Great interest in The Hermes Standard
In time for the 2017 Productronica show: First implementations of the successor to SMEMA
With a successful meeting of all 28 active participants on the day before the official start of the fair and a major “go live” event on its first day, informative panel discussions and first implementation projects, the new standard for machine-to-machine communication in SMT lines had its impressive premiere at the 2017 Productronica trade show. As previously announced, many of the founding members displayed first implementations of Version 1.0 of The Hermes Standard, which is available on the internet at www.the-hermes-standard.info. The partners also discussed and approved some first enhancements and improvements to the standard on the Monday before the show. As a result, the general goal to create a critical prerequisite for the smart factory and establish an open, modern and much more powerful alternative to the obsolete SMEMA standard has essentially been achieved only nine months after the first specification. The huge importance of this standard for the electronics manufacturing industry was further underscored when it was honored with the Global SMT Award in the ‘Software – Process Control’ category.
To automate a flexible electronics factory and integrate data and process flows in the smart SMT factory, being able to track the PCBs as they go through the line is a must. The TCP/IP- and XML-based protocol of The Hermes Standard makes it possible for the first time to transport circuit boards through all stations of the line with full traceability and no loss of data while minimizing the need for reading devices such as barcode scanners. By employing basic technologies like XML and TCP/IP, The Hermes Standard works with easy-to-use and affordable cables and connectors – something that used to be a major challenge with SMEMA during service calls and especially when lines had to be reconfigured. In addition, the standard’s protocol-based instead of signal-based specification makes for easy implementation and advancement.
With The Hermes Standard, a modern and future-proof successor to the obsolete SMEMA standard is finally available.
Open and democratic: The Hermes Standard Initiative
When SMT equipment providers who were actively involved in The Hermes Standard Initiative held their first meeting in the spring of 2017, they announced that they would present first implementations already at the 2017 Productronica trade show, and they delivered: new projects and solutions were shown at many booths. First field tests are currently running or will start in the coming weeks. Visitors and vendors alike considered this to be clear proof of the standard’s easy implementability as well as of the participating companies’ determination.
As a result, the already great interest in The Hermes Standard only kept growing over the course of the Productronica event. Only nine months after the first specification, which was jointly approved by sixteen companies, the group of active participants has already grown to 28 well-known names: Achat5, ASM Assembly Systems, Asys Automatisierungssysteme, CyberOptics, ERSA, GÖPEL, Heller Industries, IPTE, ITW EAE, KIC, Koh Young, Kulicke & Soffa, MIRTEC, Mycronic, Nutek, Omron, PARMI, Pemtron, Rehm Thermal Systems, RG Elektrotechnologie, SAKI, SPEA, SMT Thermal Discoveries, Viscom, Vi Technology, ViTrox, YJ Link, and Yxlon. And companies like BESI, MagicRay Shenzhen, Seica Automation and Sonic Technology have already confirmed that they will join. Other companies expressed great interest and are about to make a decision.
An open standard and transparent advancement processes
The Hermes Standard’s total openness and the availability of its specification on the internet at www.the-hermes-standard.info are important factors for its rapid and sustained development as a global standard. In addition, any equipment manufacturer can join the initiative and actively participate in the further advancement of The Hermes Standard.
New requirements and solution proposals are discussed within the initiative via a common web-based platform before they are drafted out. Final decisions on these drafts are made during regular member meetings via a transparent and democratic process.
Irrespective of these procedures, each vendor can examine the specification and develop his own solutions, because all the necessary information is available at no charge at www.the-hermes-standard.info.
ASM demonstrates the new standard’s capabilities
As an example of the solutions shown by various vendors, ASM presented an advanced application at its in-house show during the Productronica: Applying printed barcode labels to boards can lead to uneven surfaces and unstable printing processes. ASM now makes it possible to apply the barcode via a label feeder installed in one of the line’s SIPLACE placement machines. When the AOI system reads this label at the end of the line, manufacturing information from the preceding processing steps such as printing, SPI, placement and reflow can be assigned retroactively to each board and stored in a database thanks to The Hermes Standard. Process engineers and automatic systems like the ASM ProcessExpert can then use this board-specific data for process analyses and optimizations.
“The green arrow of The Hermes Standard’s logo was visible all over the Productronica exhibition floor. The great interest of show visitors and the large number of new supporters were evidence of the need for the kind of modern M2M communication that The Hermes Standard makes possible. Equipment manufacturers and potential users are especially excited about the consortium’s fundamental decisions like that standard’s use of XML and TCP/IP as basic technologies. At this time, the member companies are already working hard on version 2.0, which will feature even broader data communication capabilities,” says Thomas Bliem, Director Product Management at ASM and Chair of The Hermes Standard initiative.