Manufacturing / Production Technology, Hardware & Services

Open SMT assembly standard enjoying strong uptake

18 April 2018 Manufacturing / Production Technology, Hardware & Services News

A new standard has been developed to enable open, non-proprietary and vendor-independent machine-to-machine communication in SMT assembly lines. The Hermes Standard was officially launched at Productronica 2017, during which time the body responsible for its creation – the Hermes Standard Initiative – also held its first formal meeting.

Based on TCP/IP and XML, Hermes provides flexible data structures to seamlessly exchange all essential types of board-related data such as dimensions and different ID types. Keeping track of every board being assembled is therefore possible without the need for repeatedly reading barcodes or other ID tags again at each machine.

The standard can be adopted by any equipment manufacturer without any licence fee, and already counts nearly 30 vendors among its members, with around a dozen more having committed to join at the next meeting. Version 1.0 was released in April 2017, providing an impressive set of board flow management functions, and future versions will further grow other functionalities, step by step implementing more and more smart processes into electronics manufacturing.

According to the Hermes Standard Initiative, it chose to go the route of an open initiative rather than an IPC working group in order to allow all members to be fast and close to the application. The initiative members can focus on driving the content of the standard rather than struggling with a cumbersome standardisation process.

For electronics manufacturers interested in taking advantage of the benefits the Hermes Standard offers, initial solutions based on the protocol were already presented at Productronica 2017. In addition to that, some initiative members are planning to provide upgrade kits for their existing equipment in the field to support this new standard.

The Hermes Standard Initiative emphasised that the standard drives horizontal integration along the SMT line, rather than vertical integration from the SMT line to an MES. It is not in conflict with IPC’s CfX and Mentor’s OML protocols, but should rather be viewed as a complementary technology for complex production environments. In simpler environments with less demand in terms of process data, traceability, process interlocking etc., the Hermes Standard can, however, act as a standalone solution.

The Hermes standard specification and a test driver are available for free download from the Hermes Standard Initiative’s website.

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