The purpose of e-diagnostics is to enable remote, secure access to key data sources including process equipment, as well as process and yield databases to enable supply chain collaboration. This collaboration can reduce support costs and repair time. In addition, sharing information with the supply chain will drive continuous improvement and new product development.
We should not forget what's at stake for chipmakers here. Each hour of downtime can cost a fab as much as $100,000 in lost revenue. A fab that reduces downtime by 1% on 50 of its most critical pieces of equipment has the potential to save close to $100 million annually. Industry statistics shows that fab equipment experiences at least 8% unscheduled downtime and another 7% scheduled downtime.
The solution is e-diagnostics. With e-diagnostics, equipment experts at the OEM's home office are linked directly to the tool, allowing them to diagnose problems almost as easily as if they were standing in front of it. With proper authorization from its customer, the OEM can run the tool through its paces, pinpoint what's going wrong and figure out how to fix it.
Currently, SEMATECH proposes an infrastructure that will operate on up to four levels of capability:
One result of these initiatives is the SEMI standard E54.9, Specification for Sensor/Actuator Network Communication for Modbus/TCP over TCP/IP. This standard describes how sensors communicate over Ethernet.Also, these Ethernet sensors use Web server technology for administration. Using a simple Web browser, users can monitor the status of communications and sensor health, as well as configure the sensors for operation. Use of standard, readily available information technology makes it easy for a factory to deploy and maintain these products.
This approach is being extended to process equipment. The emergence of equipment servers is a result of the industry's desire to adopt modern IT for communications on the factory floor. Current process equipment uses industry-standard SECS/GEM peer-to-peer communication that may actually inhibit the industry from moving forward with process and equipment control. Peer-to-peer protocols prevent the user from easily accessing equipment data, which is a vital source for improving equipment productivity. Typically, this connection is dedicated to a host connection that ties the equipment to the manufacturing execution system (MES). Also, the SECS/GEM standard does not employ modern object-oriented interfaces like Java or Active X that allow for rapid development of software applications. By inserting an equipment server between the process equipment and the host connection, multiple users can concurrently access the process equipment through high-level object interfaces, thereby enabling APC and e-diagnostics equipment productivity schemes.
Today, Ethernet has evolved to be deterministic and robust enough to accommodate the timing and environmental demands of the plant floor. This is accomplished through proper network design and tools such as switch gear, local area networks (LANs), routers and industrially hardened products. As manufacturers seek to connect previously disparate islands of automation and network plant floor data with enterprise information systems, they are increasingly leveraging the power of Ethernet. By connecting the entire enterprise through this open-standard networking technology, users can access real-time enterprise data and make more timely decisions, leading to better collaboration and higher productivity.
Ethernet and other IP-based networks offer a variety of additional benefits, including: 1) scalability to accommodate the growth needs of manufacturers; 2) high-speed data transmission rates; 3) cost-effective installation and maintenance; 4) a range of network management capabilities; and 5) choice of cabling types, or wireless deployment for greater mobility.
Some of the key e-diagnostic components:
Contact us if you are interested in development of e-Diagnostics.
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