Issue: Mar 2009


Automotive Industries caught up again with Fred Hume, CEO at Data I/O Corporation



by Lenny Case



INTERVIEW - Data I/O Corporation’s ProLINE-RoadRunner XLF was launched in July of 2008 to factor in the automotive industry’s requirement for larger size device applications. The ProLINE-RoadRunner XLF programs Flash memory and microcontroller devices using the company’s latest FlashCORE II programming technology. Data I/O's RoadRunner XLF will be initially available exclusively for Siemens assembly machines.

“Only 100% successfully programmed devices are delivered to the pick-point of the Siemens assembly machine for placement onto the circuit board. The Extra Large Format (XLF) RoadRunner supports device sizes up to 32 mm square and tape widths of 32 mm and 44 mm. In addition, the RoadRunner XLF can be reconfigured to support small to medium sized devices in tape widths of 16 mm and 24 mm. The system is ideally suited for the automotive Lean and Six Sigma environments and provides ‘Just in Time’ programming capability, realizing inventory cost reductions and high quality standards,” says the company.

The Redmond, Washington-based Data I/O, has over 35 years experience in programming solutions for semiconductor devices. Data I/O offers complete, integrated manufacturing solutions in wireless, automotive, programming center, semiconductor, and industrial control market segments for OEM, ODM, EMS and semiconductor companies. The company’s auto business received a major boost this year when it bagged a purchase order from Swedish automotive electronics maker Stoneridge Electronics for Data I/O’s PS288 Automotive Performance Programming Solution.

The PS288 Automotive Performance Solution is a member of Data I/O's FlashCORE family of automated programming solutions and incorporates the recently released Flash Core II programming technology. The new generation FlashCore II extends the breadth of support and performance of the memory and microcontroller devices. The PS288FC meets automotive production requirements for strict configuration and quality control, traceability and yield optimization.

Even earlier in the year, the company had released its Automotive Performance Pak, a bundled suite of PS Series application software targeting critical business needs for automotive suppliers. This came with five modules - PS Remote Monitoring that provides production managers with a direct link to programming activities. Then there is the Label Generator application software, which enables the design and printing of graphic and text labels for reels of pre-programmed devices. FlashCORE Version Control creates an 'archived Job' file containing references to all software components used in initial Job creation. Production managers can reinstate the approved system configuration of any Job including the version of TaskLink, system software, algorithm and data file for full traceability. Enhanced Statistic provides managers the ability to track and monitor process trends that impact quality. Confirm Input Device validates that devices on a new reel of devices match the device type selected in the Job. This is especially critical when multiple versions/vendors of the same device are used and guards against common operator setup errors.

“The new Automotive Performance Pak is an example of Data I/O's commitment to deliver targeted solutions addressing specific application needs. Automotive suppliers may choose to order pre-bundled Automotive Performance Systems new from Data I/O; existing PS288 and PS588 users may order the Automotive Performance Pak Kit and upgrade their current systems,” says the company.

Industry experts predict that by 2010 nearly ninety percent of automotive innovations will be software driven with the number of programmable microcontrollers and Flash memories per vehicle growing rapidly. “The automobile is becoming a very complex electronic system on a grand scale. Every piece of this software must be develop, deployed, and maintained at a very high quality level otherwise the high cost of warranty failures makes the business unprofitable and a product recall could destroy a company. As a result we see many changes in the way electronic systems are designed and specified,” said Fred Hume, chief executive officer, Data I/O Corporation, in an earlier interview to AI. 

Automotive Industries caught up with Fred Hume, CEO at Data I/O Corporation again.

AI: What is your prediction for how your automotive business will grow in the next few years? 

Two years ago, our automotive related business was approximately 15% of our sales. In 2008 it had grown to approximately 25%. In 2010, it could be 40% of our business or more.

AI: What is your company’s strategy vis a vis the automotive industry?
The automotive industry values quality, traceability, configuration control, and lean production. Our strategy has been built around delivering these values to our customers, and is demonstrated in the unique solutions we offer.

AI: What is unique to Data I/O’s approach to the automotive industry’s requirements?
Most automotive customers have some requirements that are unique to that firm, but that fit into a broader umbrella requirement as well. We have worked very hard to provide both generalized solutions that meet the umbrella requirement while providing “special” solutions to the unique needs of each firm.

AI: What are some of the latest developments in automotive electronics that has impacted your business?

In the past, most automotive applications at the control unit level utilized a modest amount of software. As the automotive electronic system has grown in complexity, the software embedded within each microcontroller has grown nearly exponentially. This adds to the programming burden regardless of whether the devices are programmed off-line, in-line, or at test. The increasing software content in the automotive electronics systems will drive the need for our solutions.

AI: What are some of the new technologies your company is working on?

The growth in software has accelerated the use of high-density Flash memory in the automobile. Data I/O is preparing to deliver a new programming solution for Flash, and one that delivers a very important throughput gain for NAND-Flash. Data I/O is also working on a solution to help OEMs ensure their outsourcing partners are building and programming what they want, when they want it, while reducing the potential for leakage of IP.

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