Issue: Apr 2007


Breakthrough in change management and traceability



“The high demand for drive-by-wire, entertainment, driver assistance, and added safety features is driving a surge in the development of embedded systems”.

by AI Staff

The automotive electronics market is expected to touch USD 35 billion by 2010, driven by factors such as the lower cost of programmable semiconductors and legislation addressing fuel efficiency, child safety, airbags, and environmental/emissions, according to Data I/O.
The corporation recently unveiled its new Automotive Performance Programming System (APPS) at the APEX exhibition in Los Angeles. "For the first time, production managers will have strict configuration control over data file and programming task management. Our key customers in the automotive industry tell us that change management and traceability are critical challenges, and the Automotive Programming System was designed specifically to address those needs," says Megan Miller, automotive segment manager at Data I/O.
The 35-year-old Redmond, US-based Data I/O manufactures semiconductor device handling and programming systems for the automotive electronics, wireless and consumer product industries. Automotive Industries (AI) spoke to Fred Hume, chief executive officer, Data I/O Corporation.
AI: How will your Automotive Performance Programming System impact the market?
Hume: The system grew out of our work with automotive customers such as Lear, Hella, Bosch, Delphi, Visteon, Siemens VDO, and Kostal that were shifting from the use of mask-programmed microcontrollers to programmable microcontrollers and Flash memories. In many of these companies, the design and production engineers were unfamiliar with the issues related to data file management, firmware control, and the creation of secure production processes with programmable devices. The APPS clarifies the process and helps bridge the gap between the NPI (or Advance Manufacturing) teams and the production floor.
AI: What has the reaction been from the automotive industry to the system?
Hume: We expected a good response and we have had it. Features such as SPC job logging, remote monitoring, and serial number labeling, were developed at the request of automotive customers and their programming centers. The APPS solution provides that level of control and traceability, both at NPI and throughout the life of the end product.
AI: What is the difference between the APPS and your other device programming solutions that are aimed at the automotive industry?
Hume: Other offerings address specific needs, but APPS brings them all together in one solution. Data I/O offers the ProLine RoadRunner, that mounts directly on the SMT machine, to provide ‘Just-in-Time’ programming the moment before the device is placed on the circuit board. This eliminates the need for reprogramming when software changes. We also offer ImageWriter that is used to program the devices after they have been placed on the circuit board, and during configuration at the very end of the line. The Automotive Performance Programming System is our complete automotive industry solution for off-line programming.
AI: How do you see the design and development of embedded in-vehicle electronics evolving?
Hume: The software embedded in the microcontrollers in the ECUs will change over time as a result of bug fixes and feature enhancements. We must also have the capability to tailor this software to regional requirements. So, we are entering a new phase in the life cycle management of these systems when we have to support globally disintegrated product development and production while maintaining tight control over software quality and version control.
AI: What are some of the products Data I/O is working on to meet future needs of the automotive electronics market?
Hume: We are developing a solution for one automotive customer that needs to test an ECU and then reprogram the microcontroller with the appropriate calibration corrections without taking the module off the line. In another example, we are developing a customized device serialization program that supports digital rights management in electronic media systems. This application is particularly important to manufacturers of infotainment systems.

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