal agreement that digitization will drive huge growth in data volumes. Many predict that cloud and hybrid cloud solutions are critical to enable the storage and subsequent manipulation of data by AI algorithms to derive value. However, industry members must adopt consensus-based standards and guidelines for connectivity protocols and data structures (Figure 4). Smart manufacturing is a journey, and a robust and scalable connectivity architecture must be established on which to deploy digital building blocks (e.g., AI, ML to extract the optimal value from the data). 

cross-segments-standard-equipment-connectivity-smart-manufacturing

Example critical gaps that could significantly impact the progress of the deployment and adoption of smart manufacturing are:

  • Undefined data security between vertical segments
  • Lack of machine interface standardization for data flow
  • Undefined data formats for data flow
  • Data vulnerability when security is breached
  • Robust and scalable connectivity architecture across electronics vertical segments to enabling smart manufacturing functionality (event and alarm notification, data variable collection, recipe management, remote control, adjustment of settings, interfacing with operators, etc.)

Summary

The iNEMI Smart Manufacturing Roadmap Chapter provides the situation analysis and key attribute needs for the horizontal topics within the vertical segments as well as between the vertical segments. Also, the chapter identifies the primary gaps and needs for the horizontal topics that must be addressed to enable the realization of smart manufacturing:

  • Definitions: Smart manufacturing, smart factory, Industry 4.0, AI, ML, etc.
  • Audits for smart manufacturing readiness: Develop consensus-based documentation, leverage published documents (e.g., Singapore Readiness Index [12])
  • Security: Best practices, physical, digital, local and remote access, etc.
  • Equipment diversity and data flow communications: Old, new, and mixture
  • Data attribute categorization and prioritization: Volume, velocity, variety, veracity, and value
  • Cost versus risk profile versus ROI
  • Talent pool (subject-matter experts): Data and computer scientists, manufacturing engineers, and automation
  • Standards and guidelines: Data formats and structures, communication protocols, and data retention
  • Open collaboration: SEMATECH 2.0

The gaps and needs that were identified for addressing require additional detail for the status of the different vertical segments to appropriately structure the initiatives. It was suggested to circulate surveys to gather the information to appreciate the issue. One survey format was suggested as an example template: Manufacturing Data Security Survey for IRDS FI Roadmap [13].

iNEMI, together with other organizations, such as SEMI, can organize workshops to facilitate collaboration between the electronics manufacturing industry stakeholders. In addition, iNEMI can establish cross-industry collaborative projects that can develop the enabling technologies to address the roadmap identified needs and gaps to realize smart manufacturing.

Further, organizations, such as iNEMI and SEMI, can collaborate to establish guidelines and standards (e.g., data flow interfaces and data formats) as well as lead groups to develop standards for equipment and tool hardware to reduce complexity during manufacturing. Also, iNEMI can engage other industry groups to foster the exchange of best practices and key knowledge from smart manufacturing initiatives.

The members of the roadmap TWG are committed to provide guidance during the smart manufacturing journey—people, processes, and technologies. Members of the TWG also suggested engaging microelectronics groups as well as non-microelectronics groups to assess opportunities to leverage existing smart manufacturing guidelines and standards.

Acknowledgments

Thank you to the members of the iNEMI Smart Manufacturing TWG. Their dedication, thought leadership, and deep appreciation for SMT enabling technologies was critical to preparing the roadmap chapter.

In addition, we would like to thank the participants and facilitators of the SEMI Smart Manufacturing Workshop—Practical Implementations and Applications of Smart Manufacturing (Milpitas, California, on November 27, 2018). SMT007

References

1. 2019 iNEMI Roadmap.
2. U.S. National Institute Standard and Technology’s Special Publication 800-82.
3. U.S. National Institute Standard and Technology’s Special Publication 800-171.
4. IEEE International Roadmap for Devices and Systems, Factory Integration.
5. Japan Robot Association’s Standard No. 1014.
6. SEMI E30-0418, Generic Model for Communications and Control of Manufacturing Equipment (GEM); SEMI A1-0918 Horizontal Communication Between Equipment; SEMI E5-1217, Communications Standard 2 Message Content (SECS-II); SEMI E4-0418, Equipment Communications Standard 1 Message Transfer (SECS-I).
7. Hermes Standard.
8. IPC-CFX Standard.
9. J. Moyne, S. Mashiro, and D. Gross, “Determining a Security Roadmap for the Microelectronics Industry,” 29th Annual SEMI Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Conference (ASMC), pp. 291–294, 2018.
10. IEC 62443 3-2.
11. www.iec.ch/acsec.
12. EDB Singapore, “The Singapore Smart Industry Readiness Index,” October 22, 2019.
13. www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZXLS6LH.

Ranjan Chatterjee is vice president and general manager, smart factory business, at Cimetrix.

Dan Gamota is vice president, manufacturing technology and innovation, at Jabil.


Click here for the original article
Article First Posted by SMT007 Magazine

Feature by Ranjan Chatterjee, CIMETRIX
and Daniel Gamota, JABIL

Editor’s note: Originally titled, “The Convergence of Technologies and Standards Across the Electronic Products Manufacturing Industry (SEMI, OSAT, and PCBA) to Realize Smart Manufacturing ” this article was published as a paper in the Proceedings of the SMTA Pan Pacific Microelectronics Symposium and is pending publication in the IEEE Xplore Digital Library.

 

 

 

Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Customer Support, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Cimetrix Products

GEM: Meeting Future Needs by Building on the Stability of the Past

Posted by David Francis: Director of Product Management on Jan 8, 2020 11:00:00 AM

Mechanic-working-on-a-diesel-filter-close-up-629x419-CopyAs a young boy, I liked to work on the family car with my dad. He taught me how to change the oil, check the spark plugs, replace the shock absorbers, adjust the timing and lots of other tasks that were common on older cars. I remember the first time he let me use the socket wrench. I thought it was the greatest tool ever invented. I could loosen bolts, then moving a small switch into a different position, the same wrench could now tighten bolts. It is a very versatile tool, one I still make sure to have handy to this day. 

I appreciate having well-designed tools available that can be used in a variety of situations. In my career, these tools have sometimes been software tools. I have spent a lot of my career working with equipment connectivity standards and seeing the benefits of having process equipment connected to a factory control system. Whether it is for full equipment control, or just to monitor and gather data from the equipment, having a robust connection to equipment is valuable.  

When I first started connecting equipment to factory control systems, the GEM standard had not been finalized. There was a lot of variability in the SECS message implementations available from the different equipment vendors. I was almost always able to get the equipment connected to the factory system, but generally each connection was custom to that equipment vendor and equipment type. This meant that each connection took far too much time to complete and made supporting different equipment very difficult. 

Once the GEM standards were finalized and adopted, there was now a versatile way to provide consistency and reusability across equipment types and across equipment vendors. Connecting to different types of equipment was principally a configuration task instead of a custom coding task.  

In addition, industry standard compliance test tools were developed to ensure compliance with the GEM standards and harden the implementations for reliable production use. This increased reliability helped drive the adoption and implementation of GEM in the global semiconductor front-end manufacturing industry. As a result, GEM has become a well-established reliable communication standard that is widely used and accepted.  

As other segments of the semiconductor and related electronics manufacturing markets have looked to connect equipment to their factory control systems, many have evaluated GEM and other communication standards to provide this functionality. In some cases, GEM was considered too old, too complex, or not a good fit. But, like the versatile socket wrench, many industry segments have seen the value of the stability and proven nature of GEM. They found that the socket wrench (GEM) was the right toolthey just needed a different sized socket (industry-specific guidance) to fit their needs. Let’s look at a few examples.  

SEMI PV2 

large solar farm in England producing electricityIn 2007, when the photovoltaic industry wanted to increase manufacturing efficiencies and reduce costs, they looked to implement industry-wide standards. They formed the Photovoltaic Equipment Interface Specification Task Force to define the interface between the factory control system and the equipment. 

The task force created two working sub-teams to evaluate existing solutions and the requirements of the industry. Several existing solutions such as SECS/GEM, EDA, OPC-UA, and XML were evaluated based on functionality, reliability, extendibility, and the ability to be integrated into different environments. The conclusion of both teams was to build on the SEMI GEM (E30) standard.  

The socket wrench (GEM) was the right tool, and a new socket (SEMI PV2) provided the required fit for their equipment and industry. 

HB-LED 

In 2010, when the high-brightness light-emitting diode (HB-LED) industry started their search for connectivity standards. They needed something that would allow low-cost, common hardware and software interfaces, and other means to enable HB-LED factories to effectively utilize multiple equipment types from multiple vendors in a highly automated manufacturing environment. 

This search found that the best course was to leverage the functionality, reliability, and extendibility of GEM. The SEMI HB4: Specification of Communication Interfaces for High-Brightness LED Manufacturing Equipment (HB-LED ECI) defines the behavior of HB-LED equipment and is based on the SEMI E30 (GEM) standard.  

Again, the socket wrench (GEM) was the right tool. What they needed was a socket (HB4) that would meet the needs of their industry. 

PCBECI 

In February 2019, the Taiwan Printed Circuit Association (TPCA) initiated an activity seeking to boost network connectivity of PCB equipment and help PCB makers implement smart manufacturing practices in the industry.  

The result of this effort was the publication in August of 2019 of the SEMI A3: Specification for Printed Circuit Board Equipment Communication Interfaces (PCBECI). This is a robust and comprehensive shop-floor communication standard that specifies the detailed, bidirectional communications needed to improve productivity and reduce the costs to develop equipment interfaces for PCB manufacturing. The SEMI A3 (PCBECI) standard is based on the SEMI E30 (GEM) standard. 

Yet again, the socket wrench (GEM) was the right tool and all that was needed was a socket for their specific needs (PCBECI).  

It is understandable to think of GEM as an old and complex standard. It has been around for years and can be difficult to understand. However, it has continued to be reviewed and updated as manufacturing needs have changed. As different market segments have looked for equipment communication standards to meet their specific needs, several have found that the functionality, reliability, extendibility and the ability to be integrated into different environments provided by GEM was the right tool. All that was needed were some companion specifications related to GEM to provide a better fit for their requirements. 

Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

Why implement a SECS GEM driver?

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Dec 12, 2019 2:15:00 PM

A SECS GEM driver can be looked at from a factory or equipment supplier perspective. I will discuss both of them in that order.

Factory Perspective

A little background:

semiconductor-factory-1

From a factory perspective, a SECS GEM driver is the host software that talks to an equipment’s GEM interface. It allows the factory to take advantage of the features implemented in each equipment’s GEM interface. However, what the factory can do with an equipment’s GEM interface is also limited by what the equipment supplier has included in that interface. The GEM standard is very flexible and scalable, which accounts for the widespread and growing adoption of GEM technology—it can be adapted to any manufacturing equipment and market segment.

It is possible to implement features in a GEM interface. But this also means that just having a GEM interface on the equipment does not ensure that it has been correctly designed to meet the factory’s expectations. An equipment supplier’s poor implementation of GEM can frustrate a factory’s plans for Smart Manufacturing by not providing features that the factory expects that could have been implemented. The tendency of most equipment suppliers is to implement the absolute minimum functionality in a GEM interface to save money. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the factory during equipment acceptance to evaluate the GEM interface to make sure that it is robust and has the full set of required features. The factory must have a clear vision of its needs both initially and later as its Smart Manufacturing goals are realized. It is not unusual for a factory to request an upgrade to an equipment’s GEM interface with more features, but these modifications usually come at a cost.

Although a factory’s SECS GEM driver must be adaptable to different suppliers’ GEM implementations, it only needs to support the specific features that the factory uses. For example, if the factory is only concerned about alarm and event report notification, then it does not need to support the messages for recipe management, remote control or trace data collection. As such, the investment in a SECS GEM driver is proportional to the number of GRM features that are utilized. However, the SECS GEM driver should also support variations in alarm and collection event implementations, because each equipment type will support a unique set of alarms and a unique set of collection events with unique data variable for event reports. Moreover, from equipment type to equipment type, the same collection ID might have different meanings. The SECS GEM driver therefore needs an ability to adapt by having a method to characterize the GEM implementation (such as a list of available collection events) and the ability to map a general capability to the actual implementation (such as “material arrived” = collection event ID 5).

So why would a factory want to use SECS GEM technology?

factory-alan-1In order to reach the goals of Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing, factories must be able to monitor and control manufacturing equipment remotely. Therefore the equipment must have a software interface to provide this functionality and the factory must be able to access and use this interface.

Factories could let the equipment suppliers choose their own implementation technologies for this kind of capability, but as a result, different suppliers might take a different approach for every equipment type. This would be tremendously expensive and resource intensive. It is far better to standardize on one or two technologies, and ideally, one that is proven to work and known to have all of the necessary features. This allows the factory to achieve its goals with minimum investment, focusing instead on using the equipment interface in creative ways to improve manufacturing.

SECS GEM is the most proven technology already widely used across the globe and supported by the most sophisticated and automated industry in the world; semiconductor manufacturing. It is also widely adopted several other industries, making it a safe choice. The range of production applications supported by SECS GEM data collection include productivity monitoring, statistical and feedback/feedforward process control, recipe selection and execution tracking, fault detection and classification, predictive maintenance, reliability tracking, and many more. By contrast, alternatives to SECS GEM have so far been demonstrated to be incomplete or immature solutions. 

What specifically can you do with the SECS GEM technology?

  1. Collection Events: Be notified when things happen at the equipment, such as when processing or inspection begins and completes, or when a particular step in a recipe is reached.
  2. Collection Event Reports: Collect data with collection events. The host chooses what data it wants to receive. For example, track the ID of material arriving and departing from the equipment, or components placed on a board.
  3. Alarms: Be notified when bad or dangerous things are detected, receive a text description of the alarm condition, and when the issue is cleared.
  4. Trace Data Collection: Tell the equipment to report status information (software and/or hardware data) at a specific interval. For example, track digital and/or analog sensors during processing at 10 Hz frequency.
  5. Recipes: Upload, download, delete and select recipes as desired, whether in ASCII or binary formats. Make sure that the right recipe is run at the right time to eliminate misprocessing and minimize scrap. Track when someone changes a recipe.
  6. Remote Commands: Control the equipment, such as when to start, stop, pause, resume and abort. Custom commands, such as calibrate, skip or anything else can be supported.
  7. Equipment Constants: Configure and track the equipment configuration settings remotely.
  8. Terminal Services: Interact with the equipment operator remotely or provide instructions for the operator.
  9. Extensions: There are numerous extensions to GEM that can be supported but are not yet form requirements. For example, implement wafer or strip maps from E142 to provide and report details about material in XML format.

Equipment Supplier Perspective

AdobeStock_12291008-1

From an equipment supplier’s perspective, a SECS GEM driver is the software used to implement GEM technology on the equipment. In other words, the software to create a GEM interface. The equipment-side software requirements are inherently more complex that the host SECS GEM driver. This is because the equipment-side features are precisely defined by the GEM standard and should be implemented to the fullest extent possible. By contrast, the host can really do whatever it wants, so a limited implementation may be sufficient. In an ideal situation, the equipment supplier will implement just enough features in its GEM interface to satisfy all of its customers and therefore ship an identical GEM interface to all its customers. It is up to the equipment supplier to decide what GEM features to implement and how to adapt them for a particular type of equipment, but the factory should provide clear expectations about its planned use of the interface. It is also the factory’s responsibility to qualify the GEM interface during equipment acceptance. Note that it is not uncommon for factories to withhold partial equipment payment until the GEM interface has also passed its own acceptance.

Some equipment suppliers include the GEM driver as a standard feature on all equipment. This is ideal because it makes the GEM interface much easier to support and distribute. Some equipment suppliers only install GEM when it is specifically purchased. This often results in installation problems because the field technicians may or may not be knowledgeable enough or specifically trained to do this correctly. Other equipment suppliers include the GEM driver on all equipment, but only enable it when the feature has been purchased. This is better than attempting GEM interface installation after equipment delivery because the GEM interface can often be enabled with a simple equipment configuration setting.

Here are some key reasons for implementing a SECS GEM driver:

1. “One ring to rule them all”

By implementing a GEM interface, an equipment supplier can avoid having to implement multiple interfaces. Because GEM is the most feature complete option, the it should be implemented first and Thoroughly integrated with the equipment control and user interface software. If other protocols must be supported, they can usually be mapped onto the GEM capabilities or a separate external system because they only include a subset of GEM functionality.

2. Equipment Supplier Application Software

If the GEM implementation includes support for multiple host connections, then the GEM interface can be used by the equipment supplier itself for many applications. For example, an equipment supplier can develop a software package that monitors and controls their specific equipment at a factory. This can run simultaneously and independently while the factory GEM host software is connected. Many factories are willing to buy applications from the equipment supplier that enhance the productivity of the equipment they have purchased. As an example, equipment suppliers are better equipped to develop predictive maintenance applications that determine when parts are approaching failure and need replacement. These applications can save the factory time and money by avoiding unscheduled downtime. Other applications can also be developed by equipment suppliers to analyze and optimize equipment execution.

3. Competitive Advantage

A well implemented GEM interface can differentiate a supplier’s equipment from that of its competitors. Factories are beginning to recognize the value in controlling and monitoring equipment remotely, and know that a poor GEM interface contributes nothing to a factory’s Smart Manufacturing initiatives. A GEM interface that goes the extra mile to be truly useful empowers the factory to excel at Smart Manufacturing and to be far more productive. Selling equipment in today’s market without a GEM interface is like selling a television without a remote. On the other hand, providing a fully featured GEM interface is like selling a smart television.

Final Words

Experts on GEM technology are available all over world. Because GEM is a mature industry standard and well defined, it can be implemented by anyone in a range of different programming languages and operating systems. however, to save time I recommend using a commercially available product rather than developing the complete GEM interface from scratch. This can save massive amounts of time and effort, and ensures the quality of the resulting implementation.

To speak with a Cimetrix GEM expert, or to find out more about our GEM software products, you can schedule a meeting by clicking the link below.

Ask an Expert

Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

Resources Round-up: Presentations

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Oct 3, 2019 11:16:00 AM

Resource Center-1The Cimetrix Resource Center is a great way to familiarize yourself with standards within the industry as well as find out about new and exciting technologies. 

Our resource center features information about 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 the electronics assembly, semiconductor, SMT and other 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 many presentations featured in our resource center provide in-depth coverage from Cimetrix expert's presentations at many different conferences and expos around the world. Some of our most popular presentations are below.

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

Resources

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

Resources Round-up: Videos

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Aug 3, 2019 1:28:00 PM

Resource Center-1The Cimetrix Resource Center is a great way to familiarize yourself with standards within the industry as well as find out about new and exciting technologies.

Our resource center features information about 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 the electronics assembly, semiconductor, SMT and other 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 videos and video series featured in our resource center provide in-depth coverage of some of these concepts.  Some of our featured videos are below.

Be sure to stop by our Resource Center any time or watch the videos directly from the links in this posting.

Resources

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

Standards Made Simple #1 – GEM (Generic Equipment Model)

Posted by Ranjan Chatterjee on Jul 10, 2019 10:54:00 AM

Ranjan-Chatterjee-2017-industriesIn this our first standard overview, we look at GEM. At its history, its application and its suitability for use in the smart factories of today and the future.

Overview

The GEM standard defines a software interface that runs on manufacturing equipment. Factories use the GEM interface to remotely monitor and control equipment. The GEM interface serves as a broker between the factory host software (host) and the manufacturing equipment’s software. Because the GEM standard is an open standard, anyone can develop GEM capable host or equipment software.

The GEM standard is published and maintained by the international standards organization SEMI based in Milpitas, CA, USA. SEMI uses the standard designation “E30” to identify the GEM standard with the publication month and year appended as four numbers to designate a specific version. For example, E30-0418 identifies the version of the GEM standard published in April of 2018.

The GEM/SECS-II standards are protocol independent. Today, there are two protocols defined by SEMI: SECS-I (E4) for serial communication and HSMS (E37) for network communication. SECS stands for ‘SEMI Equipment Communications Standard’ and HSMS stands for ‘High-Speed SECS Message Services’.

Not surprisingly, most systems today are using the HSMS. HSMS does not specify the Physical Layer. Any physical layer supported by TCP/IP can be used, but typically everyone uses an Ethernet network interface controller (NIC) with an RJ45 port. When using the SECS-I standard, the messages size is limited to 7,995,148 bytes (about 8MB).

The GEM standard is built on top of SEMI standard SECS-II (E5). The SECS-II standard defines a generic message layer to transmit any data structure and defines a set of standard messages each with a specific ID, purpose and format.

History and Adoption

GEM was developed by the semiconductor industry to allow fabricators to connect and manage multiple machines in billion dollar facilities all around the world.

GEM is the adopted technology by factories worldwide because it is mature and supports all the features required now and expected in the future. GEM allows the same technology and software to be used to integrate multiple equipment and process types, independent of supplier.

The GEM standard is used in numerous manufacturing industries across the world, including semiconductor front end, semiconductor back end, photovoltaic, electronics assembly, surface mount technology (SMT), high brightness LED, flat panel display (FPD), printed circuit board (PCB) and small parts assembly. The adaptability of the GEM standard allows it to be applied to just about any manufacturing industry.

All semiconductor manufacturing companies including Intel, IBM, TSMC, UMC, Samsung, Global Foundries, Qualcomm, Micron, etc., currently use the GEM standard on all manufacturing equipment and have for many years. This includes 300mm, 200mm and 150mm wafer production.

GEM was successful enough early on that SEMI developed and currently uses several additional factory automation standards based on GEM technology. These additional standards are referred to as the GEM 300 standards, named because of their widespread adoption by the factories dedicated to the manufacturing of 300mm wafers.

In 2008, the photovoltaic (solar cell) industry officially adopted GEM with SEMI standard PV2 (Guide for PV Equipment Communication Interfaces) which directly references and requires an implementation of the GEM standard. In 2013, high-brightness LED industry created a similar SEMI standard HB4 (Specification of Communication Interfaces for High Brightness LED Manufacturing Equipment). Recently, the printed circuit board association has followed in the same path with ballot 6263 (Specification for Printed Circuit Board Equipment Communication Interfaces). All three standards similarly define implementations of the SEMI standard that increase GEM’s plug-and-play and mandate only a subset of GEM functionality to facilitate GEM development on both the equipment and host-side.

Several additional SEMI standards have been created over the years to enhance GEM implementations and are applicable to any industry and equipment. E116, Specification for Equipment Performance Tracking, defines a method to measure equipment utilization as well as the major components within the equipment. E157, Specification for Module Process Tracking, allows an equipment to report the progress of recipe steps while processing. E172, Specification for SECS Equipment Data Dictionary, defines an XML schema for documenting the features implementing a GEM interface. E173, Specification for XML SECS-II Message Notation, defines an XML schema for logging and documenting messages.

Flexibility and Scalability

GEM requirements are divided into two groups; Fundamental Requirements and Additional Capabilities. Any equipment that implements GEM is expected to support all the Fundamental Requirements. Additional Capabilities are optional and therefore are only implemented when applicable. This makes the GEM standard inherently flexible so that both a simple device and a complex equipment can implement GEM.

GEM easily and inherently scales to the complexity of any system. A simple device need only implement the minimum functionality to serve its purpose. Whereas complex equipment can implement a fully featured GEM interface to allow the factory to fully monitor and control its complex functionality. GEM also allows multiple host applications to connect to an equipment.

The requirements in that the GEM standard only apply to the equipment and not the host. This means that equipment behavior is predictable, but the host can be creative and selective choosing to use whichever features from the equipment’s GEM interface to attain it goals.

Our Seven Point Checklist

Remember our simple seven-point checklist for connectivity from our original article:

  • Event Notification – real-time notification of activity & events
  • Alarm Notification – real-time notification of alarms & faults
  • Data Variable Collection – real-time data, parameters, variables & settings
  • Recipe Management – process program download, upload, change
  • Remote Control – start, stop, cycle stop, custom commands
  • Adjust Settings – change equipment settings & parameters
  • Operator Interface – send & receive messages to/from operator

Put simply GEM succeeds in each of these areas and you can find more detail by downloading our white paper or watching the videos on our website.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a tried and tested standard that can be applied to any smart manufacturing ecosystem, no matter how large, it’s hard to beat GEM. The semiconductor industry is one of the most demanding and expensive industries in the world and they have done the work for everyone else at great cost and over many years. Industries like PCB fabrication are adopting this standard rather than developing their own for good reason, they need something that can be applied quickly, reliably, economically and at scale.

Forgive the pun but, we believe GEM is the gold standard for standards. We’ve been working with it successfully for decades in the semiconductors industry and more recently in PCB and SMT facilities. In some cases, we have deployed GEM at the request of OEM customers to drive greater control and traceability in their supply chain.

GEM White Paper

This blog was first posted on EMSNow.com.

Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

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

Do you need help with GEM Testing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy EquipmentTest Today

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