SMT007 Magazine

SMT-Mar2016

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62 SMT Magazine • March 2016 out manufacturing, niche engineering needs or a complete engineering and manufacturing process. The team has significant experience in microprocessor and micro-controller hardware and software design, as well as mechanical and circuit board design. There is also strong ex- pertise in in-circuit, functional and Checksum MDA test. This type of business model has a number of advantages for companies outsourcing engi- neering and manufacturing. One big advantage is engineering team stability. While standalone engineering firms often expand and shrink with contract personnel as business volume changes, this type of blended engineering support model level loads a core team that works over a range of projects. Some engineers support EMS-relat- ed activities, while others are involved in exclu- sively in standalone engineering projects. The ability to work with the same engineer- ing team over a period of years can save OEMs product development costs. This was the case with one construction equipment OEM. Their handheld surface finishing unit safety interlock system was being defeated by workers want- ing to operate the machine one-handed. Their internal team had been unable to develop an electromechanical solution and opted to out- source design with their contractor. The con- tractor's team designed an integrated a single plane gyroscope with a small microcontroller that is mounted onto the equipment's horizon- tal frame. This control monitors the horizon- tal rotation of the machine while ignoring the back and forth swinging action during normal operation. If the handle is suddenly released by the operator, the control monitors the accel- eration in rotation and then snubs the engine spark causing the RPM sensitive braking system to activate within a single revolution of the entire machine. During initial prototype test- ing of the control, the unit was unable to meet the stopping requirement due to the gyroscope response time. The team resolved this issue by implementing a pre-emptive snubbing software algorithm. The contractor was also able to provide a manufacturing solution to address the severe environmental conditions in which the ma- chines were operated by assembling the PCBA into a custom potting cup enclosure that is then sealed with an epoxy resin for protection from the physical elements and the extreme temper- ature conditions that are generated by the gas engine. Several years later the customer requested help with a control redesign for the ride-on ver- sion of the equipment. The same engineering team was able to heavily leverage the previous design to save customer significant engineering development costs. Most new product development projects also see economies of scale on PCBs and com- ponents when using a contractor with engi- neering services, since much of the bill of ma- terials may be already in stock for manufactur- ing activities. In the combined engineering and manufacturing model, there is also a smoother project launch as the product development team and manufacturing engineering team in- teract much earlier in the development process than found in projects where engineering and manufacturing are performed by separate com- panies. Most importantly, once the design is fi- nal, the quoted manufacturing cost is accurate and during the design process it is possible to easily calculate the impact of proposed changes on manufacturing costs. An additional benefit is an engineering team co-located with manufacturing opera- tions often has significant expertise in Dfx. For example, in this contractor's model, DFM and DFT are addressed in both the product develop- ment process and again as manufacturing engi- thE aPPEal of a CoMbInEd EngInEErIng and ManufaCturIng SolutIon

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