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An Integrated Approach to Device Programming
RoadRunner3 slides into the SMT assembly machine's pick point, supplying just-in-time programmed chips.

Human error. It's always lurking there in the shadows, ready to reach in when a library file for a programmable device is selected. Pick the wrong one, and you may end up with a mistake that can cost the company millions of dollars. It has happened, and sadly not just once or twice. Errors of this kind can occur because no link exists between the software repository and the build recipe. Without a link, operators can program thousands of products using the wrong data, an error potentially costing millions of dollars.

Last Minute Changes
A second major challenge occurs when software code changes. If out-of-date code is programmed into thousands of devices, those devices are unusable. Scrapping is prohibitively expensive since devices can cost several dollars and batch sizes are often in the thousands. Returning pre-programmed devices to be unpackaged, erased, reprogrammed, verified, and repackaged can cost double the original programming price per device. Depending on how quickly the company needs the reprogrammed devices, additional fees may be assessed to expedite and transport reprogrammed parts back to the assembly floor.

Inventory Float
Devices programmed offline typically sit in factory inventory awaiting placement on PCBs, adding no value and representing sunk cost. Forecast uncertainties can increase inventory float. An example helps illustrate. If current forecast calls for 500K devices for a product build, blank devices are purchased (at $2 each), and programmed (at $.30 each). If only 350K devices are needed, the manufacturer has 150K unusable programmed devices. If they can be reprogrammed, the manufacturer reprograms 150K parts (at double the original programming cost, or $.60 each) for a total programming cost of $135K ($45K for original programming and $90K for reprogramming ). If the devices can't be reprogrammed, 150K devices are scrapped, costing $345K ($300K for devices and $45K for original programming).

Loss of Intellectual Property
Programmed devices in inventory expose the manufacturer to possible intellectual property (IP) theft because every programmed device contains the critical information to make a product operate. When thousands of programmed devices are in factory inventory, the theft of even a single device can be catastrophic. Storage in a secured area is costly and is no guarantee against theft because security systems can be circumvented. Offshore production in regions where IP protection laws are very loose, further raises the risks of theft.

A new approach to programming places the system in-line for just-in-time operation at the SMT placement machine.

As feature-rich products demand more code, the ability to program as rapidly as possible becomes critical. Programming large files at test is no longer cost-effective, or needs to be complemented by an integrated inline programming solution.

A good inline solution should include a job management utility to create, encrypt, and transfer programming jobs. The job management utility must have the ability to trace information for each device programmed, including the job name, time and date, error information, and algorithm and socket adapter used. All the programming results for a specific job must be easily exported for Manufacturing Execution Software (MES), Statistical Process Control (SPC) or other analysis or archiving software.

After the product is verified, the job management utility must securely transfer jobs to programming systems on the factory floor or across the globe. When the line manager starts the line, the data file is pulled from its network location to the programming system on the line, thus ensuring data content matches the product build recipe. In addition, the job management utility should be able to remotely command the programmer to start, stop, pause, and resume a job. If programmer performance declines, the job management utility should alert management so steps can be taken immediately to address the issue.

Meeting Requirements
When choosing a programming solution, a number of requirements must be adequately addressed:

Floor space. The system should occupy little or no floor space.

Device support/algorithms. System should include a library of algorithms tested to device manufacturer's specifications.

Solution flexibility. The on-line solution should not be SMT machine-specific. The solution is flexible enough to work with a range of SMT platforms.

True analytics. It must provide up-to-date statistics about performance, throughput, yields, failures, and real-time system performance.

Regulatory compliance. The system meets international regulatory compliance requirements.

Distributed manufacturing environment. Once the concept is proven on an NPI line, porting to distributed global manufacturing sites is seamless.

Response speed to code changes. Provides the flexibility to respond immediately to last-minute code changes, both prior to and during product build.

Service response. Supported worldwide, with regional service centers that provide answers in customer's time zone.

Breadth of device support. Supports the latest memory (NAND and eMMC) and complex microcontrollers.

Consumable costs. There are no hidden consumables costs. No additional cost for device support.

Lean Manufacturing. Supports lean manufacturing principles, doing more with less.

Quality/Process Control. Provides traceability to the component level. Can control system remotely.

The industry's most advanced — and only — factory integrated inline programming solution is Data I/O's RoadRunner3 with Factory Integration Software (FIS). This solution is especially well suited for manufacturers with high volume/low mix production environments that program Flash memory and/or Flash microcontroller devices, experience frequent code changes, and require the highest standards of quality control, traceability and IP security. RoadRunner3 addresses the needs of the automotive, wireless, consumer electronics, and industrial controls markets — both OEMs and EMS providers.

The programming solution provides advantages for OEM and EMS manufacturers currently using non-inline programming methods.

  • For those outsourcing, RoadRunner3 saves costs and eliminates delays associated with long supply chains and frequent code changes that create scrap and rework.
  • For those programming at test, RoadRunner3 keeps up with constantly growing file sizes, takes up no floor space, doesn't add to line processing time, requires no customer algorithm development, and eliminates production bottlenecks.
  • For those programming offline, RoadRunner3 saves money by reallocating production resources to other areas and reducing costs associated with floor space, offline capital equipment, shipping, and inventory.

No Floor Space Needed
The RoadRunner3 mounts directly on the SMT machine like a feeder, and requires no additional floor space. All algorithms are written to manufacturers' specifications and thoroughly quality tested prior to release.

The product provides solution flexibility. By using an interface kit, one RoadRunner3 supports major SMT platforms: Fuji, SIPLACE, Panasonic, MYDATA.

Included is a suite of software elements ("Factory Integration Software") to improve process control from design through manufacture. In addition, it meets all international regulatory compliance requirements.

The system works in distributed manufacturing environments; it can be easily replicated in nearly real time in all environments, from NPI to distributed global manufacturing sites.

By providing just-in-time programming, supporting code changes on the fly, it can respond quickly to code changes.

Device Support
The system supports the latest memories and complex

microcontrollers. The company offers the largest suite of NAND bad block management schemes. In addition, there are no hidden consumables costs. One free algorithm and standard adapter are supplied, plus the use of all existing RoadRunner algorithms. The RoadRunner3 provides an inherently lean solution that programs just in time, eliminating waste associated with inventory float and long supply chains, the overhead associated with offline and outsourced programming, and the ever-present danger of IP theft when outsourcing. The system is integrated with factory software to eliminate human errors, making certain that only correctly programmed devices are delivered to the SMT pick point.

The company has worldwide support with service centers in the United States, China and Germany to provide live responses to customer questions.

Contact: Data I/O Corporation 6464 185th Avenue NE, Suite 101, Redmond, WA 98052 800-426-1045 or 425-881-6444 fax: 425-867-6972 Web:

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