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66 SMT Magazine • April 2016 customization, and get solutions faster to the market at a much lower cost. One of our key platforms is our PXI plat- form, a rugged PC-based platform which is highly modular with a large number of differ- ent I/O capabilities, so that modules that can handle signals from DC up to 26.5GHz signals. Many of these I/Os harness the power of our RIO architecture, which, using FPGAs, gives ca- pabilities that can change the personality of the hardware. And that's something unique on the market. These are supported by our LabVIEW graphical system design software environment, which abstracts all these complexities that are normally associated with FPGA technologies. Las Marias: From a test and measurement stand- point, how does NI ensure the robustness of your solutions to accommodate the increasing complex- ity in newer technologies? Kranjc: I look at robustness from two sides: one is from a hardware point of view, and the other is from the software side. From the hardware side, all the products and all the technologies are designed for 24/7 operations. We under- stand fully what the conditions are in those applications, and we put a lot of effort to engi- neer our products and put all measures in place in our manufacturing and final inspection so that products end up at the shelves delivering, I would say, 24/7 operations. When we are talking about complexity, de- vices now—like mobile phones, for instance— contain lots of different applications and functionalities, such as GPS, wireless commu- nications, audio and video. That's the beauty: Simply by changing software, we can easily ac- commodate all these new tools. If there's a new communications standard, it's more or less soft- ware-based. So software has to be designed in a way that is reliable and robust. That's where LabVIEW comes in. Las Marias: In our recent survey about improving process capabilities, one of the key issues pointed out by the respondents is the lack of data acqui- sition with appropriate sensors for data logging over periods of time in an electronics assembly line. What is NI's view on this? Kranjc: When it comes to manufacturing equipment and electronic assembly lines, and as products and applications become more so- phisticated and complex, engineers are faced with the same challenges as many other indus- tries, which is, an explosion in the amount of available data and the need to optimize based on their application and project needs. The trend towards smart, connected devices is driving technology such as processors and FPGAs, wireless connectivity, low-cost sensing, and software. Our goal at NI is to build our plat- form on top of these technologies so that the quarter billion dollars we spend each year on R&D is heavily leveraged. NI provides a common platform to add in- telligence and control to these measurement systems, along with a rich set of I/O for inter- acting with the physical world, embedded com- putation, and open data connectivity, for any sensor or bus type. This allows these systems to be a lot more selective about what data to store, and where to store it, and makes retrieving and analyzing the specific data of interest easy so engineers can focus on the task at hand. Las Marias: One of the big themes from NI is "big analog data." How can NI help improve the man- ufacturing process through big data analysis? Kranjc: It is actually estimated that NI data ac- quisition devices have collected an estimated 22 Exabytes of data over the past few decades. An exabyte is really a large number. To put this into perspective, this is equivalent to the data EnablinG ProcEss innovaTion ThrouGh TEsT and mEasurEmEnT soluTions " many of these i/os harness the power of our rio architecture, which, using fPGas, gives capabilities that can change the personality of the hardware. "

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