Swiss Technology Award 2007: Smallest Format Factory from CSEM based on QNX Neutrino RTOS

HANOVER, March 29, 2007 -These days, when it comes to electronics production, small is beautiful. Numerous products, such as mobile phones and digital cameras, face increasing production challenges as they move towards mini formats. Swiss CSEM, a private research center for electronics and microtechnology, recognized the problem and developed the “Smallest Format Factory,” which has won the Swiss Technology Award 2007. This mini factory is comprised of several robot modules operated by the QNX® Neutrino® realtime operating system from QNX Software Systems. QNX Neutrino runs on PC/104 computers, which provide integrated control of the individual robot modules.

The CSEM realized the project in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences/HTI in Biel within two and a half years, using a team of four engineers and technical scientists. During the development stages, the team went through several iterations of the robot design, aiming at three cycles per minute and a precision of five micrometers for micro components. The QNX Neutrino RTOS, with its small footprint and ability to perform critical operations in a few millionths of a second (microseconds), satisfied the demanding requirements of the project.

“With QNX Neutrino we chose the right operating system. Its high reliability and its realtime capabilities make it a strong partner in microtechnologies,” says Dr. Marcel Honegger, project leader robotics at CSEM. “Robot-controlled assembling processes work fast and most accurately. To realize this idea in a mini format was a challenge for us and is now generating great interest.” “We are proud to share in the accomplishments of CSEM in winning this award. Once again the QNX Neutrino RTOS has proven itself in an extreme application,” says Norbert Struck, managing director, Central Europe at QNX Software Systems. “High speed and high precision in very small space are often a challenge for any operating system, but QNX Neutrino was designed from the beginning to support these capabilities while offering unsurpassed reliability.”

To present complete production lines in the “Smallest Format Factory,“ the CSEM team combined several robot modules that measure 12 x 12 x 20 centimeters each. The robot modules each contain a component transfer system and a feeder mechanism as well as different devices for the production process, such as a glue-dispensing system.

About CSEM
CSEM, Centre Suisse d’ Electronique et de Microtechnique (Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology), founded in 1984 is a private research and development centre, which has specialized in microtechnology, nanotechnology, microelectronics, system engineering and communications technologies. It offers its customers and industry partners tailor-made innovative solutions based on its technological expertise from applied research. Furthermore, in founding start-ups, it actively contributes to developing Switzerland as an industrial location. To date, a total of 23 such new enterprises have been launched by CSEM. Approximately 300 highly qualified and specialized employees from various scientific and technical disciplines work for CSEM in Neuchâtel and the two regional centers in Zurich and Alpnach. They represent more than 20 nationalities and constitute the basis of the company’s creativity, dynamism and innovation potential.

About QNX Software Systems
QNX Software Systems, a Harman International company (NYSE: HAR), is the industry leader in realtime, embedded OS technology. The component-based architectures of the QNX® Neutrino® RTOS and QNX Momentics® development suite together provide the industry’s most reliable and scalable framework for building innovative, high-performance embedded systems. Global leaders such as Cisco, DaimlerChrysler, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, and Siemens depend on QNX technology for network routers, medical instruments, vehicle telematics units, security and defense systems, industrial robotics, and other mission- or life-critical applications. Founded in 1980, QNX Software Systems is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, and distributes products in over 100 countries worldwide. Visit

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QNX Software Systems
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