Boise, Idaho-based Diversified Fluid Solutions (DFS) is a semiconductor industry leader that manufactures high purity gas and chemical blending and distribution equipment. They chose to enter the global gas market with a flagship product that introduced industry-first automation and control standards for gas system delivery. DFS used a high-performance PLC/ HMI and the Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) Portal to create a gas delivery system that has 100 percent visibility of all operational parameters and automated pressure control.
Manufacturers that offer high purity gases have historically provided gas delivery equipment to the semiconductor industry. In fact, many gas delivery systems in use are legacy, off-the-shelf products that have been in service for decades. As demand for specialty gases has grown dramatically within the semiconductor industry, the time has arrived for gas delivery systems to evolve and keep pace with technological innovation. Diversified Fluid Systems (DFS) saw this gap as an opportunity.
DFS recognized that legacy gas distributions were neither open nor flexible, and offered limited external connectivity for monitoring and manual pressure control. Partnering with Siemens, the company used its expertise and ingenuity to develop a modern gas system that set new industry standards for connectivity, flexible networking platforms, and automated pressure control.
Meeting the Challenge
DFS had two objectives in building a new gas delivery product for the semiconductor market: diversify its offerings and help the market transform legacy and proprietary gas delivery systems. The challenge was to transcend old system technology with an open network, connectivity, and automated pressure control with a footprint that would fit within existing gas cabinets.
“When we set out on this mission to diversify our offerings, our long-held core competency was in chemical delivery and blending system manufacturing,” says Darren Willey, president of Diversified Fluid Solutions. “With our expertise and skill sets in this market, we believed it was smart business and good for the semiconductor market for DFS to build in-house capabilities and capacity to serve the gas market.”
The challenge from day one was to design and build a better gas delivery system, from electrical designs to specifications to all the components. Then DFS had to define the operation of the gas cabinet: how the system would operate within the parameters of what the industry is used to seeing, and how a new system could be retrofitted into existing physical cabinets (which were very small and compact).
Seven points defined the challenges and scope of the high purity gas delivery system project:
- Ramp up internal capacity and programming expertise to serve the gas market.
- Include an open, state-of-the-art PLC and HMI panel suitable for the global market.
- Retrofit it within existing, compact physical cabinets (form factor was critical).
- Fully automate pressure control, operational sequences, and networkability.
- Give end users 100 percent visibility of all operational parameters.
- Allow users to control interface and monitor all aspects of cabinet operation.
- Deliver a game-changing system that looks as good as it operates.
The Solution—and an Industry First
In developing its flagship product for the gas market, DFS wanted to add fully automated pressure control, something not offered in the industry’s existing manual process. “We found a way to automate the pressure control function of our new gas delivery system through the use of Siemens PLC complex algorithms and new pressure control regulators using our chemical pressure control technology repurposed for the gas world,” notes Kelly McDonald, senior gas technologist at DFS.
Moreover, although automated high purity gas cabinets already existed, the system conceived by DFS presented an industry-first platform. The new system would replace closed, proprietary ones with a fully networkable control system, connectivity, and automated gas feed pressure control—all within existing cabinetry.
Siemens was chosen for its newest SIMATIC PLC technology, especially its Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) architecture and the TIA Portal, an integrated engineering framework for automation tasks. To accommodate size constraints of existing control cabinets, DFS selected the compact design of the Siemens SIMATIC ET 200SP S7-1510 CPU to deliver efficient engineering and maximum power with a small footprint. The integrated systems would enable automated pressure control for gas delivery by generating automated feeds and responsiveness that did not previously exist in the industry.
Use of SIMATIC HMI Comfort Panels allowed for machine-level visualization across the entire engineering and software spectrum. Since remote access and data logging were also critical requirements, DFS used the SIMATIC Sm@rtServer in the configuration. Through integration with the Comfort Panels, the Sm@rtServer gives operators the ability to access and control the system from any location via the internet or intranet and also allows them to gather data logs.
Total Integration with a Common Database
All automation was configured using the Siemens TIA Portal for unrestricted access to all solutions in a single framework with shared data storage. Leveraging the power of the TIA Portal was important to DFS to allow the company to develop engineering standards utilizing the TIA Portal Global Library concept, as well as quickly deploy a variety of functionality that could be customized for unique customer requirements. “This advanced platform positions us and our clients for up to 30 years with the latest scalable technology and the most functionality for a gas delivery system that has been closed in the past. It’s all about improving process efficiencies,” says Willey.
DFS’ choice was also based on Siemens experience, consulting guidance, pricing, and support. Price points were extremely good, and the service Siemens is known for was an important factor. According to Willey, Siemens support has been “phenomenal.” Siemens provided all automation products within the control cabinet, and helped develop the application to leverage the full benefits of TIA Portal. DFS installed and performed the integration of the components.
Exceptional Results, Powerful Benefits
The ACvFLO Gas Cabinet from Diversified Fluid Solutions was introduced to the market at SEMICON West 2016. The system delivers on its promise of connectivity and networkability, automated pressure control, and state-of-the-art operational sequences, allowing end users to control, interface, and monitor all aspects of the cabinet operation.
The system, recommended for a range of gases, including toxics, corrosives, oxidizers, inert and flammables, is defining the new standard in high purity gas cabinet technology. It is available in multiple configurations to meet unique requirements, including a two-cylinder auto-switchover configuration, a two-cylinder independent outlet for compatible gases, and a three-cylinder auto-switchover with an on-board purge cylinder.
Among the benefits the new solution delivers:
- Form factor and density. The size, shape, functionality, and connectivity of the SIMATIC ET 200SP S7-1510 controller allow I/O and the processor to fit in a small cabinet and perform seamlessly integrated operations.
- HMI connectivity. SIMATIC HMI Comfort Panels and functionality allow end users to remotely access all parameters within the gas delivery control system.
- Continuous flow. The system provides a continuous gas flow to process production tools with minimal technician intervention.
- Automated pressure. The system automatically controls supply point pressure without the use of manual regulators or additional adjustments.
- Psig improvement. Automated gas delivery pressure control and auto crossovers benefit from real-time regulator adjustments to help minimize pressure fluctuations.
- Reduced technician interface. Technician interface with the system has been reduced by 30 percent through automated pressure control technology.
- Improved safety. An operator no longer has to open the cabinet to make manual pressure adjustments because the system does it automatically.
- Better process control. Controls are constant, reducing the need for process changes and reaction to issues.
Willey added the final and definitive word about his company’s selection of Siemens to partner with in this project: “While we spoke with several automation providers, Siemens is a reputable brand in the gas world and has a big stake in global acceptance. We wanted to put out a product that would meet our requirements and those of our customers, but also be widely accepted. We knew Siemens was going to provide that platform.”Have an Inquiry for Siemens about this article? Click Here >>