Questions & Answers

1. About The Hermes Standard

a. What is The Hermes Standard about?

The Hermes Standard offers a non-proprietary, vendor-independent protocol for machine-to-machine (M2M) communication in SMT assembly. Its target is to improve board flow management and traceability through all stations of a SMT line.

Based on TCP/IP and XML The Hermes Standard uses modern communication technology and standardized data formats for M2M communication. Its purpose is to transmit barcode information and board or job related data such as dimensions, board identifiers and product type identifiers together with the board along the machines of different vendors in a SMT line.

b. Who drives development of The Hermes Standard?

The Hermes Standard for vendor independent machine-to-machine communication in SMT assembly has been worked out by an initiative of industry experts, setting the base line for an open, cross-vendor protocol. This initiative of equal members meets on a regular base with the goal to enrich the standard and form a foundation for Industy-4.0 solutions. Each of them can propose and determine amendments for future standardization. The Hermes Standard Initiative is neither a legal nor a commercial subject. There is no profit motive. The representative of the initiative is the elected chair.

c. How are The Hermes Standard Initiative and IPC related to each other?

The Hermes Standard was initiated by The Hermes Standard Initiative as an indepenent activity in order to enable a quick and agile specification process. It was supportde by IPC from the very beginning. In mid 2018 The Hermes Standard has been officially recognized by IPC to the the next generation technology for IPC-SMEMA-9851. The Hermes Standard initiative remains organizationally independent from the IPC body but cooperates closely in order to assure full compatibility and a close fit in particular with the related standard IPC-CFX.

d. Where does the name “Hermes” come from?

Hermes” is the name of an an Olympian god in ancient Greek mythology, a son of Zeus. Hermes is considered a god of transitions and boundaries. He is described as quick and cunning, moving freely between the worlds. He is also portrayed as an emissary and messenger of the gods. (If you want to know more about Hermes, please find it e.g. here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermes

Adopting the name of Hermes for The Hermes Standard is meant to clearly deliver the message (and by that already an “Hermesian task” as such) that The Hermes Standard is a powerful provider of smooth communication between different vendors’ equipment modules.

e. What does the name IPC-HERMES-9852 mean?

The name tag IPC-HERMES-9852 combines both the name The Hermes Standard and its relation to the IPC-SMEMA-9851 standard. Where HERMES is apparently the shortened version of The Hermes Standard, the number 9852 clearly indicates its scope and importance: It is the new generation technology for board flow data management and handover which has so far been covered by “SMEMA” as the only established standard for these application worldwide. However SMEMA will not be “replaced” by The Hermes Standard, as in particular for installed base equipment it will remain operational for quite some more time. In fact, most machines may (and probably will) even support both standards until the market no longer requires a “double opt feature”.

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2. The Hermes Standard for electronics manufacturers

a. What is the benefit of The Hermes Standard (IPC-HERMES-9852) for my factory?

The Hermes Standard helps to optimize your production in many terms. It reduces equipment invest, line length as well as the need for operator interaction with the SMT line.

All of this is achieved by forwarding board related information together with the board along the equipment within a SMT line. With The Hermes Standard maximum one barcode scanner is required in the line. Besides this, the product itself becomes the driver of changes along the SMT line. As example the manual adjustment of conveyor belt widths belongs to the past. Likewise, the information provided with a board can be used to automatically change the program according to the product type.

In addition, The Hermes Standard forms the base for continuous tracing of boards throughout a SMT line. Thereby, it provides the essential backbone of any Industry 4.0 solution and the feature set can be enriched over time.

b. How can I use The Hermes Standard (IPC-HERMES-9852) in my factory?

New equipment can be used along existing “SMEMA only” devices if required. However, the full benefit will only unfold in lines with a majority of machines being already compliant with IPC-HERMES-9852. For respective equipment, please contact your vendor directly. If you want to know if your vendor is already supporting The Hermes Standard, please check out our members list. If you can’t find your preferred supplier in there, please contact the company directly and ask them to join as fast as possible in order to allow you to take advantage as well.

c. Which equipment vendors are already part of The Hermes Standard Initiative?

After just a little more than one year, already over fifty leading equipment suppliers supported  The Hermes Standard Initiative – and further will follow. For the latest list of The Hermes Standard Initiative members and applicants, please refer to our “about” web-page.

d. I have "old" equipment in my lines and would like to add IPC-HERMES-9852 enables machines. Or not all of my suppliers do support The Hermes Standard (yet). Is this a problem?

Running both equipment supporting The Hermes Standard (IPC-HERMES-9852) and equipment not doing so in one line  is possible. However, the full benefit may not unfold because relevant data may have to be recovered again after equipment without The Hermes Standard onboard to leverage the benefits provided by The Hermes Standard.

Any SMT equipment supplier who wants to contribute to the further evolution of The Hermes Standard is welcome to join upcoming meetings of The Hermes Initiative. For suppliers that don´t want to spend the effort to shape the standardization the pure implementation based on the specifications published by the initiative is possible without any license fee to be paid.

e. What is the relation between IPC CFX and The Hermes Standard (IPC_HERMES-9852)? (And what about others, such as Mentor's OML?)

The Hermes Standard (IPC-HERMES-9852) drives the horizontal integration along the SMT line. IPC CFX complements this by providing a powerful standard for connecting vertically from the SMT line to an MES. Combining both in a joint production scenario is easy, practical capability proven, and further integration guaranteed by the close cooperation of the respective standardization bodies.

Still, The Hermes Standard can of course act as standalone solution without the need for vertical integration. Particularly in rather incomplex production environments with just little demand in terms of process data, traceability, process interlocking, etc, this may be the solution of choice for another while. On the long run hower we do expect to see both horizontal and vertical integration in all production systems.

The same applies basically for other “vertical” standards such as OML as well. The availability of both solutions for a whole line however needs to be checked for each piece of equipment.

f. What network infrastructure is required for The Hermes Standard?

As The Hermes Standards relies on TCP/IP for the message exchange between neighboring machines in an SMT line, a corresponding network supporting the connections is required. The connections can either be established via dedicated network cables connecting the corresponding machines, over a specific network for the SMT line, or via the shop floor network. All other kinds of network variants between the machines are possible as well. The amount of network traffic attributed to the exchange of messages for The Hermes Standard is negligible. No negative influences between the communications are to be expected from the additional traffic as long as the existing network is not already overloaded. The connections do not rely on network cables. Instead, Wi-Fi connections can be used, if supported by the communication partners respectively infrastructure.

3. The Hermes Standard for equipment vendors

a. Where can I get the latest version of The Hermes Standard (IPC-HERMES-9852)?

The Hermes Standard specification IPC-HERMES-9852 is available upon release for everyone and for free by download via this website . The documents describing The Hermes Standard and additional support material can be found in the download section of this website as well. Further, the specification is available from an IPC website (please check there for the exact address)

b. How much will The Hermes Standard cost? Who is responsible for warranty issues if I use The Hermes Standard?

The Hermes Standard protocol IPC-HERMES-9852 can be used by any supplier, integrator and manufacturer  with no license fees to be paid. However, The Hermes Standard Initiative will not and cannot accept any liability regarding completeness and correctness of implementations done and offered by any of the members. Any kind of warranty issues or functional guarantees of both single pieces of equipment and the entire line is solely within the responsibility of the specific vendors. The initiative must rejects any kind of liability and warranty claims arising from the use of the specification.

c. Is The Hermes Standard (IPC-HERMES-9852) compatible with classical "SMEMA interfaces" (as defined by IPC-SMEMA-9851)?

The proposed solution allows combining both, The Hermes Standard and SMEMA, in the same line. Therefore every equipment which is ready for The Hermes Standard should continue support for SMEMA. This solution has been chosen in order to bridge the gap until every piece of equipment in the field is capable of communicating based on The Hermes Standard.

d. How to physically connect machines supporting The Hermes Standard?

The Hermes Standard seeks to replace the electrical SMEMA cables via TCP/IP-based network connections, allowing to benefit from the advantages of a message-based protocol. For The Hermes Standard, neighboring machines need to be connected either directly via crossover cables or a network. The connection via a network is the preferred option. The network can be either dedicated to an SMT line or can be shop floor wide. All other kinds of network variants between the machines are possible as well. The amount of network traffic attributed to the exchange of messages for The Hermes Standard is negligible. No negative influences between the communications are to be expected from the additional traffic as long as the existing network is not already overloaded. It is possible to reuse an existing network card inside the machine. If required, the messages belonging to The Hermes Standard can be transferred via a separate network card connected to a dedicated network. The connections do not rely on network cables. Instead, Wi-Fi connections can be used, if supported by the communication partners respectively infrastructure.

4. Active contribution to shape The Hermes Standard

a. How can I become a member of The Hermes Standard Initiative?

The Hermes Standard Initiative is as open as The Hermes Standard itself: The initiative welcomes all equipment suppliers who want to take an active, constructive part in developing The Hermes Standard. To become a member companies just have to participate in the initiative meetings. Invitations for the meetings are sent to all interested equipment suppliers who register themselves on The Hermes Standard website accordingly.

b. What are the rights and obligations of The Hermes Standard Initiative members?

It is expected that all members support the initiative and promote The Hermes Standard. Initiative members can actively shape the development of The Hermes Standard. The future development of the standard is driven via a discussion forum which is part of this website. This forum can only be accessed by members.

The implementation of The Hermes Standard version 1.0 is self-evident for all participants, who want to remain members of The Hermes Standard Initiative. The implementation of the revisions to version 1.0 of The Hermes Standard is also obligatory because these are error corrections. The implementation of higher versions (version 1.1 or 2.0) is not obligatory. Then only the basics functions of The Hermes Standard will be supported in such a case.

c. When does The Hermes Standard Initiative meet?

The initiative meets (at least) once a year to make respective decisions. Invitations are sent to all interested equipment suppliers who register themselves on The Hermes Standard website. Invitations to the initiative meeting are to be sent out by the chair at least 12 weeks in advance to the meeting. Who once actively participated in such a meeting is regarded as an initiative member and can vote to shape the future of The Hermes Standard.

d. How is the decision making process?

Rules can be established or changed on initiative meetings. Proposals are to be made at least 8 weeks prior to the meeting by distribution to all initiative members. Who once actively participated in such a meeting is regarded as an initiative member and can vote to shape the future of The Hermes Standard. There is one vote per company. A majority decision will be taken by the participants present.

e. Is there a representative for The Hermes Standard Initiative?

The Hermes Standard Initiative is represented by a chairperson, nominated and elected by the initiative members for a period of two years. The role is connected to the company the chairperson is representing within The Hermes Standard Initiative. That means: if the chairperson leaves the company or finishes working in that role for any other reason, the company will have to assign a new person to be the chair until the next election.

The current chairperson is Thomas Bliem, representing ASM Assembly Systems. He was elected at the members meeting in November 2017.

f. Can electronics manufacturers become an initiative member?

The Hermes Standard Initiative is an equipment supplier’s collaboration. Access to initiative membership is limited to equipment suppliers only. Electronic manufacturers are welcome to the meetings to discuss individual points. Where appropriate, they are invited by the chairman to the meetings.

g. What is the aim of The Hermes Standard Initiative?

The Hermes Standard Initiative constitutes an open collaboration of equipment suppliers for developing, maintaining, and establishing a common SMT communication standard. The members of the initiative want to articulate common interests and help all market participants offer their customers uniform and efficient Industy-4.0-solutions. The initiative is neither a legal nor a commercial body. In particular, The Hermes Initiative does not have any profit related goals for itself as a as a group of companies. (However, of course each individual company pursuits mid or long term monetary goals by contributing to The Hermes Standard.)

The Hermes Standard Initiative is not and does not claim to be any kind of a legal body or even company. Therefore, it cannot  enter into any contractual obligations as a business entity. When the common interest of having The Hermes Standard established as a global standard, the initiative shall end without any duties left.