SEMI PV2 Standard Overview

In an effort to increase efficiencies and reduce integration costs, the fast-growing Photovoltaic (PV) Manufacturing community has initiated the development and implementation of industry-wide standards. At the equipment level, the connectivity standard, based on GEM/SECS (SEMI E30), PV2 - Equipment Communication Interface Standard for PV Production Systems, was approved in July 2009.

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The PV Industry and Standards

The Photovoltaic (PV) industry is a dynamic and fast growing industry that is focused on reducing the cost per kilowatt of power. The PV industry is aggressively developing the implementation of equipment-level standards in an effort to increase productivity and decrease operational costs.

The SEMI® organization has promoted the use of standards for this market. By providing recommendations, guidance and expertise in standards development and deployment, SEMI can help the PV manufacturing community leverage the work that has already been done in similar industries to improve its efficiency and production.

PV Equipment Communication Standards Development

Discussions began in 2006 regarding the need for standardized IT (Information Technology) interfaces that enable “sophisticated quality assurance, traceability and advanced process control strategies” [Photovoltaics International, PVI02-07_04]. In September 2007, the Photovoltaic Equipment Interface Specification (PV-EIS) PV-EIS Task Force was formed with the sole purpose of defining the interface between the equipment and the Manufacturing Execution System (MES).

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 in different environments. The evaluation of both teams resulted in the decision to build upon the SEMI SECS/GEM standard (SEMI E30) already being implemented in the semiconductor industry.

PVECI (PV2): Guide for PV Equipment Communication Interfaces

The PV-EIS Task Force created the Guide for PV Equipment Communication Interfaces (PVECI), or PV2 07-09 standard. Restrictions and clarifications are included that simplify the GEM/SECS application for the PV industry compared to the version used in semiconductor manufacturing.

Supporters of the PV2 standard believe that its acceptance will be an improvement, reducing integration costs dramatically. Many semiconductor equipment manufacturers that include photovoltaic in their product mix have already begun utilizing the existing SECS/GEM standard for equipment connectivity for this reason. According to SEMI, the PV manufacturing community must strengthen its industry-wide standard initiative in order to become truly global.

PV2 Standards Update

Document #4557, The Guide to PV Equipment Communication Interfaces, was submitted for balloting in October 2008. The PV-EIS Task Force met in March 2009 and resolved all outstanding issues and approved the ballot. On May 13, 2009, the SEMI PV2 standard - Guide for PV Equipment Communication Interfaces (PVECI) was approved for publication by the global Audits and Reviews Subcommittee. According to the PV Group's Photovoltaic Standards Committee, the PV-EIS task force's next plan of action will be to “initiate a new activity to extend the capabilities of the PVECI guide in terms of material tracking [PVI02-07_04].”

PVECI and Cimetrix

Cimetrix has been involved in the PV-EIS Task Force since its inception. A world-wide factory automation software supplier to the semiconductor industry, Cimetrix is an expert in the SEMI connectivity standards and has already been working with members of the PV industry to utilize its products and expertise to implement the SECS/GEM standards. Cimetrix offers a complete set of proven and efficient equipment communication software solutions for PV manufacturing.

We have representation on the PV-EIS Task Force and hold co-chair positions on both the SEMI Diagnostic Data Acquisition (DDA) and the North America GEM300 Task Forces.

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