Industry News, Trends and Technology, and Standards Updates

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 Standards, SECS/GEM, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

A Look Back at Our 2019 Year at Cimetrix!

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Jan 3, 2020 11:45:00 AM

2019-becoming-2020-580x290As hard as it is to believe, 2019 is over and 2020 has just begun! This is a great time to take a look back over the milestones and accomplishments of the Cimetrix team during 2019 and review some of the highlights! We are really proud of our team and we love to celebrate their hard work and accomplishments throughout the year.

Tradeshows and Events

Our team attended, presented and exhibited at more than 27 events this year. These events covered the U.S., Europe, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia and more. We were able to participate in some new shows and events this year including exhibiting at SEMICON Southeast Asia (Kuala-Lampur), co-exhibiting at iTap in Singapore, and hosting two of our own seminars in Thailand. We also exhibited in our own booth for the first time at SEMICON Japan.

SEMICON Southeast Asia was particularly interesting. By working closely with SEMI, Cimetrix had a new booth in the SEMI Smart Manufacturing Pavilion and an impressive demonstration in the SEMI Smart Manufacturing Journey including a demonstration of our smart factory platform Cimetrix Sapience®. You can read more about these events, at the links below and you can re-visit our entire events section on our blog at any time.

SEMICON Southeast Asia pre-show
SEMICON Southeast Asia post-show
SEMICON Japan pre-show
Cimetrix Events


Industry Standards

Discussion about industry standards has heated up in 2019, and we have continued publishing articles of interest about the GEM (SECS/GEM) standard, EDA/Interface A and others on our blog. Whether it's the semiconductor front-end or back-end industries, the SMT or PCBA industries, standards are top-of-mind right now. You can read some of our most popular articles below. 

Why Implement a SECS/GEM Driver
Multiple GEM Connections on Manufacturing Equipment
EDA Best Practices Series


Cimetrix EquipmentTest™

Cimetrix launched our first product available via e-commerce. This multi-protocol tester allows you to quickly validate your equipment's ability to connect to a factory control system. This product is available in both basic and pro versions, and you can find out more at the links below.

Cimetrix EquipmentTest
Leveraging Cimetrix EquipmentTest to Develop a Reliable SMT-ELS Interface
Do You Need Help with GEM Testing


Cimetrix Book Club

One of our most popular sections on our blog during 2019 was our Cimetrix book club. Our first entry was in June and we began with a review of the book "Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams" by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory. You can read any of the book club reviews at the link below.

Cimetrix Book Club


Cimetrix Team Members

We have run a Meet Our Team series for over two years now, and this is consistently one of our most viewed blog series. Everyone loves getting to know the faces behind the company, and we likewise enjoy introducing our team to the world. You can see all of our Meet Our Team posts at the link below and be sure to stay tuned, because our team is growing, and we will continue to introduce them in this series!

Meet Our Team blog series

Take a chance to peruse our posts and remember, you can always stay up-to-date by subscribing to our blog! 

Subscribe Today

Topics: Industry Standards, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Cimetrix Company Culture, 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 adabtable to different suppliers’ GEM implementations, it only needs to support the specific features that the factory uses. For example, if the factory is only conc,erned 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 condidtion, 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 implement 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 ithe 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 Standards, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

Cimetrix is headed to Tokyo for SEMICON Japan 2019 – our last show of the year!

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Dec 4, 2019 5:00:00 PM

SEMICON Japan 2019 is coming soon and we will be there! You can read about it now in Japanese or below in English.

2019NewHero_bnr-1Cimetrixは本年最後の業界エキジビションである、セミコンジャパン2019に出展致します。

今回Cimetrixとして初めての単独ブースを、東京ビックサイトで開催されるセミコンジャパン2019出展します。期間は1211()~1213()です。
パートナーのブース(ローツェ株式会社様 #8419、および株式会社明電舎様#7714)、またはCimetrixブース(#2467)に是非お立ち寄りください。

日本は世界半導体製造産業界に生産設備の3分の1、材料の半分以上を供給しています。ITを利用した高度な生産効率の改善を実現するためのスマートマニュファクチャリングの推進にあたり、革新的なソリューションとテクノロジーをセミコンジャパンをはじめとする展示会で積極的に紹介しています。

弊社ブースでは今回GEM装置接続・制御ソフトウェアソリューション、EDA/Interface A組み込み開発ソリューション、及び最新製品であるGEM/GEM300スタンダードコンプライアンステスターのEquipmentTestをご紹介します。お客様はEquipmentTestを使用することで、工場側通信システムに接続するための装置通信機能を迅速に検証できます。
本ツールはベーシックバージョンとプロフェッショナルバージョンが準備されており、GEM、PCBECI、及びSEMI SMT-ELSの完全な標準コンプライアンステストを使用可能です。

最新製品としてもうひとつ、Sapienceを展示します。
Sapienceはスマートマニュファクチャリングを実現するための、装置データハンドリングプラットフォームです。イベント駆動型フレームワークを採用しており、さまざまな装置設備と工場をシームレスに接続可能です。
工場のITシステムが設備に直接アクセス可能とすることで工場主体の装置通信、データ収集、プロセス制御を実現し、インダストリー4.0、ビッグデータ、スマートマニュファクチャリングの基盤を確立します。

また弊社は12月11日(水)午後3時10分から会議棟608号室、TechSTAGE SMART Manufacturingフォーラムにて講演を行います。今年のテーマは「組み立てラインにおけるスマート化」です。この講演では、弊社のシステム構築のエキスパートコンサルタントであるアラン・ウェーバーが、「半導体スマートマニュファクチャリング:後工程ファクトリーのスマートマニュファクチャリング実現の要件、スタンダード、ソリューション」というタイトルのプレゼンテーションを行います。

展示会期間中に、是非、弊社ブース#2467にお立ち寄りください。
生産設備のスマート化、スマートファクトリーソフトウェアの専門家がお待ちしています。
下のボタンをクリックして事前にミーティング予約することも可能です。
お客様のご来訪をお待ち申し上げております。Meet with Us


2019NewHero_bnr-1Cimetrix is headed to Tokyo for SEMICON Japan 2019 – our last show of the year!

We are travelling to Tokyo, Japan next week to exhibit in our own booth at SEMICON Japan for the first time! This year’s show is once again located at Tokyo Big Sight from Wednesday, December 11 – Friday, December 13. Whether it’s at our partner booth (Rorze Corporation #8419 and Meiden #7714) or at the Cimetrix booth (#2467), we hope to see you there!

Japan supplies one third of the equipment and more than half of all materials to the global semiconductor manufacturing industry. As the world gets smarter, innovative solutions and technologies continue to be introduced at big shows like this.

Cimetrix will be showing all of our GEM equipment connectivity and control software solutions, as well as our EDA/Interface A products. We will also be introducing Japan to some of our newest products: Cimetrix EquipmentTest. This flexible software tool allows you to quickly validate an equipment’s ability to connect to a factory control system. It can be purchased in both the Basic and Pro versions, and supports full standards compliance tests for GEM, PCBECI and SEMI SMT-ELS out of the box.

Cimetrix Sapience will also be on display at our booth. Sapience is the Smart Factory Platform that seamlessly connects varying factory equipment within a single event-driven framework. The Sapience platform allows factory IT systems direct access to factory equipment, and the resulting equipment communication, data collection and process control establishes the foundation for Industry 4.0, Big Data and Smart Factory initiatives.

We are also privileged to have been invited to speak at the Smart Manufacturing Forum on Wednesday (Dec 11) afternoon at 3:10 pm on the TechSTAGE in Room 608 of the conference Tower. This year’s theme is “Realizing the SMART Assembly Line.” In this context, Alan Weber will deliver a presentation entitled “Semiconductor Smart Manufacturing: Requirements, Standards, and Solutions for the Back End.”

We encourage you to stop by booth #2467 and speak with an expert for your Smart Equipment and Smart Factory software needs! You can also book a meeting with us in advance by clicking the button below. We hope to see you soon.Meet with Us

 

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

EDA Programmatic Model Building

Posted by Derek Lindsey: Product Manager on Nov 27, 2019 11:00:00 AM

The Cimetrix CIMPortalTM Plus software product allows users to achieve compliance with the SEMI Interface A standards. This includes E120, E125, E132, E134 and E164. A key element in enabling the data collection provided by Interface A is the equipment model, which has three main purposes:

  1. It defines the structure and relationships of the components that make up equipment (E120)
  2. It defines the data (parameters, events and exceptions) that are available to be used in data collection (E125)
  3. It defines the supporting structures (state machines, parameter type definitions, logical elements, etc.) for creating objects throughout the life of the running equipment (E125)eda-programmatic-model-building-pic-1

Part of the CIMPortal Plus Software Development Kit (SDK) is an application called Equipment Model Developer (EMDeveloper for short) that uses a simple drag and drop interface to allow CIMPortal Plus users to create a fully EDA-compliant equipment model. This includes making the model compliant with the E164 (Specification for EDA Common Metadata) standard which incorporates best practices from many production EDA implementations by defining common structures and other important conventions for the equipment metadata.

While EMDeveloper makes it simple to create, validate and deploy a fully compliant equipment model, there are times when equipment manufacturers want to provide a more flexible way of creating the equipment model. For example, an equipment manufacturer may offer multiple configurations of a unit of equipment with different arrangements of load ports and/or process module combinations. It is possible for the equipment supplier to save multiple equipment models that are shipped with each equipment, but this opens the door for possible human error in deploying an incorrect model file. It is also possible to create a “master model” that has all possible components defined. When the model is deployed, the equipment developer can use DisableModelNode functionality to disable the components that are not present. However, this approach may also result in errors, and is in the “gray” area of the standards (i.e., it is possible, but not encouraged).

Wouldn’t it be convenient if there was a way to create a model that exactly matched the equipment configuration?

We wouldn’t have a blog post if we didn’t already a positive answer to this question! EMDeveloper uses an API provided by the CIMPortal Plus CxModelLibrary. It does not use any sleight of hand or backdoors to create the equipment model. If a CIMPortal Plus user had the desire to do it, they could recreate EMDeveloper on their own. The API provided by CxModelLibrary allows users to programmatically create an EDA-compliant equipment model that exactly matches the desired equipment configuration.

When using programmatic model building, Cimetrix recommends first becoming familiar with the available API and determining the model building approach that works best for your equipment. The Solutions Engineering team at Cimetrix provides a sample application (including source code) that shows how to programmatically build an equipment model. This sample builds an E164-compliant model. In other words, all the expected parameters, events and exceptions and associated structures required by the standards are included as part of the resulting model.eda-programmatic-model-building-2

The EDA standards – and specifically E164 – define the types of data that are required for various components in the equipment. For example, each substrate location in the model is required to implement a SubstrateLocation state model. Moreover, this state model must appear within the equipment node in the model hierarchy that matches the physical structure of the equipment. This sample illustrates best practices in constructing model objects that can be reused based on the type of component. Programmatic model building may take a little more investment up front, but in the end, it can pay big dividends to those equipment providers that may need to change their equipment model on the fly depending on its configuration.

Once a model has been programmatically created/modified, Cimetrix also provides an API for validating the model, deploying the model to be used by an EDA client and creating an Access Control List (ACL) entry to allow a client to securely connect to the interface and gather data.

There is also a provision in the standard for addressing the concern that if the model is updated dynamically, an EDA client may have data collection plans (DCPs) that become out of sync with the modified model. In this case, the client is notified of model changes, and can also be designed to dynamically update the data collection plans based on the changes.

The Cimetrix CIMControlFramework (CCF) product makes use of this programmatic model building functionality. CCF dynamic model building is described in a blog post that you can find here.

To learn more about the EDA/Interface A standards, CIMPortal Plus or programmatic model building, click below and a Cimetrix expert will contact you. 

Topics: Industry Standards, Semiconductor Industry, EDA/Interface A, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

Industry Standards Activity Report November 2019

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Nov 20, 2019 11:00:00 AM

The SEMI North American standards meetings for the Information and Control Committee were held recently and the following is a summary of some of the highlights and action items. 

In the GEM 300 task force, a revision to GEM officially removed E139 as a recipe management option. A planned revision to GEM should be much more exciting and progressive, but this work cannot begin until E30 is published with the current changes. In the meantime, future near-term plans include defining new SECS-II messages to improve host access to data collection setup and some terminology clarification. Brian Rubow from Cimetrix continues to co-lead this task force with Chris Maloney of Intel.

In the DDA (Diagnostics Data Acquisition) task force, which Brian Rubow from Cimetrix continues to co-lead, the standard that establishes gRPC and Protocol Buffers for EDA freeze 3 was approved. However proposed changes to the other core standards E125, E132 and E134 all failed, as well as the gRPC adoption for E132. The failures were expected. Additionally the North America DDA task force leaders continue to actively collaborate with the co-leaders of the DDA task force in South Korea. It is a great example of competitors working together at SEMI to create common solutions that satisfy everyone’s requirements.

Tami Tracy, a Cimetrix Solutions Engineering Manager, was officially voted in as a GUI task force co-leader for 2020, co-leading with Frank Summers. Congratulations and thanks to Tami for volunteering for this position. This will accelerate the task force's plans to modernize the SEMI E95 standard.

The Computer and Device Security (CDS) task force announced a vastly improved collaboration with its sister organization in Taiwan which has officially agreed to "divide and conquer" rather than attempting to address the entire scope of this domain with a single standard. A few months ago, the two groups seemed to be at odds with each other...The Taiwan task force proposed to include all factory and equipment security issues in one effort, while the North American task force wanted to focus initially on the equipment issues. The Taiwan, Japan and North America Task Force Leadership have now agreed to convert the Specification for Malware Free Equipment Integration (SNARF) 6506 into an overarching standard. The CDS task force is moving forward on SNARF 6566, and received authorization for a ballot on this proposed new standard for Cycle 2-2020.

The Advanced Factory Factory Integration (ABFI) task force, headed by Brian Rubow (Director of Solutions Engineering, Cimetrix) and Dave Huntley (PDF Solutions), held its first task force meeting. One order of business is to update E142 substrate mapping. The task force intends to map equipment features to SEMI standards including GEM and GEM 300. This effort could facilitate adoption of the GEM standard on equipment that previously had little interface standardization. It should also encourage further advance the goals of Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 in related industries, encouraging more factories and equipment to adopt the standards that have been so successfully applied in semiconductor manufacturing for decades.

To find out more, you can speak with an industry standards expert today by clicking the link below.

Ask an Expert

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

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Posted by David Francis: Director of Product Management on Nov 13, 2019 7:45:00 AM

In the early 1990’s I worked with companies like Motorola, Wacker Siltronics, and AT&T to characterize the SEMI Equipment Communication Standards (SECS) interface on the equipment. It was early in the process of connecting process and metrology equipment to a factory control system (Manufacturing Execution System – MES), in the days before the leading chip makers at that time got together to define the Generic Equipment Model (GEM), which was eventually balloted as SEMI E30.

It was a fun and exciting time as process owners began to see the power and benefit of having an automated interface to the equipment. The first project I worked on was collecting critical dimension (CD) data from a microscope following a lithography process step. Previously the operators would manually enter 6 measurement data points to 8-digit precision. This was a very error-prone process, and each time a mistake was made, lots were put on hold until the problem was diagnosed. This affected not only the throughput of the lithography area, but also the overall fab, since the litho tools are invariably the bottleneck. The automated interface eliminated this problem because process engineers knew that any lot holds were due to real process errors rather than operator input errors.

Moving the automated interface to the process equipment was a little more difficult. An automated interface on a metrology tool cannot cause misprocessing, but an automated interface on a process tool was a little riskier. We decided that the first step would be to simply verify that the correct recipe was selected, and not allow processing to proceed until it was reviewed by the process Engineer assigned to that equipment. Within a few minutes of going live with the first automated interface for a process equipment, a mismatch was detected between the operator-selected recipe and the recipe specified in the MES. A quick check by the process engineer verified that the technician had indeed selected the wrong recipe—this simple check alone saved misprocessing the entire carrier of material.Prod20191

From these humble beginnings, full factory automation in front end 300mm fabs was adopted quickly and revolutionized semiconductor manufacturing. The level of automation in other areas of the semiconductor and electronics assembly industries is now increasing dramatically, motivated by the prospect of improved factory throughput and higher yields. Moreover, the experience gained through implementation of automated interfaces using SEMI communication standards will be a great benefit to semiconductor backend and electronics assembly markets. Some of the standards used in 300mm automation have already been modified for this purpose, and new standards are in work to better serve these industries.Prod20192

SMT-ELS-Equipment-link-standard

In September 2019, SEMI published the PCBECI (Printed Circuit Board Equipment Communications Interface) standard, officially designated SEMI A3. This standard is a simplification of the reliable and much-used GEM equipment communication standard.

Early in 2019 the SMT-ELS (Surface Mount Technology Equipment Link Standard) suite, designated SEMI A1, A1.1, and A2, was also published. These standards address the need for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications to support flow manufacturing processes. The adoption process for these new standards has just begun, but like the early adoption of the SECS and GEM standards, it is exciting times and good things are happening. 

Visit us as Productronica (Hall A3 Booth 421) or SEMICON Europa (Hall B1 Booth 525) to hear more about these new standards and the products Cimetrix has developed to support their implementation and validation in equipment and factories. Or you can get in touch with a standards expert any time by clicking the link below. 

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

Advanced Process Control Conference XXXI:  Retrospective and New Standards News

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations on Nov 11, 2019 9:15:00 AM

APC2019-1The 31st annual APC Conference is now in the history books, and the diversity of topics, presenters, and local distractions made it well worth the visit to San Antonio! This year’s agenda featured half-day tutorials on the basics of APC and cyber-security, keynotes from chip makers and leading suppliers on automotive industry requirements, smart equipment, and smart manufacturing, and a series of packed technical sessions covering sensors and equipment control, fault detection and feedforward/feedback control, advanced analytics, and standards.

One of the presentations in the standards session provided detailed information about the new SEMI SMT-ELS (Surface Mount Technology Equipment Link Standards) M2M (machine-to-machine) communications standard. Alan Weber made the presentation titled “SEMI Standards to Support APC for Post-Fab Operations” to an interested audience, which triggered a number of discussions about the automation roadmap for the semiconductor assembly and test segment. This was especially relevant, since some of the leaders of the newly formed SEMI Advanced Backend Factory Integration Task Force (ABFI TF) were also present.

APC2019pic2The SMT-ELS standard has come a long way in a short time, and the ambitious, integrated demonstration created by 4 major SMT suppliers (Fuji, Juki, Panasonic, Yamaha) that was exhibited in June (Japan) and August (China) will again be shown in productronica (Munich, 13-15 November). The basic functions of SMT-ELS (officially designated at SEMI A1, A1.1, and A2) appear in the figure below.

APC2019pic3Cimetrix will likewise demonstrate this new standard at productronica, showing not only an equipment-level implementation of the M2M features but also the host-based configuration process and a plug-in for doing protocol validation tests.

Smart Manufacturing was a common theme this year, with an entire session dedicated to this global initiative. The Factory Integration section of the IRDS (International Roadmap for Devices and Systems) will be reorganized around the tenets of Smart Manufacturing, and a two-volume multi-industry book on this body of technology is scheduled for publication early next year. Another of Alan Weber’s presentations was dedicated to this topic, as he wrote the chapter chronicling the semiconductor industry’s development and use of these technologies.

APC2019pic4If you would like any further information, you can speak with a Cimetrix expert, or you can stop by our booth at productronica this week (Hall A3 booth 451). 

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

We Will Be At Both productronica And SEMICON Europa This Year in Munich. Will We See You There?

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Nov 5, 2019 11:30:00 AM

Productronica-semiconIn less than a week, two of the industry’s largest European shows will begin. The 2019 productronica show is co-located once again with SEMICON Europa in Munich, Germany from November 12-15 at the Messe München expo center. For the first time ever, Cimetrix will be exhibiting at both shows, and we welcome you to join us! 

Productronica is the world's leading trade fair for electronics development and production. Cimetrix will demonstrate our Smart Factory products, including Sapience, to show how we can help with your Smart Factory needs. Sapience is a simple solution for connecting multiple machines in a manufacturing line to a factory host system. It offers an economical and scalable solution that can support machines using many communications protocols, including SEMI SMT-ELS, the latest machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity standard. Please be sure to visit us at our productronica booth #451 in Hall A3.Banner

Over in Hall B1, the SEMICON Europa show will be going strong. SEMICON Europa attracts an audience from every segment of the European microelectronics industries including semiconductors, PV, HB-LED, MEMS, and other adjacent markets.  The combination of SEMICON with productronica is the largest single exhibition for electronics manufacturing in all of Europe. We are excited to once again participate in this event to show how our products can fulfill your Smart Equipment needs.

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Equipment manufacturers who want to embrace Industry 4.0 and all its benefits must first put the right digital building blocks in place. The foundation of this digital transformation is connectivity, and that's where Cimetrix can help. Whether you are an equipment manufacturer or an electronics factory, we can address your connectivity requirements. 

We invite you to drop by either of our booths at productronica or SEMICON Europa, or you can make an appointment ahead of time by clicking the button below. We look forward to seeing you there!

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

Leveraging Cimetrix EquipmentTest to Develop a Reliable SMT-ELS Interface

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Horizontal Tests

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

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

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

Vertical Tests

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

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

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