When it comes to the development of custom hardware, there are simply no shortcuts. Attention to detail is incredibly important because once a piece of hardware is sent to production; there are very few changes that can be made after the fact. Unlike software developed for mobile and desktop platforms, updating the firmware for hardware usually requires users to play an active, physical role in the process, and can sometimes result in a catastrophic failure. Essentially, before production, a product needs to undergo extensive testing for functionality, usability, and reliability, and any defects corrected.
Knowing how important it is to “get it right” before manufacturing, we have developed processes to reduce the possibility of errors and improve the overall quality of hardware development.
PCB Layout/Mechanical Design
This is the process of defining exactly what your hardware will do. We gather as much information as possible – Who are the end users? Are their any similar products or products that use similar technologies currently available? What are the budgetary requirements? And more… We use this information to create a product outline that clearly defines what your hardware is and how it will be used.
We break your product down into it’s core features and assess the level of complexity and risk associated with each feature. We then build proof-of-concept models to understand if the idea is technically feasible. We use this opportunity to explore solutions to challenges we may encounter, and collect valuable information for deliberate planning.
We use the data gathered from the Feasibility Study to compile a report outlining potential roadblocks, a high-level estimated cost per unit, and the likelihood of success. We discuss the risks involved, how to manage those risks, and we work together to refine the product and the project plan.
Our team works to design circuits and develop firmware together, and where possible we create computer simulations to test circuits before prototyping. Firmware development is started early on, and continues through the Prototyping phase, to shorten the overall project time, and yield better quality through collaboration.
After the electronics are designed, and based on your specifications, we layout the PCB and design the hardware enclosures. Because the enclosure dimensions are an extremely important consideration, we take great care in the PCB layout and component selection process. We understand that this step literally shapes your product.
Once the mechanical designs and PCB layout are complete, we present 3 dimensional models of your hardware with PCB artwork, and component lists. We review any changes in the initial cost estimates, discuss risks, and reassess the plan moving forward.
Before prototypes are built, we design test procedures to test every circuit and every component. If a prototype fails any test, in any way, we investigate the root cause and take appropriate action to correct the issue. If changes are made to a prototype, all test procedures are repeated; not just the tests that failed previously. We continue refining prototypes until we have a production ready unit, that passes all testing; including usability and reliability tests.
Once a prototype has passed quality testing, we compile a report outlining any changes that were made during the Prototyping/Testing phase, and provide detailed documentation of all test procedures, and their final results. We provide technical documents for any required regulatory testing, and for the creation of end user documentation. We consolidate all materials (including previous reviews), and submit the full process document for production approval.
We will work with manufacturers to answer technical questions and help with any issues found before and during manufacturing. During production, we will quality check selected units using the test procedures created during the Prototyping/Testing phase, to reduce the likelihood of defects during manufacturing.