Boston—Optimal+, known for its test-data-analysis software used in semiconductor manufacturing, has joined the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC). EE Times spoke with Optimal+ VP of Worldwide Marketing David Park about how the company fits into the organization and how it can help consortium members.
The IIoT Consortium was started by companies such as Bosch, GE, IBM, and Intel to develop standards, test beds, and procedures for the "smart factory." An IIoT Consortium white paper describes the organization's goals: to use data and connected devices to prevent and minimize downtime, eliminate waste and defects, minimize surplus production, and optimize machine behavior using cloud computing.
Why would a software company join a consortium of manufacturing companies? "Although we are a software company," said Park, "it's a great fit. We can combine process data with test data from semiconductors, boards, and systems." The figure describes "The Voice of the Machine" as machine or process data such as lot number, temperature, or operator. Manufacturers use that data with the goal of reducing cost of goods sold. If you combine that with test and performance data on the end product, you can use the two datasets to locate areas that need improvement. "We take data from all aspects of the supply chain and analyze it to look for anything that can impact quality," said Park.
Software can combine data from manufacturing processes with test results to optimize quality and reduce costs. Image courtesy of Optimal+. (Click image to enlarge)
Park provided an example of how test and process data can be combined to find the root cause of a problem. Should final-test data reveal failures, combining that data with process data such as oven temperature can reveal the cause. In one instance, a reflow oven wasn't hot enough to produce proper solder flow. Having these kind of data can help engineers identify problems without the need to apply failure-analysis techniques. "Peeling the data apart and asking the right questions can lead to solutions," he said.
Optimal+ will send people to the IIoT Consortium's Industrial Internet Innovation Forum taking place on March 23 in Reston, Virginia. The company will look at test beds and work with the organization's working groups to see where the company can support the consortium's efforts.
—Martin Rowe covers test and measurement for EE Times and EDN. Contact him at email@example.com