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Industrial Automation

High Density Input/Output Interface Modules

Picture of final HDIO Interface Module. Click to view larger image.

AltaStream Control Systems - Delta, BC

Client's Request:
To design, prototype, and manufacture HDIO (high density input/output) interface modules for factory automation in the semiconductor industry.

KLN's Contribution:
Conceptual solution, followed later by electro-mechanical engineering, manufacturing, and pre-testing of 10 HDIO interface modules.

Background and Outcome:
Highly sophisticated and reliable Allen-Bradley FLEX™ I/O interface modules from Rockwell Automation, used widely in factory automation, come usually equipped with DIN type connectors and screw terminals. These two type of interfaces, however, are suboptimal in certain semiconductor factory environments, as they are not easy and fast to install. Therefore, AltaStream aimed to provide a solution that addressed specific needs in the wafer manufacturing industry through the creation of a special HDIO interface module. This module would include the use of different interface connectors that would be congruent with the wire harnesses used in this industry.

AltaStream initially contacted KLN requesting a conceptual solution and a mockup of this envisioned HDIO interface module in order to present it a week later at an industrial trade show. The requirements for the mockup included: connectors placed in a certain position with very small footprint, addressing a given aspect ratio to fit into strategic places of existing equipment; convenient access to the Allen-Bradley modules to allow for quick exchange while preventing their possible misinstallation in a wrong socket; good view of the status indicators of the I/O modules through a top window; and a rigid construction to support the demanding industrial environment in which the HDIO interface modules were supposed to work.

In a collaborative effort with the client, KLN provided, within five working days, a conceptual solution and a mockup (see pictures below) that addressed all the above mentioned demands. This allowed Altastream's prospects to see and feel the product, and to give input into their envisioned ideal solution.

Picture of Parts of the HDIO Interface Module Mockup. Click to view larger image. Picture of the Completed HDIO Interface Module Mockup. Click to view larger image.

AltaStream's strategy proved successful, as it led to receiving an order for ten High Density I/O interface modules. With the revised specifications for the final product, AltaStream contracted KLN to fully design the new HDIO interface module and to build ten units (see top picture). Within two months KLN did the enclosure design, interconnect schematics, circuit board design and layout, and completed the electronic and mechanical manufacturing of 10 HDIO interface modules, including PCB assembly, wiring, sheet metal fabrication, surface finishing, final assembly and testing. The units were shipped to AltaStream's customer and worked flawlessly.

Picture of the HDIO PCB Production. Click to view larger image.

Since the initial design and first batch, many batches of these HDIO systems have been produced by KLN for Altastream.

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