What’s the issue?
Because the topics of product development and sustaining engineering are so detailed and complex, it is often difficult for a client to easily work out what capabilities (design and service) a company has. This article has been written to cover this item for the Electronics Machine.
What are the overall offerings of the Electronics Machine?
The Electronics Machine offers the following design capabilities and services:
- Hardware electronics design: the EM will design electronics (PCB/PCBAs – printed circuit boards) to carry whatever control functions a client wants. Embedded (microcontrollers), sensor management, control systems, high frequency applications, wireless, ethernet, etc., are some examples.
- Firmware design: for firmware read software that is programmed onto chips on a board to make things happen at a very low level. Examples could be:
- lighting and extinguishing LEDs
- controlling or reading sensors (light, pressure, temperature, whatever)
- responding to inputs, e.g., wireless Bluetooth input requiring that current temperature is read and displayed on a screen
- etc., etc..
- Software design: this is high level software with which the public are relatively familiar. A website, an APP, etc. The important thing to note is that the EM is expert in making firmware and software communicate. Perhaps the way to visualise all this is by example: the EM could design electronics to measure your blood pressure and communicate all the way to a website – if that’s what you want!
- Enclosure design: Even though some clients already have it covered, electronics always need to go in some sort of enclosure. The requirements vary greatly from an off the shelf plastic enclosure to a bespoke design with aesthetic appeal, and perhaps technical extras like a need to comply with ATEX (intrinsic safety in hazardous environments).
- Supplementary Services. There is a world of difference between a prototype that satisfies all the requirements above and one that can be sold in volume. Logistics, supply chain quality, design for manufacture, standards compliance (UKCA, CE, FDA, etc.), etc. The EM offers a comprehensive suite of services to allow a product to be taken all the way from a blank sheet of paper to volume manufacture. Obviously, it doesn’t offer all these itself – wide range of competent and professional partners.
What electronics hardware does the EM do?
The EM’s engineering team can deal with hardware electronics of any type (except ASIC design – recommend Silicon Systems). The EM can design assembled, printed circuit boards to cover anything you want – providing it is possible! We will deal with complex filtering, high frequency, control, wireless technologies, specialist sensor management, motor control, etc., etc.. We are also not limited in the types of PCBA – rigid, flexi-rigid, flexible.
Obviously, down at the hardware end, the electronics needs to deal with your real time issues (measuring something). This is usually well within the EM’s gift – highly experienced and scientific team can engage with you about whatever your requirements are.
The EM usually manages manufacture of prototypes for its clients – a lot less hassle. The EM also helps clients configure and engage with manufacturers for volume, but once established, the EM moves out of any volume production relationship.
What firmware does the EM do?
The EM is happy to cover firmware at any level, but if it is more than straightforward control of standard electronics it uses a partner. A couple of examples serve to illustrate this:
- You might want firmware to sequence a few switches and LEDs, sound a buzzer, control some relays, and a straightforward wireless link to an APP. The EM would cover this.
- You might want a mathematically optimised control system that incorporates digital filters and other advanced design techniques. The EM would invoke the skill set offered by 3P1 to cover this.
What software does the EM do?
Clients often want to take the data an electronic devices produces and offer it to the world wide web (Internet of Things – IoT). Or maybe it is just necessary to get the electronics talking to an APP. The website and APP development for such a project would be undertaken by the EM’s partner – 3P1.
What enclosures and product design does the EM cover?
As stated in the introduction, the needs of a given enclosure design can vary enormously, but the EM’s partners cover your requirements (if feasible) whatever they might be. The following examples illustrate this:
- Perhaps you just want a box for some low voltage electronics that are housed inside another assembly such that the electronics is unseen. You don’t have any other particular requirements – don’t care what it looks like. An off the shelf box may suffice – perhaps with a few precisely located holes drilled in it. This might not even need the services of a product designer.
- Perhaps you really care about how it looks because it is a product for retail, but there are no stringent engineering requirements. You would certainly be well advised to consult a product designer in this case because a failure to tune the aesthetics of the device to the market could come at a great cost.
- Perhaps the enclosure has some substantial engineering requirements, e.g., it must not get too hot inside, it needs to allow transmission of radio waves, it must be submerged and not leak, etc. In this case a combination of skills involving different types of engineer are necessary.
What other technical and business development services does the EM off
The EM would be delighted to give you further guidance if you need it – please click CONTACT US and we’ll take it from there.