eDiagnostic digital mass flow controller monitoring system

The importance of preventative maintenance for production equipment in semiconductor device manufacturing plants is widely acknowledged. In fact, preventative maintenance is considered a critical factor for increasing productivity. HORIBA STEC offers a preventative maintenance system for its mass flow controllers, which are considered key devices in the semiconductor manufacturing process. The mass flow controller’s preventative maintenance system monitors the flow rate control conditions and the position of the valve, and determines the status of overall flow rate control in the mass flow controller. The system informs the user of what sort of maintenance is required before the mass flow controller becomes unable to control the flow rate. It is considered difficult to predict the maintenance required for a mass flow controller’s functioning by monitoring its flow control status alone.
HORIBA STEC’s mass flow controller monitoring system collects information on the control status of the digital mass flow controllers (analog control) in semiconductor manufacturing equipment using digital communications, and monitors whether or not there is a need for any preventative maintenance. This system is compatible with LAN (TCP/IP) networks, and a single superior Surveillance Server can be used to monitor the mass flow controllers in each semiconductor manufacturing system. It’s also relatively easy to create a wide area network for this monitoring system. The logging unit can be used to log the flow rate control status of digital mass flow controller in each semiconductor manufacturing system. The Surveillance Server is connected to the logging unit through a LAN. The logging unit monitors the flow rate control conditions and the position of the flow control valve, and determines whether any preventative maintenance is necessary. This data can be used to investigate the reasons for problems or to review changes in the gas pressure, in addition to determining whether or not preventative maintenance is required.

Sample system setup

Sample system setup

Digital mass flow controller monitoring software; compatible with RS-485 and DeviceNet™ communication

HORIBA STEC also offers monitoring software that is compatible with HORIBA STEC’s digital mass flow controller protocol (F-Net protocol) and is able to monitor all mass flow controller related transmissions. This software makes it easy to check the status of transmissions between control units such as the PLC or PC and the SEC-Z500X series units. In addition to checking if the digital transmission cable and signal converter are installed correctly, it can use the digital mass flow controller’s address transmissions to monitor and control installation information and valve operating status. When DeviceNet™ transmission is used, the software operates using digital transmission information only. In fact, with DeviceNet™, it is possible to monitor the control status of the digital mass flow controller using just this software, a PC, and the DeviceNet™ transmission unit; there is no need for a special, additional control unit mounted on the equipment.

Easy-to-use digital mass flow controller monitoring software

The digital mass flow controller monitoring system uses eDiagnostic monitoring software.
The mass flow controller’s control status is monitored through digital transmissions, and then logged and saved in a PC. The eDiagnostic software also features a function that outputs alarms as necessary based on the monitored flow rate control status and valve aperture information. Real-time monitoring makes it possible to go back and review the circumstances surrounding changes in the control status and gas supply conditions. The monitoring information is also extremely useful in investigating the causes of any malfunctions that arise.

Digital mass flow controller control software

HORIBA STEC also offers control software that is compatible with HORIBA STEC’s digital mass flow controller protocol (F-Net protocol).  In addition to offering digital mass flow controller flow rate control (step control, loop control functions, etc.), it is also designed to output the aperture control signal for valves mounted on the same gas line. Thanks to these features, this software offers optimal small-scale gas supply system control.