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13th October 2021

12 quick ways to get design help from Ignys

This is an article devoted to you if you want to move your projects along fast. Looking at all the ways we help across short times scales (relative to our long-term product development services). 

Here’s a round up of 12 ways we can quickly add value to your project: 

1. Targeted Design reviews 

We can look at specific parts of your project with a small, focused design review. 

For example, we can carry out a software review, PCB design review, hardware review or look at a specific component or part on the printed circuit board.  

Why might you need a partial design review? 

There are a number of reasons our clients come to us for design reviews and here are some of the problems you could address with a targeted or partial design review. 

Check electronics design work fast 

If you struggle to find time to check your work, it’s useful to get some help from an electronics design partner. This time constraint can happen regardless of how big your development team is. If your in-house resources are stretched, or the volume of the projects you are taking on are high, perhaps due to a new lucrative project deal, peer reviews may be difficult to schedule. You don’t want to risk a drop in quality.  

Getting hardware and software support is often a cost-effective way to move things forward. 

You need to borrow an engineer 

You need a new design partner 

It is a volatile world out there currently. This means your business partners could go out of business or start new ventures of their own. 

If your projects have been pushed to the back of their queue, or you just can’t reach them then maybe it’s time to look for a new electronics design partner. 

If you have partially completed designs and you need help from a technical standpoint then get talking to some electronics design and software companies, like Ignys. The best way to see if we are right for you is to book a discovery meeting. 

Book a meeting

Related Blog: How to choose a design partner 

How to reduce product unit costs quickly 

Small design reviews focused on one area can often result in quick wins.  

For example, a PCB design review can help you as a cost reduction exercise.  

Are you using redundant parts for a feature that was never used?  

For example, has a Wi-Fi chip been added for potential connectivity, but the final product isn’t using it, then this is adding to your Bill of Materials (BOM) and overall costs unnecessarily.  

These design reviews may recommend further in-depth changes which offer long term solutions or require a redesign.  

For example, if 80% of your product’s components are on one side if the PCB, it may be worth exploring if the remaining 20% could be moved onto that side too. Value engineering is useful for this.

Doing a quick redesign such as this one could result in reduced manufacturing costs. This is because each PCB doesn’t have to go through the process twice and there is less complexity and room for manufacturing error. The difference here will be even more significant at volume. 

Related article: Quick read – 7 ways to reduce product unit costs 

Complete Design Reviews 

If you want clarity on how well your product development project is going overall, we can carry out a full design review for your product. This looks at the manufacturing pack containing Gerber Files, schematics, the actual PCB design files and the Bill of Materials (BOM). 

Related article: How to conduct a design review successfully 

2. Design For Availability (DFA) 

There is currently a worldwide shortage of semiconductor chips which is causing huge supply and demand problems. A BOM (Bill Of Materials) will look at components and help you navigate through this unprecedented situation. 

There are two focuses for a BOM review, and we’ll start with the most pressing concern in the current market. 

Related article: The Chip shortage and how to tackle it for product success 

Avoiding obsolescence or component shortages 

We can help you avoid parts marked NRND (Not recommended for New Designs). This marking indicates that the part is not likely to be around much longer and is not the optimum choice for you. If you are using that component you need to look at alternatives quickly. Checking for NRND parts is a due diligence process which we can do for you or teach you. 

The current chip shortage is leading to panic buying or resellers hoarding parts. Therefore ,it’s a good idea to choose components that can be sourced from multiple suppliers. Where possible it is worth investing upfront in parts to prevent problems later. We can help you assess which parts are most likely to be needed for your end design so you can plan accordingly. 

Design For Availability for products already on the market 

If your product is already on the market and you need a redesign, we can help you integrate more innovative technology such as wireless communication or IoT. We can help you swap out parts which are likely to go obsolete. If you can’t source the same part you used before, you could be left with a gap in supply and see a drop in sales as a result.  

In the current climate this could mean ending up at the back of a very long queue for new parts so it is best to plan well in advance. 

Another option is to look at more pricey components that are not in such short supply. 

 However, if the cost of components is a concern we can help here too. Here are some examples where you could be paying more than you need to.  

Looking at cost alternatives 

If you went for a first mover advantage tactic for your product when you first launched it’s likely you tactically opted for more expensive components or used a higher spec than you needed.  

This time around you may want to look more carefully at the costs which will help you retain more profit. This is useful as you scale up in terms of volume or to keep costs down as you create a premium or enhanced version. 

It may also be that when you chose your manufacturing and supply chain partners there was a handling or procurement fee added. There may be alternatives that you can source. For example, at Ignys we work with several CEMs who we check carefully beforehand. This allows us to provide impartial advice if you are sourcing a new supplier focused on helping you find the right manufacturing partner. 

Keeping an eye on component market trends 

Another thing to watch is the effect of big players in the tech market such as smart phone companies. If, for example, a new iPhone launches with a new component this can lead to two events: 

1) The big players can buy up the entire world stock of certain parts, either because they are selling in such huge volume or because it becomes the next big thing to have in the hardware of your product and every product developer wants it. 

2) They stop using a part that you use. Chances are even if you are a reasonable sized SME you probably won’t be responsible for enough of the global demand to keep a component market afloat. As a result, it may be that manufacturers stop making your component due to an overall lack of demand which can put you in a tricky situation. 

3. Proof of concept 

Feasibility studies and proof of concept help you assess a project from the outset. Spending a bit of money upfront makes sure it is technically and commercially viable and allows you to take stock before you talk to investors. 

How to get the most out of feasibilities studies

4. Borrow an engineer 

As mentioned earlier if you are part of a team you may need extra support. For example you may: 

  • Have a small electrical engineering department at capacity  
  • Find your larger team’s time is taken up by R&D or legacy products.  
  • Realise you are missing vital technical knowledge about a next generation style product and need advice. 
  • Not have electronics design and software expertise in-house. 

Some of the ways you can borrow an engineer are: 

  • For help with ‘Frankenstein’ prototypes 
  • Python coding on a raspberry pi module 
  • Low power design 
  • Proof of concept 
  • You need DFM (Design For Manufacture) to get over the line. 

Chat to us about your situation and discuss ways we can help your team directly. 

5. Product testing 

If you have failed compliance at a test house we can have a look at that report, understand what is required and then work out a way of fixing it. This could be EMC (Electromagnetic Compatibility), RED (Radio Equipment Directive) etc. We can support with this. 

6. Environmental testing 

One of our services that excites people the most is our environmental testing chambers. Many of our clients have difficulty finding facilities to test their products for hot, cold and humid conditions. You can hire days in our testing chambers to test your products. This can be with or without engineering time. 

Subject to availability we can often fit you in quite quickly. These chambers are also great for checking for compliance and making sure products can face harsh conditions. 

7. Power consumption 

We are really good at getting more power out of something. We do this through a number of power consumption reduction techniques 

8. Development kits 

We work with module based development kits like Raspberry pi, Arduino, Python.  

We can also help if you have an off-the-shelf development kit where you have got it working roughly but you need some support with it. We can help you understand how to develop it into a full product. We can also recommend the development kit that has the right tools to do what you want it to do. 

9. Software 

If you need software creating for testing and a test plan, we can investigate and advise with software debugging. When you are physically testing something (for example in an environmental oven), we can create a test plan to look at 3 degrees at a time for example. We can then customise the software accordingly to tell the environmental chamber that you want it to do that. 

10. Compliance 

We can arrange compliance and oversee testing at the test house (subject to Covid restrictions) if needed to help you get through these important steps. 

11. Technical file creation 

We can check and update technical files too. This task can be tiresome and long-winded when you have other items to complete and having someone highly competent to do it for you can be a real breath of fresh air.  

12. Roadmapping 

We can carry out a workshop with you and support your product roadmap so you have a clearer vision of where to go next.  

Which of these are you?

I need help fast on a small project – If this blog resonates with you start your journey with a quick discovery call

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I have a long project to complete – Maybe you have a bigger project in mind? Talk to us about your needs and then book a tech discovery with our engineers.

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