Industry News, Trends and Technology, and Standards Updates

The Smart Factory in the Cloud

Posted by Mike Motherway: Product Owner and Application Manager on Aug 14, 2019 11:30:00 AM

cloud-computing-1There are some of us in the software development community who recall when cloud computing was not much more than a marketing buzzword, mocked by many developers with first-hand experience at the pace of change in the internet age, but maybe not quite enough experience to know better. Today, cloud-enabled architectures are so commonplace that it’s the alternatives that must be defended in most quarters. Although not necessarily in manufacturing.

In parallel to cloud computing, Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing are happening, and the effects are becoming more apparent and impossible to ignore. Fewer people are mocking I4.0 and Smart Manufacturing as buzzwords. More often, they are being better defined as a set of useful principles and applied to real-world problems with exciting results.The confluence of I4.0 and cloud computing is a rather rare intersecting set. For many manufacturers, it’s a bit much. Those of us working in this area understand the famous quote (mis)attributed to Mahatma Gandhi: “First they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you, then you win.” The fight is underway; the confluence of cloud computing and Smart Manufacturing are the focus of this writing.

During the Industry 3.0 changes, when computers were introduced in a significant wayts themselves all changed. Now that Industry 4.0 is upon us, it is the networking of these machines that is driving the change. The network effect is easy enough to understand, but the resulting change is bound to have ripple effects across the industry that will be hard to predict.

Something similar happened a decade ago with cloud computing. At first, the strategy and benefits were understood as simply renting compute power from a third party. “Cloud is just someone else’s computers” was a common refrain among IT professionals. This was true enough at first, when moving to the cloud was done as a “lift-and-shift” strategy. This meant you should take one app, run it on similar platforms in the cloud, save a few bucks, repeat. However, very quickly some very innovative companies realized that the flexibility, scalability and number of new services provided by public cloud vendors meant that applications would have to be re-architected to exploit these possibilities. The software industry is still discovering all the possibilities of the resulting SaaS models. Salesforce, Netflix, Amazon and a few others saw the possibilities, built their apps and services, and the rest of us are still learning.

digital-padlock-securityAt Cimetrix we have some experience working with manufacturers who are stepping into this area of I4.0 / cloud confluence. Our sense is that the conversations occur along the similar lines of pursuit. The first topics of conversation revolve around fear – security being the chief concern. How can a factory allow its data to leave the four walls? Two recent events have made this argument easier to overcome: TSMC had to shut down a major part of its operations in the summer of 2018 when a computer virus, installed on a new tool, spread to many other hosts. Hundreds of millions of dollars in shipment delays and other costs resulted from a breach of what had previously been thought to be a secure factory environment. On the cloud side: The Capital One breach, where one million social security numbers were stolen, had initial headlines that related it to the Amazon cloud. Since then, the bank has admitted fault and it has become clear that AWS services are secure.

Two critical elements important to the security argument are 1) employing talented security professionals and 2) deploying critical security patches as soon as vulnerabilities are discovered. The public cloud vendors recognized this long ago and hence their data centers employ security measures beyond the affordability of most business. Factories that continue to host their applications on premises, as opposed to the cloud, are increasingly competing with cloud vendors for security talent. These cloud vendors have massive scale and are still growing at ~40% per year. The result of this is that your apps and data are increasingly safer in the cloud than on an “on-prem” server.

Red_smart_factoryOnce these fears are assuaged the next line of reasoning tends towards identifying opportunities. This is where Cimetrix is uniquely positioned. We have the expertise to connect factory equipment, get the data into the cloud, and show our customers how to begin exploiting these technologies. Very often the first step is simply to connect as much factory equipment as possible, get a few simple messages, and expand later. This option has proven very fruitful for distributed supply chains that utilize contract manufacturing and outsourcing. Knowing the rate at which equipment is being utilized, which can be done with as few as two simple messages, can be extremely useful. Negotiating capital budgets for new products tends to improve when utilization rates for existing equipment are well known to all parties. The ROI for projects like this tends to be of the scale of months or weeks, not years.

After proving the ROI this way, with only a few simple messages, the next steps typically involve gathering more data. This is where the real power of cloud computing can be brought to bear. Smart factory computing implies the application of intelligence at the factory level to create a dynamic production environment where reducing costs and improving quality happens extremely quickly. Machine learning and very good AI tools are being developed now by the public cloud companies and to this author seem to be perfectly suited to factory data. “Big data” doesn’t get much bigger than the myriad of sensors already at work in a typical factory, pumping out immense amounts of data. Getting this data into the cloud and closing the loop back to factory equipment will benefit the first adopters in ways similar to the early cloud computing innovators.

Ten years ago innovative companies made a kind of leap, and re-architecting applications for the cloud brought large benefits. We see a similar leap coming for manufacturers who are willing to innovate with the help of these new cloud services. It’s not difficult to imagine how Amazon’s ecommerce engine has benefited from customer data to recommend just the right brand of beer to an on-line buyer of a Manchester United t-shirt. A data scientist I knew once said, “the algorithm says that when it’s raining in England we should recommend this beer. I don’t care why as long as it sells.” This same algorithm is on its way to a factory near you. Although instead of online conversions of browsers into buyers, these algorithms will be tweaked to focus on yields, cycle times, and utilization rates.

There are many other arguments for cloud computing which we ignore here. Arguments in favor of availability, scalability, compliance, ease of deployment, etc. These are all true but better addressed in many other venues. This is likewise the case for Industry 4.0; it is a younger sibling topic as compared to cloud computing, but still better fleshed out in other writings. We at Cimetrix are confident that when we look back 10 years from now, the companies that innovate best at this confluence of technologies will realize an immense potential. 

To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, please click below.

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Topics: Doing Business with Cimetrix, 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 the some of these concepts.  Some of our featured videos are below.

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

Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scope of Performance and Data Quality Requirements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Measurement and Testing

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

Examples of such requirements include:

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

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

In Conclusion

Red_smart_factory-TW

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

Contact Us

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

Cimetrix Book Club: "Microsoft Visual C# Step by Step – Eighth Edition"

Posted by Richard Andrew; Software Engineer on Jul 24, 2019 11:23:00 AM

Cimetrix-book-club-1Today is our next edition of the Cimetrix Book Club. Our employees are always striving to develop their skills, share information, and keep up to date with the industry. Part of this effort includes an employee book club that involves many of our team members each month. We will cover some of their favorites from time-to-time here on our blog!

Today's book is called "Microsoft Visual C# Step by Step – Eighth Edition" by John Sharp. The book review is by Richard Andrew, a Software Engineer based in Salt Lake City, UT, USA.book-club-microsoftThis book was designed to be an overview of the programming language, C# and cover the breadth of most topics while delving in depth on some of the topics.  It was designed to be helpful for even the most novice developers while still being useful to advanced programmers looking to sharpen their craft.  This was perfect for our group because we had a mix of aspiring developers (or developers who hadn’t spent much time programming yet), experienced developers who were new to C#, and experienced developers just looking to get better and learn new things about the language and about best practices.

The Book was split up into four sections. The first two sections focused on general programming practices and structure that are important to any programming language but written in a way that was applicable for C#. These sections mainly focused on breadth and covering many topics. This was especially helpful for our aspiring developers and the developers who were just learning or becoming familiar with C#. For our more experienced developers, these sections were more of review or relearning what they already knew.

Section three dove deeper into more advanced programming topics and provided a good overview for some of our novice developers, but it was really geared for a more experienced developer. This section talked about generics, collections, event handling and querying expressions. Lots of new tools to add to our kits.

Section four focused primarily on building Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) with C#, and the author specifically chose to highlight using UWP applications (Universal Windows Platform). This section on the surface seemed to be less relevant to what we were working on. But after reading and looking looking at the code behind it, it became very relatable to WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation), which is an application we use in our products. This section was also extremely helpful for anybody seeking to become Microsoft Certified. As we currently have several engineers in our group striving to become Microsoft Certified, this section was helpful preparation. 

All in all this book was excellent for our team. It gave an introduction and an overview to our novice developers while still providing a lot of education to our more experienced developers. A great thing about this book were the examples in each section that, when we really dug in, gave us rich knowledge and context to everything the author was trying to convey. You really get out what you put into the study of this book. 

Topics: Cimetrix Company Culture, Programming Tools, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Book Club

A Successful SEMICON West 2019 is in the Books!

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

View Presentations

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

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 Standards, SECS/GEM, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

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

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

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

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

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

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

Schedule a Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

Jisso-2

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

Jisso-3

Jisso-4

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

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

Contact Us

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

Cimetrix Book Club: "Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams" by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory

Posted by Morgan Kap; QE Engineer on Jun 5, 2019 10:30:00 AM

Cimetrix-book-club-1Today we are introducing the Cimetrix Book Club on our blog. Our employees are always striving to develop their skills, share information, and keep up to date with the industry. Part of this effort includes an employee book club that involves many of our team members each month. We will cover some of their favorites from time-to-time here on our blog!

Today's book is called "Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams" by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory, two of the industry’s most experienced agile testing practitioners and consultants. The book review is by Morgan Kap, a QE Engineer based in Salt Lake City, UT, USA.Agile-testing-bookclub-1This book on agile testing is a great high-level explanation of how testing fits into an agile development team. The focus of this book is on how to successfully transition a team to an agile methodology, or to create a new QE/testing team in an agile methodology. While our team was already practicing agile before we read the book, it had quite a bit of valuable knowledge that led our team to make changes in how we tackle daily testing tasks.

One of the main changes we made immediately was to slightly restructure our team, and we have become a more effective team as a result. This book on Agile Testing is full of real-world stories of testing success and failures. These stories show the importance of techniques and tools, outlined for easy understanding in the book, for developing an efficient and complete testing process.

Some of the major focus points include being test driven during development and the many benefits this can create for all types of projects. Another focus details the many ways a software product should be tested; from security to usability. There is even a chapter focusing on how an office’s culture can have an impact on testing. This topic led to our team to try a few new things to make our culture more fun and interesting. This now includes having rubber ducks on every desk - that's a long-story, but we love it.

Overall, "Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams" by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory, is a great starting point for those quality engineering teams that searching for ideas and way to improve and understand many of the important aspects of testing software. 

Topics: Cimetrix Company Culture, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Book Club