Leveraging CFX-QPL to Integrate Equipment and Create a Smart Factory


Leveraging IPC-CFX, Koh Young can use AI-powered technology to help manufacturers realize a smart factory. These tools collect factory data on defects, optimization, traceability, and more to improve metrics, increase quality, and lower costs. Yet, successful CFX implementation on the shopfloor requires confidence that equipment has been qualified to IPC-CFX. In this paper, we will explore how Koh Young successfully applies real-time data to improve the production process by converting data into process knowledge using CFX and other software tools. Combined with IPC communication standards, the gates to a smart factory are open to anyone.


The IPC-2591, Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) is an industry-developed open international standard for assembly manufacturing that uses a secure, omni-directional, AMQP v1.0 protocol and JSON data encoding. An equipment vendor, EMS/OEM company or software support provider can use IPC-CFX and Qualified Product Listings (QPL) to enable plug-n-play solutions that simplify and standardize machine-to-machine communication while also facilitating machine-to-business and business-to-machine applications. Koh Young implements IPC-CFX natively on its inspection systems through a proprietary integration tool KSMART Business Rules Management (BRM) and the free and open-source IPC-CFX Software Development Kit (SDK). The IPC-CFX module enabled by Koh Young is officially certified by the IPC CFX Validation and Certification Program, which guarantees the support of essential and advanced topics and messages required for inspection systems. Nevertheless, this is only the first of a series of steps to create a true smart factory.

Based on the application to be implemented via IPC-CFX, EMS/OEM companies will decide on the specific topics, messages, and sections to be collected during the integration process. A meticulous analysis throughout this step will ensure the performance, accuracy, and effectiveness of the data being collected, and ultimately the end application. EMS/OEM companies could potentially opt to collect all topics, messages, and sections available in a CFX-QPL interface and store all this information in a systematic way to create the applications that will shape the digital transformation of manufacturing in the next 5-10 years. However, awareness of the data stored will be key to understanding the potential of comprehensive tools and applications to be developed using the available data.


There are multiple factors that create a smart factory such as automation, connectivity, monitoring, control, and optimization. But regardless of what elements are used to create the necessary conditions, there will be key differentiators that will make a company thrive in the Industry 4.0 transformation and the next revolution. Security, reliability, interoperability, and standardization are concepts that will resonate strongly among companies looking to stay competitive in the digital transformation race, and this is where IPC-CFX will play a fundamental role by leveraging AMQP to ensure that all these conditions are met in a very subtle way.

The Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP) is an open standard for passing business messages between applications or organizations. It connects systems, feeds business processes with the information they need and reliably transmits onward the instructions that achieve their goals. This Publish/Subscribe based protocol, which is broadly used in the banking industry, exposes several features that guarantee the integrity, performance, security, and reliability of the data being propagated across one or multiple endpoints or subscribers in the network by using queuing and compression mechanisms to ensure that manufacturing data reaches its final destination even in high demand or unstable environments where closed-loop and real-time applications will be extensively used, and with optional TLS/SSL encryption to handle sensitive data.

Figure 1. AMQP ArchitectureFigure 1. AMQP Architecture

For companies to succeed in the development of Industry 4.0, and perhaps even beyond as we drive toward manufacturing autonomy, they will need inspection solutions, and inspection partners, which can combine domain expertise in optical inspection (vision and software) with the ability to connect to larger systems and contribute to process improvement utilizing tools such as artificial intelligence.


Currently, Surface Mount Technology (SMT) lines are monitored by two key inspection processes. The first is Solder Paste Inspection (SPI), which reviews the printed circuit board after solder paste has been applied to the pads and before components are placed. The second is Automated Optical Inspection (AOI), which reviews the Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA) after the board has been assembled with components and reflowed or soldered. Now technologists are also using AOI prior to reflow to ensure parts are placed correctly before they are soldered into place. The two processes are complementary in that the first, SPI, ensures expensive components are not placed on a PCB which does not have the right amount of solder paste in the correct locations. The second process, AOI, ensures that those boards that are assembled have good solder joints and all the components are placed and orientated correctly.

Beyond their job of identifying errors and stopping flawed boards from continuing along the line where value is added to bad boards, or worse still, bad boards are shipped, these inspection processes provide the data needed to improve the performance of the entire line. SPI and AOI can both be used to make live line adjustments to improve quality without stopping the line, and to provide data that helps identify the root causes of failures or variances. SPI and AOI use a combination of optics and software to assess the quality of the processes they inspect, and the quality of these two elements along with speed and ease of operation are the real measure of success in the SMT inspection world. Fundamentally, a good inspection solution generates the best possible data in the form of images and measurements and uses that data to identify good or bad boards, as well as information related to process control to improve the performance of the overall line.

Inspection systems will perform a critical role in quality management and process optimization in the next industrial revolution. Accurate and reliable 3D measurement-based data is critical and a key element for a true smart factory. The inspection systems and AI-based learning technologies will focus on generating data that can be converted into process knowledge and actionable information while IPC-CFX will facilitate a secure and reliable environment where this data can be shared throughout the shopfloor to create the next generation of smart factory solutions.

Figure 2. Full 3D Inspection Examples


Earlier in this paper we discussed that companies must be aware of the topics, messages, and sections available in a CFX-QPL interface before rushing into the integration process. But as the digital transformation race continues to accelerate, it becomes harder to keep up with all the changes and options available. Therefore, in this section we will explore the most essential messages that are used in inspection systems to understand what kind of tools and applications can be developed around IPC-CFX.


The UnitsInspected message is sent by a process endpoint when one or more units have been inspected. Includes pass/fail information, as well as a detailed report of the inspection, including the specific measurements and inspections that were made, and defects that were discovered during the process.

This is one of the most important messages available for inspection systems, and which enables and feeds a variety of applications such as closed-loop and analytics modules. Figure 3 illustrates an example of a dashboard that can be created using the extensive data provided in this message including Parts Per Million (PPM), defect rate and yield. Nonetheless, there are no limits as far as what kind of tools and applications can be developed, but it all depends on the scope and necessity of each company or software provider.


The StationStateChanged message is sent by a process endpoint when the production state transitions from one state to another per its state model.

Some of the common applications that can be developed using this message includes remote monitoring systems, production status dashboards, and machine utilization, line efficiency, and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) metrics. Figure 4 shows an example of a general production status dashboard that can be used to check the status of each individual machine and analyze how well each machine is performing across different models and production shifts including unscheduled downtimes.

Yet, the information contained in this message goes beyond simple status information. Advanced solutions can be created by utilizing historic data to create predictive and scheduling algorithms to accurately determine the capacity of production lines and improve efficiency.


The UnitValidation topic is implemented by enterprise information systems (such as an MES or ERP system) capable of validating the production history and status of a production unit, and its readiness for processing. This topic has two consecutive messages: ValidateUnitsRequest and ValidateUnitsResponse, which are sent from and to a process endpoint respectively to validate the identifier of the next production unit. Process endpoints, where configured, should send this request before allowing the next unit to enter the process. Moreover, configuration must be provided to identify the endpoint that implements CFX.InformationSystem.UnitValidation Identification and is responsible to provide the response. The validation types available are UnitRouteValidation, UnitStatusValidation, UnitAndSubStatusValidation, and UnitTraceValidation.

Figure 5 demonstrates the validation of a two panel-up board where one of them is automatically marked as bad- mark or x-out by the inspection system based on the information provided by previous steps. Furthermore, detailed process information and array barcodes can be shared to create interlocking and automation solutions.


There are many different ways to create a smart factory via IPC-CFX, but the key is to understand how far you can go with the available data and create the necessary tools and applications that will help companies succeed in the next industrial revolution and digital transformation. Table 1 summarizes the topics and messages that are critical for inspection systems according to the IPC CFX Validation and Certification Program. Hence, the best advice is to take a few moments to review the information contained in these messages and ask yourself: How do I want the smart factory landscape to look like in the next 5-10 years?


  1. IPC International, Inc. (2021). “About IPC-CFX and Your Path to IPC-CFX Success.” https://www.ipc.org/about- ipc-cfx-and-your-path-ipc-cfx-success.
  2. IPC International, Inc. (2021). “IPC Connected Factory Exchange Reference / Getting Started with the SDK.” https://www.connectedfactoryexchange.com/cfxdemo/sdk.
  3. IPC International, Inc. (2021). “Qualified Product Listings.” https://certification.connectedfactoryexchange.com/certification-directory.
  4. OASIS Open (2021). “AMQP is the Internet Protocol for Business Messaging.” https://www.amqp.org/about/what.
  5. Brent A. Fischthal (2021). “The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to: SMT Inspection.” BR Publishing, Inc.

About Koh Young Technology, Inc.

Established in 2002, Koh Young pioneered the market by launching the first 3D Solder Paste Inspection (SPI) system using a patented dual-projection Moiré technology. Since then, it has become the global leader in 3D measurement- based SPI and Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) equipment for the electronics industry. Based on its True3D™ measurement-based inspection technology, Koh Young has developed innovative solutions for challenges with machined parts, dispensed materials, and semiconductor packages. Through its innovations, Koh Young has thousands of global customers, and has the largest global SPI and AOI market share. By adopting a user-centric R&D focus, it adapts its core competencies to develop innovative solutions for new and existing markets. From the corporate headquarters in Korea to its global sales and support offices in Europe, Asia, and the Americas, Koh Young ensures close contact with the market, and more importantly, its growing customer base. Learn why so many electronics manufacturers trust Koh Young for reliable inspection at kohyoung.com.

For More Information

Koh Young • 1950 Evergreen Blvd., Ste 200, Duluth, GA 30096 • +1 (470) 374.9254 • kohyoungamerica.com Brent A. Fischthal • Senior Marketing Manager, Americas • brent.fishchthal@kohyoung.com • +1 (704) 651.2860