Interview – Thomas Bliem

■ “We as equipment providers have accepted the challenges of Industry 4.0 and are doing
our part to develop integrated SMT factories.” Thomas Bliem, Director Product Management
Placement Systems at ASM.

Hermes Software Project 

On March 22nd, a consortia of 17 equipment suppliers met in Munich to discuss the outline for a new machine-to-machine communication software called ‘Hermes’. Trevor Galbraith interviewed one of the principal architects of the new platform, Thomas Bliem from ASM Assembly Systems.

This is pretty exciting news Thomas. My first question has got to be, we’ve got some existing software already out there, with the Mentor Graphics’ OLM and the new standard coming through, the CFX standard from IPC, why do we need Hermes or how does that fit into the production environment? 

It is actually very good how this fits into the big picture. Basically, Hermes’ stan- dard has taken care of the complications between machines only. MES involvement is not needed at this level.

If you compare this to what IPC has done in the past, they have tried to standardize the connection between machines to host systems such as Camex. Mentor Graphics Siemens has a similar approach – it is always a machine to host system connection. On the opposite side, Hermes takes care of the board flow management, building the foundation of any industry 4.0 solution and the product itself will drive the process and the handling of the process over the complete line. It simplifies everything.

The Hermes standard will be open for everyone to join. You attend a meeting, you become an open partner. The you can also influence what is going to happen. It is becoming somewhat viral now.

I see. I understand that the way Hermes works is that it carries packets of information with the board and passes it to the next machine on the line. Is that correct?

■ “We want to establish an effective standard for M2M communication across the entire SMT line.” Florian Ritter, Manager Business & Product Portfolio Development of the ASYS Group.

That is a very good description. Hermes takes care of the control, supports the board flow, and board synchronization much better than the SMEMA can do because SMEMA does have some disadvantages here. Together with the board itself, the data packet travels along the line getting enriched along the way. The more data that becomes available, the more data will be in the packet, such as WIS or a unique board identifier or product information, then you can automatically adjust certain things – like conveyor speed, future adjustment, also product download of recipe can be done in the future. This is what it is all about.

Very interesting. So you can really control the belt speed, the actual flow of the job. That’s really good. When can we expect to see the first iteration of this software, when will it be available?

We had a very cool kick-off meeting two weeks ago with 17 companies. At the beginning, we came into the room, nobody knew what to expect. A lot of competition there also, yet we all became partners, agreeing we would adopt the Hermes standard on 4.0. Now we are implementing it and at productronica, we will go live, showing to our common customer base what we can do together as an industry.

Beyond the consortium of 17 companies, are you going to expand, allowing addi- tional companies to participate?

That is the basic idea, that is what is hap- pening in the background right now. A lot of interest following the press release. A lot of companies are starting to discuss with us. The Hermes standard will be open for everyone to join. You attend a meeting, you become an open partner. The you can also influence what is going to happen. It is cool. It is becoming somewhat viral now.

■ 17 leading equipment suppliers to the electronics manufacturing industry have agreed on the non-proprietary “The Hermes Standard for vendor-independent machine-to-machine communication in SMT assembly.”

Excellent. The official kick-off is going to be at productronica, but next month we’ve got the SMT Hybrid Packaging event in Nuremberg. I am hoping we can have a sit down with some of the partners and really go into some detail on how Hermes works.

This would be really cool to meet you again, and we hope to have more com- panies join and become one big group of partners.

I look forward to it. Thomas, thank you for joining us today.

–TREVOR GALBRAITH

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