PC-2591, Connected Factory Exchange (IPC-CFX), is the open industry standard that uniquely defines both the transport and language of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) messaging, ensuring true “plug and play” communication that avoids very significant investment in custom interfacing and middleware otherwise associated with the digital transformation of manufacturing, even when using other data transportation standards. IPC-2591 establishes the specific requirements for the omnidirectional exchange of information between manufacturing processes and associated host systems for assembly manufacturing. The standard applies to communication between all executable processes in the manufacture of printed board assemblies – automated, semiautomated and manual – and is applicable to related mechanical assembly and transactional processes. Since its launch in March 2019, IPC-2591 / IPC-CFX has been updated approximately every six months, to account for new needs within equipment and factories, as well as to support new equipment endpoints covered by the standard. The IPC-CFX Standard Task Group and the IPC Plug & Players A-Team – the key subject matter experts who manage updates to the standard for task group review and approval – conduct this regular maintenance and updates to the standard to ensure IPC-CFX is in a place to be ubiquitous throughout the industry. Over the past year alone, these volunteer groups have made some significant updates to the standard to meet current and future needs of industry, that enable modern, Smart Manufacturing benefits from solutions adopting the standard. The following is a summary of some of these key updates
Environmental sustainability and reduced energy consumption are key factors of Environmental Social Governance (ESG). Hence, electronics manufacturers need to focus on how to reasonably manage energy consumption in their factories. Besides normal production, electronics manufacturing equipment may offer different states of operation. Such states are characterized by certain energy savings and a state-specific wake-up time to get back to normal production. Since a particular machine in an SMT line does not know the full production context of this line, e.g., planned production, scheduled downtime, it cannot switch itself into an energy-saving state, because by doing so it might not be ready for production when needed. A supervisory system, e.g., MES, knows planned production, shifts, scheduled downtime, etc., for an SMT line, but unless manually configured, it does not know each equipment’s capabilities concerning energy management. Hence there is a gap between supervisory system knowledge and equipment capabilities, which today requires tedious manual configuration to set up a reasonable energy management.
IPC-CFX now provides a set of messages to close this gap:• Supervisory System can query equipment capabilities concerning energy management. CFX.GetEndpointInformation Request / Response, response message contains a list of possible sleep stateswith three par ameters:
+ Name of the sleep state,
+ Percentage of saved energy,
+ Wake-up time to get back to productive state
• Supervisory system can control energy management state of equipment. CFX.ResourcePerformance. Change Sleep State Request requests an equipment to change to a sleep state or back to productive
• Equipment will regularly report energy usage and power consumption. CFX.Resource Performance. EnergyConsumed with detailed information about energy usage and power consumption
• Supervisory system can query equipment’s energy usage and power consumption. CFX.ResourcePerformance.
EnergyConsumptionRequest / Response, response message contains detailed information about energy usage and power consumption
Unexpected issues relating to machines and other production resources create significant disruption to the optimization and delivery completion scheduling of a manufacturing operation. Maintenance work is therefore performed to prevent unexpected breakdowns, but in themselves maintenance jobs consume production time. Because of this, there is often a compromise made between risk of failure and cost of maintenance, especially where it is assumed that machines can run without significant risk beyond their scheduled maintenance times. The easiest form of maintenance is planned based on time intervals, such as daily, weekly or monthly. In many cases, these maintenance jobs may be done more frequently than necessary, as in some cases, the machines may not have been utilized to their fullest extent. A better method evolved that equated the frequency of maintenance jobs with the measured operation time performed by each machine. In this way, much of the unneeded maintenance could be avoided, but the accumulation of machine utilization time is limited in most cases to a simple number of hours in which the machine was active, meaning that maintenance continued to be done in many cases when it was not needed. By contrast, predictive maintenance uses data associated with the health and performance of an automated resource, as measured by sensors, including temperature, vibration, energy consumption profile and more, depending on the type and function of the resource concerned. In the case of a cooling fan, for example, the speed of rotation, vibration and electric current would be the key factors that would indicate the health of the resource. IPC-CFX messages such as CFX. Maintenance. Get Resource Information and CFX. Maintenance. GetResource Setup were created to break down the machine automation into its significant resources, each of which then has a predictive maintenance profile created. Information about the operation of these resources is periodically sent to a predictive maintenance solution, that may be a part of an existing supervisory software, a vendor-specific solution, third-party or self-devloped. IPC-CFX messages such as CFX. Maintenance. Resource Information Event are used to provide the data which realtime analytics, such as machine learning, identify patterns and trends associated with the performance of the resource as it approaches the end of its usable service, providing alerts to efficiently plan appropriate maintenance. This ensures losses associated with maintenance are minimized, while retaining a risk-free operational environment. Without IPC-CFX, this intelligent approach to maintenance would require the development and customization of many different interfaces for equipmentactive on the shop floor, with significant barriers for holistic solutions that are required for a single team to maintain machines from different vendors. The use of IPC-CFX makes this smart innovation cost effective and practical.
Improved alignment with hermes standard
IPC-CFX and IPC-HERMES-9852, The Global Standard for Machine-to-Machine Communication in SMT Assembly are
seamlessly complementary IIoT standards for communication in a smart factory:
• IPC-HERMES-9852 providesMachine-to-Machine (M2M) communication for transferring PCBs and associated data – “horizontal” communication.
• IPC-CFX provides machine-tosupervisory system as well asSW-application-to-SW-application communication – “vertical”
communication. The data transferred by HERMES together with the PCB comprises a lightweight Digital Twin of the PCB.
HERMES ensures consistency of individual data and related PCB data while it is traveling down an SMT line in production. Hence, this lightweight Digital Twin is an ideal basis for data-driven workflows for an SMT line, e.g., automatic conveyor width adjustment, automatic program change. However, these HERMES data need to be initialized, usually at the beginning of
the SMT line. For this purpose, IPC-CFX was enhanced to offer messages to query all relevant production data either for a
single PCB or a set of PCBs in a magazine or box:
• With CFX.Production.Hermes. MagazineArrived / Departed, a machine notifies a supervisory system about the arrival or departure of PCBs
• With CFX.Production.Hermes. GetMagazineDataRequest / Response, a machine can query all relevant data of the PCBs in a magazine
• With CFX.Production.Hermes.GetWorkOrderDataRequest / Response, a machine can query all relevant data concerning the work order to be executed HERMES provides messages similar to the IPC-CFX messages listed above, so that machines that cannot communicate via IPC-CFX due to hardware limitations can still exchange this data through a simple HERMES/IPC-CFX proxy.
Many EMS factories are looking to explore advanced analytics use-cases such as “big data” and AI. These kinds of systems need to be fed with large amounts of machine data such as the messages that IPC-CFX endpoints continually publish with the details of their status and work. However, IPC-CFX messages are ephemeral, meant to communicate data in flight from a producer to one or more consumers. This leads to a challenge since each factory would need to build a system that captures these IPC-CFX messages and saves them into a database, data lake, data lake house, data warehouse, etc., for analysis. For a factory just looking to explore whether advanced analytics might help them, building such a system can be a daunting task before the use case and ROI is even proven out. To facilitate factories starting to use IPC-CFX data for analytics, a new, opensource, IPC-CFX Recorder software program was developed for IPC-CFX, version 1.6. It can be accessed at: https://github.com/IPCConnected Factory Exchange/CFX Recorder The IPC-CFX Recorder is designed to record all IPC-CFX messages generated in a factory and make it easy to transfer them into any other analytics systemor datab ase. For factories looking to explore advanced analytics on top of machine data, the IPC-CFX Recorder can be an easy way to get started before investing time or money in a more complicated solution
Tabular Data Attachments
IPC-CFX has always supported the collection of rich machine data. For example, SPI machines can send details on the exact solder paste volume, area and height for every inspected solder pad, in addition to defects and barcodes. This has been a core feature of IPC-CFX for many versions; however, in practice, sending these details could result in very large IPC-CFX messages (many megabytes in size per message) which are difficult to transmit and receive. This led to a dilemma in which using IPC-CFX to transfer large amounts of tabular data such as solder paste measurements, Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) component offset measurements or In-Circuit Testing (ICT) measurements was both highly desirable for analytics but also practically challenging to implement and often not done. IPC-CFX, version 1.6 solves this problem by introducing the concept of tabular data attachments for IPC-CFX messages. These attachments work similarly to email attachments and are designed to allow IPC-CFX messages to contain large amounts of tabular data without getting large or unwieldy. The first attachments supported are for Solder Paste Inspection (SPI) and AOI measurements, allowing machine vendors to efficiently include all measurement details recording during inspection. Over time the new attachment mechanism in IPC-CFX will be extended to other kinds of tabular data and ensure that IPC-CFX endpoints are not forced to leave data out of messages to decrease
Upgrades to IPC-CFX-2591 qualification
Beginning in 2020, IPC-2591 was updated to support qualification of equipment endpoints, with mandatory and optional capabilities assigned to each equipment type (pick and place, oven, AXI, etc.). The IPC-CFX Validation and Qualification system was then set up to serve as a virtual workspace for equipment manufacturers to test their IPCCFX installations and – once at least the mandatory capabilities are being sent and consumed – can submit their equipment for third-party virtual audit. Equipment that successfully passed this qualification process is then listed on the IPCCFX-2591 Qualified Products List (QPL). There are now more than 70 pieces of equipment that have been qualified, with more being qualified on a regular basis. Due to industry demand, the in 2022 the task group also expanded the qualification endpoints in IPC-2591 to include cleaning equipment and a new Generic classification.The task group created the Generic endpoint to satisfy companies with equipment not on the qualification table in the standard to have a fast path to success to qualification. The Generic endpoint focuses on basic IPC-CFX functions which could support any piece of manufacturing equipment. By having a Generic option in the qualification system, vendors can demonstrate the mandatory IPC-CFX capabilities for their equipment while working with vendors of the same equipment type through the A-Team and task group to expand the capabilities of IPC-2591 to include those of significance to their equipment type. From the standpoint of equipment buyers, the IPC-CFX-2591 QPL was also enhanced in 2022 to provide ideal visibility into all of the specific IPC-CFX capabilities each vendor has qualified for their equipment as well as which optional capabilities have not been qualified. This is a very important capability of the qualification system because it demonstrates to customers the level of IPC-CFX capabilities they will get for their factory operation needs. To view the current list of equipment on the IPC-CFX-2591 QPL and for more information on qualification of equipment, visit https://www.ipc.org/ipc-cfx2591-qualified-products-list-qpl.
IPC-CFX as the lifeblood of the smart factory of the future
IPC-CFX is an enabler of many, true Industry 4.0 values, through the establishment of an interoperable ecosystem of solutions based on interoperable data exchange. Many such solutions are orientated towards the implementation of other IPC Smart Manufacturing standards. Solutions supporting the IPC1782 traceability standard, for example, require the collection of precise process and material utilization data, all aspects of which are supported in and provided by IPC-CFX, in a single neutral language format, no matter the source of the data. Traceability with IPC-CFX also contributes towards satisfying the requirements of the IPC-1792 cybersecurity standard, which includes the need for data relating to associations of materials consumed by each production unit created. This will also be the case for new standards under development, such as IPC-1783 for material and product provenance, where material to product relationship data is also required, with additional bidirectional control capabilities. Data structures associated with these wider applications of IPC-CFX, with the addition of sustainability orientated towards the circular economy, are to be captured in the next iteration of the IPC-2551 Digital Twin standard for interoperable architecture. Specific to design data, IPC-CFX has the facility to provide access to design data libraries created in IPC-2581 format, in a highly secure and modular way. This leads towards the ability for automated data preparation within assembly, test and inspection operations, without the need to disclose the complete design data to the manufacturing company, retaining security and privacy of intellectual property. Software programming tools request only the needed portion of the design data using IPC-CFX messages, such as CFX. Information System. Data Transfer. File Transfer Request, and then release it after processing, without the need to locally retain that data. Many such step-change innovations in Smart Manufacturing are happening today, with IPC-CFX at the core, which prior to IPC-CFX would have been practically unthinkable.
Thinking inside the box
Although native implementations of IPC-CFX are ideal, in which machine vendors provide IPC-CFX communication as a part of the machine itself through qualification, the task group recognizes this may be a hindrance to near-term adoption of IPC-CFX in cases where older or simpler machines may not be practical to support IPC-CFX communication internally. In 2022, a new A-Team, Raspberry Beret, was formed to set the framework for an industry-developed solution to help any manufacturer to implement IPC-CFX on legacy lines. The focus of this project is to define an IPC-CFX standards-based open-hardware interface, designed to enable existing machines that cannot support IPC-CFX natively through software alone to become part of an IPC-CFX communication infrastructure. The goal is a practical and affordable option that provides IPC-CFX support at any desired IPCCFX endpoints where natively supported IPC-CFX machines are not available. In a matter of several months, this teamwas able to develop an early protot ype of this hardware and software, which was demonstrated at IPC APEX EXPO 2023. The hardware comprises readily available, off the shelf components, locally available across the world, including a CANBUS controller with four-wire connection and a Raspberry Pi. The architec-ture as developed is modular and scalable, consisting of a primary controller and optional add-on modules, connected using CANBUS, a specialized LAN widely used in automotive and industrial uses, with proven use over many years. CANBUS is extremely modular and flexible, with simple wiring and installation, and there are many standard hardware and circuits available. For the prototype demonstration at APEX EXPO, a light tower was used to indicate the IPC-CFX status of a production station. The IPC-CFX endpoint utilized light sensors that detect the illumination of each segment of the light tower and converted the information into an IPC-CFX “state” message. The light tower changed illumination based on the IPC-CFX Station State messages received:
• No Lamps: Station State – Off
• Green: Station State – Running /Ready
• Amber: Station State – Running with fault
• Red: Station State – Stopped (Fault)
All messaging between the box and the tower were viewable in real time viathe IPC Connected Factory Exchange virtual broker. By the end of the three-day demonstration, nearly 500,000 IPCCFX messages had been received via the broker. As this device matures in development in the months ahead, it can be applicable to:
• Older machines with “locked” software environments
• Any machines that do not have internal software capabilities
• Tools that do not have capabilities to add IPC-CFX endpoint software
• Creation of hardware-based specialist sensors and devices to perform advanced measurement / control The A-Team responsible for this project continues to work to build on this prototype for a real-world solution that could be used by any factory. Anyone with interest in working with the A-Team on this project should contact answers@ ipc.org.
How to get started with ipc-cfx and participate in its evolution
If your company has an interest in learning more about adopting IPC-CFX for your factory, or equipment for your customers, the IPC-CFX website (www.ipc.org/ipc-cfx) contains a multitude of tools and resources to support your pathto IPC-CFX implementations. On the site, you will find: Software tools and engineering support resources, which includes a link to the Github repository where you can access the latest IPC-CFX SDK at no cost. This area of the site also includes valuable resources for engineers working on IPCCFX implementations, including latest documentation, explanations of AMQP and JSON for IPC-CFX and information on how IPC-CFX compares with other factory data standards (e.g., OPC-UA, MTConnect). The IPC-CFX education series, 15-minute courses designed for equipment suppliers, software developers and IT professionals interested in implementing IPC-CFX in their own products or factory environments. Archived IPC-CFX webinars. Information about professional engineering services for IPC-CFX implementations. If your company has interest in helping to continue to shape IPC-CFX for industry, you should also consider join ing the IPC-CFX Standard Task Group. As a task group member, you will have the opportunity to review and comment on draft versions of the standard and be able to stay abreast of IPC-CFX updates as they are happening. If your company has equipment you would like added as endpoints for IPC-CFX qualification or if you are an EMS or software solutions provider with interest in playing an active role in the growth of IPC-CFX, consider joining one of the A-Teams mentioned in this article. As an A-Team member, you will show your company as a leader in the global industry’s transition to IPC-CFX. For more information about joining the IPC-CFX Standard Task Group or A-Teams, contact email@example.com. Michael Ford is co-chair of the IPC-CFX Standard Task Group and a member of the Plug & Players and Raspberry Beret A-Teams. Thomas Marktscheffel is co-chair of the IPC-CFX Standard Task Group and a member of the Plug & Players A-Team. Tim Burke is a member of the IPC-CFX Standard Task Group and Plug & Players A-Team.