IPC is removing barriers that hamper executives’ ability to align their companies with Industry 4.0 by providing the building blocks for seamless machine-to-machine and machine-to-ERP communications.
In April, IPC released IPC-2591, the Connected Factory Exchange (CFX), which is a plug-and-play standard for equipment communications. Earlier in June, IPC also released the surface-mount equipment communication standard IPC-HERMES-9852, The Global Standard for Machine-to-Machine Communication in SMT Assembly. You may have seen these two standards in action during our live IPC CFX/Hermes factory lines at IPC APEX EXPO 2019.
One line combined both digital SMEMA for machine-to-machine communication and CFX for output messages to a cloud server, and the second line utilized only CFX. The combined line ran printed boards of different sizes through a real-world manufacturing line using equipment from a variety of manufacturers. We also used boards of different sizes, so attendees could see the power of HERMES as equipment was able to communicate upstream to automatically adjust for the new board size.
The CFX line ran the same boards through a separate line to demonstrate how it alone could be used for machine-to-machine and machine-to-ERP communication. The CFX line also featured a solder paste dispensing robot and hand soldering tools communicating in CFX. Further, attendees were able to follow both production lines in real time from their mobile devices and laptops. This provided a glimpse into the possibilities of how to utilize the data reporting from CFX and HERMES in their own facilities as well as the power and simplicity of these two standards.
IPC CFX and HERMES
To say the least, the buzz around these two standards is palpable, and for six good reasons.
1. CFX Provides a Level Playing Field for Manufacturing Companies
This includes manufacturing companies of all sizes and in any location. Setting up IPC CFX in existing equipment can be accomplished in a matter of hours—not days—and the SDKs developed to make it easier are available free of charge.
2. Both Standards Provide a Simple Messaging Protocol for Equipment
The messaging has been developed so that it can apply to new or legacy equipment. That means there’s no more need for custom programming for machine-to-machine messaging or middleware. Eliminating the need for middleware reduces the eventual finger-pointing when adapters inevitably break.
3. The Standards Can Provide Significant Cost Savings
Developing a custom-built communications software, especially for multi-vendor equipment lines, can cost upwards of $30,000 and take up to a full business quarter to implement. IPC CFX and HERMES are free to the industry, and companies have reported to IPC that they were able to implement CFX in less than one day.
4. The SDKs Serve as a Building Block for Enhanced Production Tracking
IPC CFX and HERMES are written so that a company can easily and inexpensively add app-like functionalities for things such as materials traceability or quality improvement.
5. CFX Is Flexible for Almost Any Piece of Equipment or Manufacturing Line
One company loaded CFX into hand soldering tools, and IPC is receiving inquiries on how to implement CFX into non-electronics manufacturing lines.
To read the full article, which appeared in the August 2019 issue of PCB007 Magazine, click here.