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Precision Data Framing during Process Execution – Tricks of the Trade: Episode 3 in the “Models in Smart Manufacturing” Series

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations on Jun 27, 2017 11:30:00 AM

…or how to move away from “just in case” data collection...

It’s a common process engineering request of the manufacturing IT folks: “Please collect as much data as you can during this process, and we’ll figure out what’s important later.” And this approach has worked fairly well up to this point. However, with 10nm (and below) production on the horizon, coupled with the desire to sample key parameters at ever-increasing rates, the amount of on-line data storage required to support this approach could skyrocket… to say nothing of the difficulty in sifting through all that data to extract the real information you wanted in the first place.

Models3.1.jpgModels3.2.jpg

Fortunately, you don’t have to look very far into the SEMI EDA (Equipment Data Acquisition) standards (also known as “Interface A”) to find an excellent solution alternative. The portion of the standard equipment metadata model (specified by SEMI E164 – EDA Common Metadata) that deals with process execution (SEMI E157 – Process Execution Tracking) combined with the conditional triggering features of Trace Requests (SEMI E134 – Data Collection Management) enables a process engineer to precisely collect the right data at the right time at the right frequency without over-burdening the equipment or factory systems by collecting and storing less important data at the highest rates. 

Let’s look at an example. The key state machine called for in the E157 standard (see figure below*) has 2 major states (NOT EXECUTING and EXECUTING) with intuitive transition events defined between them (Execution Started, Execution Completed, and Execution Failed). If you only care about tracking the overall execution time of the process recipes on a given tool, then a single DCP (Data Collection Plan) with a pair of Event Requests on the Started and Completed events is all you need. The difference in the timestamps of the corresponding Event Reports provides the necessary information. 

Models3.3.png

However, if you want to monitor a baseline set of equipment performance parameters at a low frequency (say, 1 Hz) throughout the recipe, and collect the key parameters for analyzing process behavior at a higher frequency (50 Hz) during the most critical process steps (5 through 8), you would use a DCP with multiple Trace Requests triggered by the Step Started and Step Completed transition events between the two sub-states (GENERAL EXECUTION and STEP ACTIVE) of the EXECUTING state. Furthermore, you would use the conditional triggering feature of the Freeze II version of the EDA standards (SEMI E134-0710 or later) to produce Trace Reports only during the critical process steps. The figure below is one visualization* of such a DCP.

Models3.4.png

You may have noticed from this example that multiple triggering conditions are ANDed together to determine whether or not to collect the data and generate a Trace Report. But how do you handle the situation in which OR functionality is needed to produce the desired result, for example, in the case that multiple sets of recipe steps are considered critical (say, steps 5-8 and steps 11-13)?

This is where you can use one of the “tricks of the trade.” Simply define multiple Trace Requests with different sets of ANDed conditions to cover the range of ORed situations. For the case above, you would need two Trace Requests: one for each critical set of contiguous recipe steps (see visualization below).

Models3.5.png

Note finally that you can also apply comparison operators to analog values to trigger Trace Requests, which may be especially useful to sample specific parameters when some value crosses an important threshold. 

Models3.6.png

Taken together, these techniques are sometimes called “data framing,” which is an important tool in the controlling the scope of factory data explosion that will soon be upon us. 

This article is the third in our Models in Smart Manufacturing series – be sure to watch for subsequent postings that will expand on this theme.

We look forward to your feedback and to sharing the Smart Manufacturing journey with you.

*The visualizations of equipment metadata model fragments and DCP contents are those produced by the Cimetrix ECCE Plus product (EDA Client Connection Emulator).

 

Topics: Interface A, EDA

Improving Tests through Coded UI Test (CUIT)

Posted by Devon Truman; Quality Engineer on Jun 21, 2017 11:30:00 AM

Have you ever had that itch you just can’t seem to ever get rid of despite all your scratching? Well, UI Testing is that same itch for many developers. Fortunately, Coded UI Test exists, allowing us to scratch that itch with ease and relieve the heartache that is UI Testing.

A very important part of our development process is testing our software to ensure that each product is the best it can possibly be for our customers. There can often be a lot to test in a short period. Having a fast, efficient, repeatable, and reliable way to make sure everything is tested is what we strive for. Coded UI Test (CUIT) allows us these attributes.

Coded_UI_1.png

CUIT creates automated tests used for functionality testing of a GUI application. There are several ways to go about this, the first being the ‘Record and Playback’ feature that CUIT provides. This option allows us to set up tests by starting the recording feature and performing the tasks the developer would like to test. The recording feature will record everything the developer does and automatically generate a test for us. After it is generated we can play it back to run the test as many times as we want.

The recording feature alone is not the only option CUIT provides of course. However, the recording feature certainly does help when writing our own scripts when we want to go beyond the basic testing features available through the recording. Since the recording feature generates its own C# code, we can use those generated scripts to see how the CUIT works and expand on those scripts to fit our needs.

Coded_UI_2.png

We can see in this generated code snippet how CUIT goes about looking for a button in a WinForms application. This button in the above sample is named ‘Refresh’ and once CUIT finds this button through this code snippet, we can do many different things with the button. This includes clicking the button, verifying the test in the button, seeing whether the button is disabled or not, and many other things we might want to check in our tests. Now with this code snippet in mind we can modify it to look for other buttons or other controls such as checkboxes, radio buttons, and other controls we might want to include in a test.

We want to be able to expand upon our tests through the help of our Software Engineers and not just our Quality Engineers. Thankfully, CUIT uses C# instead of a proprietary scripting language, making it easy for our Software Engineers to go from working on our applications to writing tests through CUIT for our applications. This enables us to collaborate effectively and make sure our products are being tested as best they can.

CUIT is a great way to develop sophisticated tests for our applications to assure our customers will be satisfied with our products. We will continue to create more tests within CUIT to help us make sure no new bugs are introduced. The more tests we can automate through CUIT, the faster and more efficient our testing process will be and the easier it will be for us to identify potential problems if they arise, helping us create a product we can continue to be proud of.

Topics: Programming Tools

Cimetrix International, Inc., Taiwan Branch美商矽美科國際股份有限公司台灣分公司

Posted by Michael Lee; Country Manager Taiwan on Jun 14, 2017 11:30:00 AM

Michael Lee of Cimetrix announces the Taiwan Office Opening. Read now in Chinese or English.

當工廠的產品需要加入更多的功能,交期需要更迅速,工資需要提高,智慧製造提供了一個最好的解決方案。美商矽美科所提供的工廠自動化軟體,提升了聯繫工廠主機與設備控制在半導體、電子組裝、太陽能模組、發光二極體等相關的電子產業。我們在工業界領先的產品,給予客戶用較低的成本、客制化生產、迅速上市,並集中在成功實行工具控制與SEMI標準。

我很榮幸在今年二月進入美商矽美科。我們和知名的半導體廠商、印刷電路板商、設備商、機器人製造商等客戶合作,而這些公司給予我們最佳的評價。矽美科帶給他們一個極為經濟、有效率和聯繫良好的方案。我們提供了CIMConnect、 HostConnect、 EDA等產品來滿足廠商不同的需求。

Cimetrix Diagram

矽美科台灣辦公室將在5月31日開幕。我們感謝我們的客戶跟合作夥伴。我們將帶給你更方便、更熱情的服務,並展望在台灣及中國服務更多半導體、電路板和面板廠商。 

台灣銷售辦事處:

Cimetrix International, Inc., Taiwan Branch
美商矽美科國際股份有限公司台灣分公司4F., No.301,
Sec. 2, Tiding Blvd,
Taipei 114, Taiwan, R.O.C.
中華民國台灣台北市堤頂大道二段301號4樓 114

電話: +886-926395649
聯絡人:Michael Lee


When it comes to adding product functionality, shortening delivery time, or increasing wages, smart manufacturing provides the best solution. Cimetrix provides factory automation software which increases host connectivity and equipment control for semiconductor, electronics assembly, photovoltaic, LED, and related electronics industries. Our industry-leading products focus on successful implementation of tool control and SEMI connectivity standards to enable faster time-to-market, increased customization, and decreased total cost of ownership.

I was honored to join the Cimetrix team in February earlier this year. We work with major semiconductor companies, PCB manufacturers, equipment vendors, robotics specialists and more. I was happy to know that everyone I've worked with has high praise for this company.  Cimetrix can bring their customers and clients connected products that are efficient and cost-effective. Cimetrix offers a large portfolio of products such as CIMConnect, HostConnect, and EDA to meet the various needs of their customers.

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The Cimetrix International, Inc., Taiwan Branch officially opened on May 31, 2017. Thanks to all our partners and customers. We hope to continue to bring you convenient and passionate service. I am looking forward to working with all our current and future customers in Taiwan and China! 

Contact Us:
Cimetrix International, Inc., Taiwan Branch
4F., No. 301,
Sec. 2, Tiding Blvd,
Taipei 114, Taiwan, R.O.C.

Phone: +886-926395649
Contact: Michael Lee

Topics: Working at Cimetrix, Announcements, Global Services, Smart Manufacturing

Meet the Team Series: Jodi Juretich, CFO

Posted by Cimetrix on Jun 8, 2017 11:45:00 AM

JCimetrix-Jodi_Juretich_copy.jpgoin us as we meet the Leadership Team of Cimetrix in the second post in our “Meet the Team” series.

Jodi Juretich joined Cimetrix in May 2007 and was promoted to Chief Financial Officer in November 2008. She has over 15 years of experience in executive accounting management for private high-growth companies and 10 years of public accounting experience. Prior to joining Cimetrix, Jodi was Vice President of Finance for two venture funded private companies, General Manager for a subsidiary of Monster.com, and an Accounting Manager with a division of The Times Mirror Company (Los Angeles Times). She has played key roles in raising venture capital in start-up organizations and led Cimetrix in implementing and managing the new Sarbanes-Oxley compliance requirements. Jodi earned a bachelor's in Business Management from Westminster College. Juretich grew up in Titusville, Fl., where her father worked for NASA, but has been living in Utah for almost 20 years. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Utah Foster Care Foundation.

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What brought you to Cimetrix originally?

I moved to Salt Lake City in 1996 and I celebrated my 10-year anniversary with Cimetrix this year. It’s an interesting story of how I got connected with Cimetrix and proof that networking works! A local CFO consulting firm had my resume which they passed on to a local CPA firm, which happened to be Cimetrix’s CPA firm at the time. They passed my resume on to Cimetrix and the rest is history. I was attracted to Cimetrix because it was a small company and had strong leadership with heart and passion.

What's your favorite thing about working at Cimetrix?

Most definitely the people, without a doubt. Cimetrix’s core values include Integrity, defined as “Upholding the Highest Ethical Standards in Everything We do”. I could not work for a company where bad behavior or unethical practices were tolerated.

What do you think makes a good CFO?

A good CFO must be suspicious of everything and can’t be bamboozled by anyone, no matter the circumstances. I am responsible for making sure the books are clean, people are doing what they say they are doing and we are making decisions based on increasing shareholder value and not personal or “alternative” agendas.  I am proud to say that we have our financials audited by independent third-party auditors each year and this year, we did not have any audit adjustments. My peers in the finance world know that’s no simple accomplishment. I have an incredible accounting team and they are committed to maintaining solid internal controls to prove there is no monkey-business going on.

CFOs at smaller and mid-size companies often wear a lot of different hats, tell us about your experience with that.

I have worked for small companies for most my career and have had similar experiences at all: You must be agile as a CFO of a small company because there are not layers of people to delegate responsibilities to. You must recognize your own capacity in terms of work load and technical expertise and know when to ask for help. Establishing good relationships with third-party professionals as well as your own network is vital. No one knows everything and you must be prepared to call on those relationships when necessary.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“If you say you can, you will, if you say you can’t, you won’t.” I continue to be amazed at what we, as human beings, are capable of. During the mortgage crisis when businesses were closing right and left, including many of our clients, Cimetrix survived. A business must have grit to survive hard times and Cimetrix has lots of grit.

How do you deal with challenges that come up in your work life?

I like to reflect on the Basic Principles, which I learned from a wonderful employer a long time ago.  

    • Focus on the situation, issue, or behavior, not on the person.
    • Maintain the self-confidence and self-esteem of others.
    • Maintain constructive relationships.
    • Take the initiative to make things better.
    • Lead by example.
    • Think beyond the moment.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Since 2012, I’ve been competing in triathlons, completing 3 half Ironman’s and 2 full Ironman’s in the last 4 years. This year, I am committed to relaxing a little more, taking a few more vacations with my husband and son and work in my garden.

What's the best thing that's happened to you in your time working at Cimetrix?

The best thing that’s happened to me at Cimetrix is the professional growth, feeling that I make a difference and friendships made. Cimetrix is a great place to work.  

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Topics: Doing Business with Cimetrix, Working at Cimetrix, Cimetrix Culture

Implementing GEM on your Manufacturing Equipment

Fuji SMT machine 3.jpgAs an OEM, implementing GEM on your equipment can seem like a daunting task. However, as GEM gains popularity in your industry, your customers may start requiring your equipment to be “GEM Compliant”.

So, what does it take to implement GEM on your equipment and become “GEM Compliant”? To answer this question, let’s first understand GEM.

Officially titled the “Generic Model for Communication and Control of Manufacturing Equipment,” GEM is a SEMI standard (E30), which defines standard methods to communicate with host software for monitoring and/or controlling purposes. Essentially, GEM provides a common language for a host system to communicate with the various equipment in a factory. 

Next, let’s understand why customers are demanding your equipment to be GEM Compliant.

As industry trends such as Industry 4.0, Smart Factory, and Big Data drive data exchange and process automation in manufacturing, factories desire to connect each machine to their network for data collection and control. Essentially, factory equipment is added to the “Internet of Things” – also called IIOT - Industrial Internet of Things.  

GEM is a powerful enabler for factories to implement these industry trends. A factory no longer needs to develop disparate/custom interfaces to communicate with different equipment types. A factory can develop common applications to communicate to all equipment via a single common GEM protocol. Originally, GEM was widely adopted in the Semiconductor Front End industry followed later by the Photovoltaic and LED industries. Recently the PCB industry selected GEM as their standard. And GEM is quickly gaining adoption in other electronics industries such as Semiconductor Back End, Flat Panel Display, and Surface Mount Technology.

By connecting GEM equipment, factories can immediately experience operational benefits. Examples of such benefits are:…

  • Ensure recipe (aka process program) correctness and track when recipes are changed/revised
  • Monitor equipment performance to calculate Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) metrics
  • Gather real-time data variables to implement Statistical Process Control (SPC) for key processes
  • Broadcast equipment alarms to immediately notify personnel when equipment requires assistance
  • Collect equipment parameters to drive preventative maintenance plans

Now that we understand GEM, we can explain the term “GEM Compliance”.

GEM Compliance is defined in the SEMI E30 GEM standard. To be “GEM Compliant” means your equipment implements a specific set of capabilities called “Fundamental GEM Requirements”. Your equipment may also implement optional features called “Additional Capabilities”. The SEMI E30 standard provides a list of all GEM features, as listed below.

gem compliance.png
Per Table 11 Section 8.4.3. of the document "SEMI E30-0307E2"

So, how do you become “GEM Compliant”?

As mentioned above, to be GEM compliant, the equipment must implement the eight capabilities listed under Fundamental GEM Requirements. If one of the fundamental capabilities is not implemented, then you cannot say the equipment is GEM compliant.  However, each capability listed under Additional Capabilities is optional. Implementing GEM also means implementing the other SEMI standards that GEM is based on including: E4 (SECS-I), E5 (SECS-II)E37(HSMS), E37.1 (HSMS-SS). In addition, depending on your industry, there may be additional standard to adhere to.

All-in-all, there are 100’s of standards pages filled with requirements and implementation information. Reading and implementing all the requirements defined in those standards may require extensive time. However, toolkits such as our CIMConnectTM product greatly reduce the number of people and time needed to implement a fully GEM compliant interface.

A simple GEM interface that only implements the Fundamental capabilities can be completed relatively quickly. However, a toolkit like CIMConnect enables a small team of one or two people to implement a fundamental interface in even less time. CIMConnect reduces time by implementing the GEM features that are common to all equipment, and providing API to implement the capabilities unique to your equipment. Toolkits also provide several utilities to help become GEM compliant. For example, one of the fundamental GEM requirements is to provide a GEM interface manual with each equipment. CIMConnect provides a template and a documentation builder to help create your manual. These tools reduce the time to create a GEM interface manual from weeks to hours. With products like CIMConnect, a more complex GEM interface can be implemented in just a couple weeks.

Whether you use CIMConnect or an in-house solution, the process for developing a GEM interface is roughly the same:

  • Define and Document GEM interface
  • Implement GEM interface
  • Test GEM interface
  • Customer accepts GEM interface

Defining and documenting the GEM interface of the equipment should be first because it helps to reduce feature creep, keep the project on course, and ensure the project is completed on time. Implementing the GEM interface is often the largest part of the process. Since no two equipment are alike, programming is required to customize the GEM interface for your equipment. It is common to test the GEM interface as each feature is implemented. Testing ensures your GEM implementation is compliant with the GEM standard and is defect free. Some use a completely manual testing process that can take weeks, but we recommend creating automated tests that can be built with our Cimetrix HostConnectTM product. Automated testing allows defects to be detected and fixed quickly; preventing unexpected development costs down the line. Once you believe your interface is free of defects, it’s time to get acceptance from your customer.

To ensure continued success, it is important for your GEM product supplier to provide training and on-going product support. Proper training and support from your GEM supplier allows you to provide continuous support to your customers.

Congratulations – you are on your way to being able to make your equipment “GEM Compliant”.  You can successfully meet your customers’ requirements while keeping your team’s resources on their core competency. 

Topics: SECS/GEM, GEM Interface

Meet the Team Series: Robert Reback, CEO

Posted by Cimetrix on May 24, 2017 4:27:00 PM

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Join us as we meet the Leadership Team of Cimetrix in this first post of our “Meet the Team” series

Bob Reback — has served as President and CEO of the company since June 2001. Bob joined Cimetrix as Vice President of Sales in January 1996, was promoted to Executive Vice President of Sales in January 1997, and became President on June 25, 2001.  Bob grew up in Wisconsin and is an enthusiastic Green Bay Packers fan. We talked to Bob about how he got started at Cimetrix, the makings of a good CEO, and the challenges of running a global business.

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What brought you to Cimetrix originally?

My background was in robotics and factory automation. I worked at Texas Instruments in the ‘80s when TI’s business was booming and had the opportunity to deploy leading robotics and factory automation technologies of that era. I became involved in the semiconductor industry in the mid-80s with an important project which was one of the first applications of clean-room robots and the SEMI Equipment Communications Standard (SECS) to fully automate a lithography bay. This led to additional factory automation projects with the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturers, including the first uses of the new Generic Equipment Model (GEM) standard. In the early ‘90s, I moved to California to work for FANUC Robotics, the world’s largest robot maker. While at FANUC Robotics, Cimetrix called and recruited me. Cimetrix had a unique concept for a PC-based open architecture robot controller, which had the potential to disrupt the growing robotics industry.

What’s your favorite thing about working at Cimetrix?

There are several things that get me really energized. The first is meeting with a client who is an enthusiastic reference for Cimetrix. Fortunately, these meetings now occur on a frequent basis, and have become our expectation. These meetings are very enjoyable and personally satisfying, as I get to hear wonderful stories about how Cimetrix team members worked hard and took extra care to help our clients. The second thing is seeing the individual professional development of the great people who work at Cimetrix. We invest a lot in building the Cimetrix culture, emphasizing continuous improvement, and establishing shared values. It is a joy to see Cimetrix employees grow in not only the skill sets of their craft, but also in their professional careers.

What do you think makes a good CEO?

Well, I believe there are a number of things necessary to be a good CEO. First, I believe the focus must be on creating long-term value and building a company that lasts. This means looking at “What is best for Cimetrix?” over the long term. You must consider the interests of shareholders, clients and employees, while also ensuring every decision reflects the Company values. I believe the values and culture of the company start at the top. The CEO must personally possess the values he or she wants in the company, and demonstrate those values by example. They can’t just appear on a poster on the breakroom wall - you’ve got to really live and breathe them. They should be communicated and celebrated regularly, and there must be consequences for those whose actions do not reflect the company’s values.

Second, being a good CEO means being a good teacher who is able to listen, understand, empathize, and mentor. To do this, the CEO must be secure in his position - slow to blame others for problems, and quick to give credit to others when good things happen.

In addition, I believe the CEO must have passion and perseverance in the business. You never know what challenges may arise, and the CEO must be ready and able to lead the team in overcoming whatever obstacles the world may throw at us. It’s important for the CEO to have passion in order to articulate and reach alignment on the vision for the company, because you need people to be excited and energized about their role in fulfilling that vision.

Do you have a favorite quote?

People at Cimetrix know I read a lot of biographies, and can pull out quotes for almost any occasion. If I had to choose one favorite, I would go with the classic Vince Lombardi, “The will to win is not nearly so important as the will to prepare to win.”

How do you deal with challenges that come up in your work life?

First I refresh my memory and review what were the real goals and objectives we were trying to achieve. Then I try to understand the possible options, how much time we have to make a decision, and whether or not we have time to gather more data. We also always check to ensure that any decision reflects our company values, and discard options that might not reflect them.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love to read on a wide variety of topics, especially history and biographies. I believe in doing some physical exercise on a daily basis, which might be running, biking, golfing, or skiing. I’ve also developed an interest in mindfulness and meditation which has led to some formal classes, retreats, and a regular yoga practice.

What’s the best thing that’s happened to you in your time working at Cimetrix?

Without a doubt, it would have to be all the wonderful people I’ve come to know, which includes clients, shareholders and employees. It also gives me genuine pleasure to see the company grow, and to work with satisfied clients and the truly great team of people we have here at Cimetrix. We’ve invested a lot in continually improving our software products, and know our clients can use our products to achieve success in their projects. We’re also seeing the financial rewards that come with that growth, using our profits to invest in some new products and markets to support that growth over the long term. It’s exciting for me to consider what’s possible in the next phase of our evolution as a company. We have a clear vision for how we can grow our markets, expand our product offerings, add more value for our clients, and do all that in a way that provides a good return to our shareholders. 

Finally, we know you travel quite a bit with your job. What have you learned from your travels?

For the past 20 years, Cimetrix has developed a client base across the US, Europe and Japan. This has provided many opportunities to travel to semiconductor regions in the US, such as the Bay Area, Portland, Phoenix, Austin, Boston and many other cities. We have clients in almost every European country, each with its own culture and work habits. Japan was the first Asian country in which we developed a meaningful client base. Japan requires a lot of patience as it has a unique culture, but once you establish a solid reputation and client base, it is a great place to do business.

Recently we’ve been developing business opportunities in Taiwan, Korea, China and southeast Asia. It has been fascinating to recruit staff and open offices in these areas, as each country has its unique ways of doing business. Cimetrix has become a truly international company with a diverse group of employees, as we now have employees from many different countries.

If I had to summarize what I’ve learned, it is that even though we have employees and clients from a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, we also share many similarities. People want to be treated with respect, they want to be appreciated for their contributions, they want to be part of a team in which they take pride, and everyone wants to provide a good living for their family. I am convinced we can build a great company with employees from many different backgrounds while also having a shared Cimetrix culture and set of values.

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Thanks Bob for a great interview!

Topics: Doing Business with Cimetrix, Working at Cimetrix, Cimetrix Culture

European Advanced Process Control and Manufacturing Conference XVII: Retrospective and Invitation

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations on May 17, 2017 11:30:00 AM

APC.jpgCimetrix participated in the recent European Advanced Process Control and Manufacturing (apc|m) Conference, along with over 150 control professionals across the European and global semiconductor manufacturing industry. The conference was held in Dublin, a lively city on the east coast of Ireland which features a charming juxtaposition of old and new and is home to 1.2 million of the friendliest and most talkative people on the planet! 

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Of course, one of Ireland’s greatest “natural resources” may also contribute to their fine spirits…

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This conference, now in its 17th year and organized by Silicon Saxony, is one of only a few global events dedicated to the domain of semiconductor process control and directly supporting technologies. This year’s attendance was up from that of the three previous years, a clear indication that this area continues to hold keen interest for the European high-tech manufacturing community. Moreover, the participants represented all links in the semiconductor manufacturing value chain, from universities and research institutes to component, subsystem, and equipment suppliers to software product and services providers to semiconductor IDMs and foundries across a wide spectrum of device types to industry trade organizations – something for everyone.

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The local sponsor for the conference was Intel, which is the largest private-sector investor in the Irish economy and one of its biggest employers. In addition to excellent logistics support, Intel hosted a lovely evening of fine food and local entertainment at the world-renowned Trinity College.

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As in many prior years, Cimetrix was privileged to present at this conference. Alan Weber delivered a talk entitled “Smarter Manufacturing with SEMI Standards: Practical Approaches for Plug-and-Play Application Integration.” This topic was well aligned with one of the key themes of this year’s event, but stressed the point that our industry already has at its disposal many of the tools, techniques, and enabling standards required for Smart Manufacturing. Specifically, the presentation illustrated how the new SEMI E172 SECS Equipment Data Dictionary (SEDD) standard could be used to document an equipment’s GEM interface in way that provided much of the same hierarchical structure and context information inherent in the latest generation of EDA metadata models (SEMI E120, E125, and E164). If you want to know more, feel free to download a copy of the entire presentation from our web site.

In addition to Smart Manufacturing, recurring themes of the presentations included:

  • The IoT (Internet of Things) and interesting applications for all these “things” (e.g., most new drugs depend on a “smart delivery device” to be used safely and effectively)
  • Decision-driven data collection strategies (vs. “just in case” approaches)
  • Automated analysis, automated decision making, artificial intelligence, and other forms of machine learning
  • The evolution from reactive systems to predictive systems, or in Gartner’s terms, using data to move from hindsight to insight to foresight 
  • The increasing use eOCAP techniques (electronic aids and workflow engine support for Out-of-Control Action Plan execution) 
  • And, last but certainly not least, connectivity standards and technologies as key enablers of much of the above

The agenda also featured keynotes and invited talks from a variety of sources, namely:

  • Bosch – Success Factors for Semiconductor Manufacturing in High-Cost Locations
  • Intel – IoT’s Connected Devices and Big Data Analytics: the Opportunities and Challenges in Semiconductor Manufacturing
  • ST Microelectronics – FDC Control: the Loop Between Standardization and Innovation
  • IBM Research – Automating Analytics for Cognitive IoT 
  • Rudolph Technologies – Smart Manufacturing
  • Applied Materials – Advancements in FDC: Reducing False Alarms and Optimizing Model and Limits Management

The insights gained from these and the other 30+ presentations are too numerous to list here, but in aggregate, they provided an excellent reminder of how relevant semiconductor technology has become for our comfort, sustenance, safety, and overall quality of life. 

This conference and its sister conference in the US are excellent venues to understand what manufacturers do with all the data they collect, so if this topic piques your interest, be sure to put these events on your calendar in the future. In the meantime, if you have questions about any of the above, or want to know how equipment connectivity and control fit into the overall Smart Manufacturing landscape, please contact us!

Topics: Interface A, EDA, European APCM Conference

Exposing Hidden Capacity through Material Tracking: Episode 2 in the “Models in Smart Manufacturing” Series

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations on May 9, 2017 11:38:00 AM

“Do you know where your wafers are? Are you SURE?”

This adaptation of the famous public service announcement is as relevant for semiconductor process and industrial engineers as it was (and still is) for responsible parents. Given the ever-present productivity and profitability pressures in modern wafer fabs, it is essential to know the location and status of all product material at all times, because this information drives the scheduling and material delivery systems that provide competitive advantage for the world’s leading manufacturers. Until recently, material visibility at the lot/FOUP level was sufficient for this purpose, but this is no longer the case. 

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As production managers look for ways to squeeze more capacity out of their existing capital equipment, they realize that a deeper understanding of the wafer processing sequence within a particular tool type may provide opportunities to shorten the its overall lot processing time and increase the amount of material that can be processed simultaneously.  The first improvement results from identifying and eliminating unnecessary “wait” states* that individual wafers (or groups of wafers) may experience because of sub-optimal internal material handling, shared resource constraints, mis-calibrated subcomponents, poor recipe design, or a combination of these and other factors. The second improvement results from starting the next lot scheduled for a given tool as soon as all the wafers in the current lot have cleared the first stage of the process. This technique is sometimes called “cascading” or “continuous processing,” and applies to an increasing number of multi-chamber equipment types.

When applied to all the critical “bottleneck” tools in a factory, you can imagine what the resulting benefits would be for cycle time and capacity. Estimates of 3-5% improvement in these KPIs are not unrealistic.

Easy to say, right? But not so easy to implement? Perhaps not as daunting as you think…

The information required to track the precise location, movement, and status of individual wafers in semiconductor manufacturing equipment is most likely available for most equipment types in the form of “events” that chronicle the behavior of substrates, substrate locations, process chambers, aligners, wafer handling robots, and the other equipment components that affect wafer processing. What’s missing is a standard model that unifies this information across multiple equipment types, which would greatly simplify the data collection and analysis software required to implement a robust, generic material tracking system.

Here, too, the industry standards are actually ahead of today’s “state of the practice.” For example, the SEMI E90 “Substrate Management” and E157 “Specification for Module Process Tracking” standards define all the state machines, transition events, and associated context parameter data necessary to create a detailed Gantt chart of individual wafer movement and processing from start to finish, and allocate each contiguous time segment to its associated “active” or “wait” time element. The insights gained from this sort of visualization point directly to the opportunities cited above for improved tool control and factory scheduling.

Excerpts of these standards, a treeview representation of their respective models, and examples of the potential tracking displays are shown below.

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Note that the SEMI E164 “Specification for EDA Common Metadata” calls for the inclusion of E90, E157, and a list of other GEM300 standards in the EDA equipment metadata model, so any E164-compliant equipment would directly and completely support such a material tracking application.

This article is only the second in the series recently announced in the Models in Smart Manufacturing Series Introduction posting – be sure to watch for subsequent postings that will expand on this theme.

We look forward to your feedback and to sharing the Smart Manufacturing journey with you.

*The list of potential “wait” states for semiconductor manufacturing has now been precisely defined and standardized as SEMI E168 “Specification for Product Time Measurement.” The standard also describes how they can be calculated using a specific set of standard material movement events commonly used in 300mm manufacturing equipment.

Topics: Interface A, EDA

Making Cimetrix Lean

Posted by Richard Howard: Director of Tech Ops on May 3, 2017 12:40:00 PM

lean-six-sigma-green-belt-t.pngDo you have waste in your organization?  Does your organization do things that seem inefficient? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you might want to consider Lean.  If you answered no, you are in denial!  We all have processes and procedures that are inefficient.  Processes and procedures tend to grow over time with items added on to address changing business needs or special cases.  At some point, the process has grown so huge that two things occur: (1) It becomes very fragile, such that small changes tend to break it or (2) it is so very intensive that the resources it requires outweigh the benefits it provides.

To determine if you suffer from excessive process and should consider investigating Lean, I would recommend you ask yourself the following questions:  As a business, what are we doing that is less productive? How can we eliminate inefficiencies and implement change to address a problem? How do we know if the change made a difference?  Will that difference bring value to our clients?  These four questions are the key to making meaningful changes and getting rid of entropy and waste in an organization.  This is how you introduce Lean principles into your organization.  Cimetrix began introducing Lean last year: Here is our story.

David Warren, Director of Software Engineering, initially introduced the concept of Lean software development through a book club he started for the Engineering group.  David’s book club read the book Implementing Lean Software Development, From Concept to Cash by Mary and Tom Poppendieck.  The book provides insight into the seven lean principles as they apply to software development.  The timing our study of the the Lean concept coincided with the Cimetrix All Company Gathering.  David proposed doing a value-stream map of one of our key processes as an exercise for the entire company as one of our large group activities.  To ensure the success of the activity, David found a local consulting company that is proficient in Lean to conduct a hands-on workshop for the All Company Gathering activity.

Our first workshop in Lean was conducted by Alan Davis of Promontory Management Group.  The initial four-hour workshop focused on generating an as-is map of our process for handling our Software Change Requests (SCR).  The process involved identifying each of the steps currently used for addressing an SCR as well as the time lapse for each step.  Every member of Cimetrix was involved in identifying the steps involved.  At the end of our workshop, there was a great desire by all involved to look at the next step of how to identify our pain points and look for areas to improve our processes. 

The interest by all our employees was great enough that we changed the schedule for the following mornings activities to continue with a follow-on workshop. During that workshop, we identified several pain points that could be addressed.  The top five were identified, by consensus of all involved. Alan Weber put together a proposal for training a group of Cimetrix employees in the process of Lean Six Sigma using the five identified pain points for hands on training.  The Round Table, our leadership team, felt there would be value in moving forward with implementing lean processes in Cimetrix.

The employees who would be trained in the Lean Six Sigma process, and be responsible for the projects, were taken on a volunteer basis.  Nine people volunteered for the training.  I was one of the volunteers and was assigned to be the facilitator for the overall Lean Six Sigma training.  The training occurred over the course of the next five months for the volunteers.  This was done in addition to each members’ regular work requirements.  The training focused on the principles of Lean.  Terms such as DMAIC, 5-whys, baseline metrics, and ROI were not just studied, they were put into practice by the project leads.  Each project lead put together a team consisting of Cimetrix employees to tackle their assigned project.

Each project lead was awarded a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification at the conclusion of their training.  A celebration was held to present the awards to each of the project leads.  I would like to congratulate:

  • David Warren
  • Brian Rubow
  • Tami Traci
  • Brent Forsgren
  • Jake Strong
  • Mohammad Islam
  • Jesse Wright
  • Kim Daich

Each project lead did an outstanding job both as a participant and as a team leader in this process.  They took on the responsibility of learning, leadership and project execution in a manner that is true to the core values of Cimetrix. 

Topics: Working at Cimetrix, Cimetrix Culture

The Importance of Company Culture when Starting a Career

Posted by Devin Stone on Apr 27, 2017 1:30:00 PM

10-29_company_culture.jpgMaking the transition from college to a career is an exciting challenge for new grads, and is something I’ve become very familiar with since finishing my degree last December.  After graduation, I spent months combing through job postings online and checking out the careers pages for all the growing tech startups along the Wasatch front.  While I was anxious to get working, I didn’t want to just take the first offer that came my way.   It was important to me that I find a position at a company that was more than just a way to pay bills – I wanted to find a career that I really enjoyed, working alongside great coworkers at a company that truly cares about its employees.  After all, that’s what I’d gone to college for, right?  Having a company culture that fostered this kind of working environment became one of my main requirements when I interviewed and visited job prospects. 

Eventually the job hunt led me to Cimetrix.  The listing for the position immediately grabbed my attention since it matched up well to my experience and education.  After sending in my resume and a brief cover letter, I began a multi-part interview process that really impressed me and showed off the great culture that Cimetrix has cultivated.   I met multiple times with different team members from all parts of the company – from Sales and Marketing to Product Development and even upper management.  I was struck by how candid and open the process was.  After every interview, I was asked about my interest level and if I was still seriously considering the opportunity.   There was an emphasis on the interview being a two-way street, I really appreciated being able to ask plenty of questions and make sure that Cimetrix was a good fit for me. 

After the interview process was over,  I received an offer. I knew that Cimetrix was the right place to start my career.   I’ve been with the company for 2 months now and my excitement for the job hasn’t gone away.  Management is friendly and approachable so I always feel like I can walk in and get a direct answer to any question I might have. The phrase "Open Door Policy" is real here.  There’s no micromanaging and I get great constructive feedback for every project work on.  My coworkers are  responsive and extremely capable at what they do.  Even though we have employees all over the globe, everyone knows each other by name and there’s a real feeling of community.  I especially enjoy our “cake days” where we celebrate employee birthdays and learn a little bit about what our coworkers are up to outside the office.

One of the things I like most about the Cimetrix culture is the push to drive out ‘entropy’ (i.e., disorder and disintegration), a concept that comes from Lex Sisney’s book Organizational Physics.  The basic idea is that systems fall apart over time and it's imperative to reduce entropy that comes from internal friction, inefficient processes, or poor management of available resources.   One way that I’ve been involved in driving out entropy is by using working with our CRM  to streamline our sales and marketing processes. I've also helped plan and implement ways to better manage sales collateral and shared documents among our global sales team.  Even in the small time I’ve been at Cimetrix, this ‘entropy-reduction’ push has helped me to change the way I work with my coworkers for the better.

These are just a few of examples of the kind of culture that has made working at Cimetrix a rewarding experience.  I feel lucky to be part of an organization that aligns so well with my own values and working style.  I enjoy being able to say I really love my job and look forward to coming into work each day. A big thanks to everyone here at Cimetrix for making this company a such great place to work.

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