It sounds like a new Frederick Forsyth thriller, so fans might be slightly disappointed to find the Hermes protocol actually provides a new standard for surface mount (SMT) equipment communications. To call it thrilling might be an exaggeration, but there’s definitely some very interesting stuff going on for those of us in the electronics manufacturing world.
This article from Dataweek provides a very neat summary. Hermes is replacing SMEMA, which has been around for more than 20 years. Using modern cables and data formats, it allows data sharing across SMT machines. Amongst the many benefits, it means not having to scan the same barcode at every machine or process point.
Far from the subterfuge of Federick’s world, Hermes is an open protocol encouraging rapid and widespread adoption. Although relatively new, it is already being implemented by a large number of manufacturers, so might soon be become a ‘must have’ when specifying new equipment.
Based on TCP/IP and XML, Hermes provides flexible data structures to seamlessly exchange all essential types of board-related data such as dimensions and different ID types. Keeping track of every board being assembled is therefore possible without the need for repeatedly reading barcodes or other ID tags again at each machine. The standard can be adopted by any equipment manufacturer without any licence fee, and already counts nearly 30 vendors among its members, with around a dozen more having committed to join at the next meeting.