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The continued growth and expansion of Industry 4.0 and other smart-factory solutions has revolutionized manufacturing, and it promises to continue to improve safety, reliability, productivity, efficiency, functionality and performance. Deploying Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) systems is a challenging task for the designer, as each customer has different needs for IoT systems to serve their goals.
An optimized and custom IoT solution cannot be mass-produced as a finished system. Rather, it must, by definition, be made up of individually configured subsystems and components specifically for the desired application. The development of a tailored solution for each customer can take months to develop. A smart factory setup is a concert of independently organized instruments, all working seamlessly together, sensors, logic and power, and every factor must be considered. That means any system created will be difficult to remonetize by selling to another customer.
Using LSI for a tailored Industrial IoT setup
When considering the challenges for semiconductor equipment manufacturers, we looked to THine’s customers as examples of equipment manufacturers that are addressing these challenges using common-base systems leveraging LSI as the hub for the facility’s sensors to create an optimized Industrial IoT solution. Such a scalable and modular approach can both fulfill the needs of a tailored system and escape the time and cost of custom development.
In the case of semiconductor production equipment manufacturing, the companies involved develop and provide equipment to TSMC and similar companies. Such manufacturing processes use similar equipment. However, it is difficult to standardize the sensors, actuators, or control protocol, as every manufacturer has differences in their processes and procedures. The functional parts used, and what kind of inputs and outputs are required for the related Industrial IoT infrastructures, and the input and output required for the actual manufacturing lines differ from customer to customer.
This need for a tailored solution leads many to develop custom systems with specialized electronic circuits that could take months to create according to each customer’s specifications.
On the other hand, using LSI as the hub for the sensors required makes it possible to develop a tailored solution without the need to design complicated custom electronic circuits. Using LSI enables semiconductor manufacturing equipment to be made from a single common-base scalable system.
Common-base systems for Industrial IoT
Such beneficiaries of common-base systems include the vendors of smart robots for logistics warehouses, AGVs for factories, intelligent vending machines, advanced measuring instruments, analyzers and inspection equipment, as well as those making manufacturing equipment have similar issues and challenges. By using LSI as the hub for sensors in the common areas on print circuit boards (PCB), companies can drastically improve productivity, making it possible to standardize product development regardless of their customers’ different requirements.
Today, LSI users can create a variety of optimized IoT solutions that leverage a common-base system, with the ability to alter the data path simply by changing the LSI-internal register settings for the sensors, actuators, and controlling signals based on their customers’ needs. This ability to use LSI as the hub for sensors didn’t exist until the recently commercialized THCS253/THCS254 by THine, which offers users significant flexibility and functionality.
For example, by using the THCS253, users can configure up to 32 inputs and outputs for sensors and control signals for each pin of the LSI, just by changing the LSI-internal register setting. LSI users can easily and flexibly update or enhance their systems without added signal lines or complexity. A common-base system can bring significant value to IoT system vendors when it comes to important factors like cost, which impacts important subassemblies, determines product size, verifies quality and guarantees system reliability. For example, THCS253 can serialize 32 lines of sensor signals with asynchronous and different speeds into two differential pairs. This can significantly reduce the number of cables by up to 88%.
Going forward, IoT systems will continue to evolve as advanced artificial intelligence is more adopted and deeply implemented by society and industry. Using LSI as the hub for sensors will evolve alongside it, addressing these developing and advancing social requirements.