In many cases our customers come to us to discuss in confidence a a potential new product design. We can help in outling the basic technical requirements and if required provide a written feasability study. Initial discussions are free of charge. It is often required to manufacture a prototype of the final product. This allows the customer to test functionality as well as being able to use the prototype to show potential customers or investors what a finished product would look like without having to pay for costly tools or stock that may be required for volume production.

Outline design

Many of our projects start with a discussion with the client to identify the basic functions and capabilities required in the final product. This then leads to an outline specification where we can decide on the major functional building blocks required to meet the product design. For example this may be items such as keypand interface, display interface, serial communications, memory storage etc. From this we can then choose a suitable microcontroller or PLC solution. At this point we usually also have some idea of the final mechanical 3D envelope in which the electronics will be housed. The housing may be a simple box, or a complex injection tooled enclosure. If we require a complex custom enclosure then we will work with the CAD designeers to arrive at a basic pcb shape and envelope that we will define the shape of the final circuit board assemblies. Some of our customers already have all this information and may just need a new pdb design or may be looking to upgrade an exisiting design to add additional functionality or utilise more modern low power technology.


PCB design

Building on the outline specification we produce a shematic design of the pcb. The next step is to layout the components on the pcb and track the pcb. Our rules based design software is used to provide a one to one link between the shematic and the pcb. Once the pcb has been designed we produce Gerber data files which can be used by any pcb manufacturer to produce the bare pcb. Over the decades we have built up a working list with numerous pcb manufacturers who we use for this stage of the process. We also offer a pcb design service for customers who may not have the inhouse resources to carry out this stage of the development. We are usually asked to provide a few sample pcbs for prtotoype testing and evaluation.


Software development

The majority of our designs are a combination of hardware and software using microcontrollers or PLCs as the brains of the design. We use a range of microcontrollers from tiny 8 bit dfn microcontrollers up to 32 bit RISC based controllers, and off the shelf PLC hardware and software. We have extensive in house development hardware and software capability for programming and debugging the systems under development. We have sophistacted signal analysis equipment for monitoring serial communications such as I2C, SPI and uart communictaions. This stage of the project can in many cases be the most involved and may take days, weeks or even months if it is a complex project. There are usually several iterations of the origianl design where the customer will be provided with a working prototype for evaluation. Field trials and marketing feedback may be a cause for changes to design and we work closely with the client to provide a final product that is ready for manufacture. This may require several protoype builds and numerous firmware revisions. Over the life of a product it is common that we provide ongoing software revisions and updates to meet changing customer requirements.


PCB board population

As mentioned we often provide pcb design and prototype pcbs for tesing. We have a complete range of board population and build equipment that allows us to produce from one off prototype pcbs to small to medium manufacturing runs. For through hole boards we use standard multi-tip solder stations, precision solder tweezers and infra red reflow heaters. To build surface mount prototype or low volume we have a precision manual pick and place machine, hot air reflow guns and a prototype reflow oven For higher volume production we have a semi automatic solder stencil printer, programmable automated pick and place machine with laser precision component measuring and a mutli zone reflow oven and a high power manual inspection viewer.


Prototype machining

Along with the electronic design and build equipment we also have a cnc machine that we can use to engrave panels and machine casings. For sheet metal and custom injection tooled enclosures we work with a series of quality designers and sub-contractors to provide the final piece of the jigsaw.