Microsoft Corp.'s Chairman and CEO Bill Gates announced the Verid Technology Corp. application as the world's best custom manufacturing application in the 1999 Windows World Open (WWO) at the Spring COMDEX trade show in Chicago. The application was chosen as the winner in the manufacturing category out of several hundred entries overall. The award was presented to Eiji Yoshida of Kobe Steel Ltd., Verid's customer for which the application was developed. Gates announced the winners after his keynote address at COMDEX.
The winning application was a Human-Machine Interface (HMI) and distributed control system for a semiconductor wafer processing cluster tool. The tool, considered one of the more complex in the semiconductor equipment market, required an easy-to-use, intuitive user interface along with interactive graphics that controlled the various hardware mechanisms on the tool. Additionally, the tool required a coordinated scheduling system to control two dual-arm atmosphere and vacuum chamber robots.
Verid was chosen by Kobe Steel because of its experience in developing control system software for complex manufacturing machinery. Verid accepted the challenge to develop a fully NT-based solution in which the various semiconductor processing modules and robot controllers each had a dedicated PC while yet another PC acted as the HMI and SECS host interface. The application was designed for a high degree of functionality and flexibility for future enhancements.
The Verid Technology (Maynard, MA) delivers solutions in tool-side control, cell and line controllers, MES implementation and MES integration into enterprise and engineering systems. According to Verid's President and COO, David Femia, his company's MES application experience in the semiconductor market allowed it to design the application not only to meet the customer's functional requirements, but also to monitor and collect the appropriate data for host-side communication.
"The system was developed entirely in Microsoft's Visual Basic, surprising several judges and many visitors to the exhibit," says Jim Covington, manager of research and development for Verid Technology. "Few people believe that Visual Basic alone can achieve real-time interactive graphics and simultaneous distributed processing. We used several innovative techniques to achieve this solution, including our own tag database ActiveX control which we intend to bring to market soon."