New ways to make production tools communicate with Fab IT System
With the attempt to boost digitalisation of the European Industry, the success of Productive4.0 to a large degree depends on the expertise of smaller and highly specialized partners involved. As to the SoS-based architecture platform developed in work package1, which can be described as the backbone of all activities, it takes a neat adaptation and remodelling of specific communication standards for the manufacturing industry.
This is where French based specialist Agileo Automation comes into play. In the field of automation, the SME company with its 17 employees focuses on software solutions and services for manufacturers, including semiconductor industries. Based on its flagship A²ECF Framework, Agileo’s solutions supervise and control production tools together with their robotics platforms and let them communicate with Fab IT system to ensure digital chain continuity.
Translating legacy standard into Industry4.0 communication
In the project, it works closely with French partner CEA on virtualising semiconductor production equipment. In doing so, one of the main challenges in order to achieve progress is to translate the legacy SEMI standard into OPC UA. And within SEMI, SECS/GEM relates to the communication between the MES (Manufacturing Execution System) and production equipment. OPC UA in turn, is a new standard and a path forward from the original OPC (Open Platform Communications) communications model to meet the needs of industrial automation.
In WP1 Agileo defines and implements a gateway to map model elements from SEMI standards to OPC UA model specified by CEA. In the end, it will assess OPC UA capability against the legacy technology. All of the research work as to interoperability is based on its framework A²ECF.
“The methodology to transpose SEMI standards semantics into OPC UA was subject of a scientific publication presented at the ETFA Conference in Zaragoza last September,” Agileo General Manager Marc Engel says. “We are now working on a semi-conductor tool emulator that will “talk” SECS/GEM and we want to build a gateway between SECS/GEM and OPC UA. This way we expect to be able to prove that we can control a semi-conductor tool with OPC UA using operational scenario for real factories like in ST-Microelectronics or Infineon”.
Agileo framework complementary to Arrowhead
Engel expects that in the end, Agileo will be able to initiate a new information model inside OPC UA for semiconductor tools and to be able to participate in interoperability for any kind of tools in semiconductor manufacturing as well as in other industries.
Being asked on the interaction between Agileo’s A²ECF Framework and the general framework in the project, Engel says: “Arrowhead is a framework on a different level because it can address the complete IT System of a factory. We are working only with original equipment manufacturers, OEMs. A²ECF is a specialised for automation on production tools. It is designed to control the tools, to communicate with the robots, to make the scheduling at the equipment level and to connect the tool to the IT system – so it can be complementary to Arrowhead, and we are working on the architecture definition to interoperate with Arrowhead using OPC-UA standard”.
Even though Agileo is a comparatively small but important project partner, in its way, it tackles all of the three pillars Productive4.0 is focusing on: It is actively contributing to Digital Production taking aspects of Life Cycle Management into account. And since it is about connecting everything it indirectly addresses the Supply Chain Network. “We are lucky to be part of the project and the network which helps us to define our future roadmap. It is a major opportunity for a SME like us to be even better recognised,” Engel adds.