The rapid emergence of sensor bus technology in the semiconductor industry over the past decade prompted SEMI (Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International), the standards organisation for the semiconductor industry, to aggressively pursue a suite of sensor bus standards. A comprehensive suite of standards has now been developed and approved by SEMI for sensor buses within the semiconductor industry (E54), and these standards are already having a significant impact, with an installed base at many users and OEMs. SafetyBUS p is now the first safety-related SEMI standard for sensor bus technology to be included in the E54 suite of standards, under the designation E54.15 - Sensor/Actuator Network Communication Standard for SafetyBUS p
Along with the development of SEMI safety standards promoting the acceptance and use of programmable safety systems and safety-related networks (SEMI S2-0703 Environmental, Health, and Safety Guideline for Semiconductor Equipment), the addition of a safety-related fieldbus into E54 enables semiconductor manufacturers to maximise the benefits of the safety technology by combining a safety fieldbus with programmable safety systems.
The SafetyBUS p protocol is well suited as an enabling technology for sensor bus safety applications within the semiconductor industry; it is already the most widely utilised safety network. SafetyBUS p is based on the deterministic CAN industrial networking protocol, and is designed to be inherently safe. SafetyBUS p is therefore highly attractive for safety networking in semiconductor manufacturing.
SEMI compliance requires that a Network Communication Standard (NCS) in E54 supports the SEMI standardised device models (Common Device Model and Specific Device Models). This required the enhancement of the SafetyBUS p protocol specification to support the SEMI NCS and communication of SEMI device object data. This enhancement specification was developed as part of the standardisation process and will be available from the SafetyBUS p Club International eV after the publication date in March 2005.
In order for equipment to conform to SEMI standards and interoperate with other safety-related equipment, it is necessary to undertake conformance testing. The University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA) will provide SEMI conformance testing of SafetyBUS p devices, in addition to being a SafetyBUS p Conformance Test Centre. The University of Michigan is ideally suited to take the lead with SEMI and SafetyBUS p conformance testing, with its enviable track record of fieldbus conformance testing incorporating SEMI conformance requirements.
One of the primary purposes of SEMI, the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International organisation, is to bring together people connected with the semiconductor industry to exchange ideas and work towards solving common technical problems and the improvement and stabilisation of standards in the semiconductor industry.
SEMI standards are intended to promote worldwide understanding between users and suppliers based upon mutually agreed definitions and product specifications related to the manufacture of semiconductors and flat panel displays. SEMI standards are designed to define current practice for, and to drive industry improvement in, both quality and performance.
The SEMI Standards Program, established in 1973, covers all aspects of semiconductor process equipment and materials, from wafer manufacturing to test, assembly and packaging, in addition to the manufacture of flat panel displays and micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS). Several hundred volunteers worldwide participate in the programme, which is made up of 17 global technical committees. To date more than 690 standards have been published by SEMI. More information about SEMI standards can be found on the SEMI website.
The University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA) has already worked with SafetyBUS p safety networks in a Reconfigurable Factory Testbed (RFT). The National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Reconfigurable Manufacturing Systems (ERC-RMS) at the University of Michigan has implemented a multi-level safety network architecture in its RFT. The RFT consists of both real and virtual machines controlled over a communication network and co-ordinated through a unified software architecture; it is being used to study, verify and transfer reconfigurable manufacturing concepts for industries such as automotive and machine tools. The multi-layer safety network is implemented to provide for safe operation of a serial-parallel machining line in the RFT, but is also being utilised to study multi-level safety network design and optimisation. The RFT facility and research into safety networks is especially attractive as it comes at a time when safety networks are being considered as a replacement for point-to-point hard-wired safety in a number of applications. More information about the RFT is available on the SafetyBUS p Club International website .
SafetyBUS p Club International eV is the independent organisation of SafetyBUS p users, integrators and developers, which promotes the use and technical development of SafetyBUS p technology in safety-related automation. The organisation was founded in 1999 and comprises over 60 members; there are more than 115,000 SafetyBUS p installed nodes to date.