Automation and Convergence

The central themes at this year’s Semicon West exhibition and conference in San Francisco were automation and connectivity in the journey towards a smart factory environment, and convergence between Advanced Packaging technologies and the SMT factory.

The first of these themes was on display at the Smart Factory feature in the South Hall at the Moscone Center. A range of different bonders, placement equipment and other supporting processes were on display and showing their connectivity using SECS/GEM. Interestingly, the SECS/GEM software interface has been around for years and is still predominant in Front End and Back End semiconductor manufacturing.

There is increasing evidence of a convergence between Back End packaging and the SMT line.

Many of the tier One CEMs, such as Jabil and FLEX are still using this platform and seem committed to furthering its development.

By their own admission, SEMI admits there appears to have been a disconnect between the semiconductor community and the EMS side of the business. Many on the EMS side were not happy with SECS/GEM because they had to pay a subscription for it and they felt the platform had stagnated over the past 4-5 years. But, SEMI tells a different story and claim that development has continued apace at the Front End manufacturing, including new development on how to deal with EDA (large data sets), but that had not trickled down to Back End packaging or the EMS end of the business.

In the meantime, the EMS industry has been busy working with trade associations and supplier groups to develop their own solutions; The Hermes Standard, JARA and IPC’s CfX. Each of these solutions is continuing to evolve and shows no signs of chang ing horses at this late stage. One interesting observation is that JARA (Japanese Robotics Association) seems to integrate seamlessly with SECS/GEM, while The Hermes Standard integrates with CfX.

Talking about integration, there is increasing evidence of a convergence between Back End packaging and the SMT line. As devices become smaller and more electronics are required to be packed into the same space, miniaturization is driving the convergence between these two industries. Already, many manufacturers such as FLEX and STI Microelectronics have incorporated clean rooms into their factory space.

I have to say this does bring me some solace. When Global SMT & Packaging was formed in 2000, the name was derived from the globalization of the industry and the anticipated convergence of Back End packaging and SMT.

Who would have thought it would take 18 years to come to fruition!

– Trevor Galbraith, Editor-in-Chief


Errata: In the June 2018 issue, on Page 30, we mistakenly stated that “Zollner Elektronik completed the construction on its 12.500 m2 HQ near the village of Zandt in the Netherlands.” Zandt, is in fact, in Germany. We regret this error.


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