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8th October 2021

13 Product Development Halloween Nightmares

How to be the hero of your own electronic product development journey 

We love protecting our customers from the monsters of electronic product development. Many of us also love films. So, we’ve combined these two in our latest Halloween nightmares blog. 

Read about these product development Halloween nightmares and how to defeat them 

  1. Feasibility

The friend who turns out to be the monster 

When you fail to spot an avoidable fault. The pain of looking foolish and the costs involved.  

One twist sure to shock you every time, is the friend of the hero, who turns out to be the bad guy all along.  

Not only is the hero left vulnerable but also feeling foolish for not seeing the truth earlier. 

Having the best tech idea for your team offers the promise of profits, recognition and promotions. But when that great idea lets you down, failure and humiliation beckons. 

Imagine if these film characters had a way to test their relationship at the start and discover the truth. It wouldn’t make for a great horror movie but at least the hero would be safe.  

The blunt truth can be painful. But an uncomfortable truth now is better than the agony of defeat later.  

Especially when that defeat involves a lot of money, the cost of product development, or potentially worse, time! 

Feasibility studies are your path to reveal the truth quickly. Unveil commercial and technical issues that need solving. So you can plan ahead and minimise those nasty surprises. Be the hero who swoops in and stops the hidden villain in their tracks. 

Want another way to get to the truth at lightning speed?  

Book a call with Poppy Sinclair. She offers refreshing honesty through her in-depth knowledge.  Guiding customers through projects and pointing out red flags during that first call. If there are alarm bells ringing she won’t hide, she’d tell you. 

Be the hero of your project by starting off the right way. 

Talk about Feasibility 

Free Feasibility Ebook – There nothing spooky about our feasibility Ebook.

Request your copy

2. Product development 

The Maze 

Project going round in circles? 

Getting lost in a halloween maze full of horrors is our marketing manager Hannah’s worst nightmare! You have no idea of the time needed to get out. For any data or results driven engineering team it is enough to drive you quickly mad! 

Are your team are spending hours on an issue they can’t solve? Perhaps your electronics design company is leaving your project on the shelf for months dealing with other customers. The frustration levels are high, especially when launch deadlines are looming and senior management are screaming for updates. 

Find a clear path through the maze. Every moment you save means more time making profit when your product is launched. 

Ride off into the sunset with a successful product. 

Clear the path with product development  

 3. Value engineering 

The spiralling disaster 

When 7p becomes a big problem 

In many apocalyptic movies a string of events take place that cascade and multiply until there is no way to stop it. Such as a zombie end of the word scenario. 

Imagine you have a doubled-sided PCB in your project. You are keen to get the product out there. So, when someone suggests saving measly amount per unit by redesigning for a one-sided PCB, your eyes glaze over and you move on. 

Next thing you know your high-volume product is a success. But you notice something that makes your blood run cold. You’ve just done the maths and realised, for a quick redesign you could have made a huge amount of extra profit. That difference could have propelled your business to new heights and allowed for extra R&D investment on a new product line you want to try. Suddenly that missed opportunity has left a sting in the tail. 

End your project story feeling rich. In money and your abilities to pull off a successful development journey.  

Read how we made a difference with 7p 

4. Design For Availability 

Case of the killer chips 

When you start flicking channels on Halloween or Prime you’ll find everything from Llamageddon to Sharknado. In other words, novelty ways things can kill you. 

In the real world there have been many real-life horrors in the past couple of years. One of the most topical for product developers is the global chip shortages. 

The horror scenario is this. You are ready to launch and then find you can’t manufacture more products. The reason? One of your components can’t be sourced. No problem, you think, I’ll find another part. But then you find the lead time is 9 months, you can’t wait that long. It’s like the part in the film where the hero just needs to get on the train, but he’s stuck in a queue with no way to get through.  

This scenario has actively happened to at least one of our customers, the chips not the train! Luckily we have a number of tricks up our sleeve. You can read about how to tackle the chip shortages as a product developer and read our design for availability case study too. 

Be the person who tackled this. Book a discovery call 

Discuss Design for availability 

5. Environmental Testing 

Fear the cold 

Hello product recall 

Many films lead with someone trapped in unforgiving terrains. A blizzard, a desert, you name it. 

Here the main threat to the protagonist is survival. It doesn’t matter if they conquer everything else because if they can’t survive the elements then it’s game over. 

Sometimes product launches can be just as brutal. Your innovative product may change the world. But if it can’t sit in a car on a hot day then the poor reviews will start flooding in. Next thing you know a product recall has been issued.  

Or maybe you get the best-case scenario of a hefty compliance bill. You’ll then have to through the compliance process again. And that is going to be expensive. Next thing you know you aren’t the golden go-to person for your colleagues and MD anymore. 

Luckily instead of hiding from monsters we’ve organised our downstairs lab into a test area with useful kits to help you out. Like our two on-site environmental test chambers. 

Be the victor who conquers in all temperatures. Embrace the heat.  

Environmental Testing Chambers Nottingham UK

Book an environmental test chamber 

6. Running out of time 

The ghouls are coming. You have the best team around you, but you are outnumbered. There are just too many of them! 

In this case ‘them’ is the technical issues you need to solve. Your 4 engineers are working full pelt. But all you are getting is screams from the other departments to hurry up. You have two options. Fight or flight. 

You have two options. The rock and the hard place. You rush the job through and risk costly mistakes in the design. Or you bail on the launch date and become hugely unpopular. 

However, there is another way. Borrow an engineer. 

You can’t just hire anyone. They need to feel like an extension of your team. So how about some regular updates over Teams, our slack channel and highly qualified electronics and software engineers? Meet the Ignys engineering team. 

If you can’t beat them. Join up with an engineering team like Ignys. 

Borrow an Ignys engineer

 Don't be chained to time

7. Out of battery

It’s not the 90s anymore, people are rarely without technology from GPS to phone calls. A lot of older horror movies would be over in seconds if someone could dial 999 on their mobile. 

 But if the phone power dies then it may as well be a few decades ago. You could become lost in the woods or be left stranded. Game over.  

Your audience is going to want great power consumption whether that’s for efficiency or environmental reasons.  

Power up your customers  

Use power consumption reduction 

8. Software  

It is easy to jump in and write “quick and dirty” code to get a demonstrator running.  Taking this into a real life product can lead to all sorts of horrors.  When you think that many products have thousand or hundreds of thousands of line of code there can be bugs hidden away, memory leaks ready to crash your device and all manor of hidden nasties. Properly architecting the code in readily testable modules will result in less bugs and make later changes and additions much easier.  Hacking and throwing code together quickly produces a can of worms that is unsupportable. 

Explore software development options

9.  Design Verification (Testing) 

Don’t forget something important

There can be a world of difference between a handful of working prototypes and scaling up to deliver hundreds, thousands or even millions of products with consistent quality and reliability.  When you scale, the possibilities of things going wrong are amplified. Users are using the product how they think it should be used, regardless of the instruction manual!  Devices are used across the range of enviroments they have been designed for and beyond.  Tolerancing and alternate component sourcing can bring variation to the products which may mean they don’t properly function.  The products are used for much longer durations, they are dropped, heated, have coffee spilt on them and more!  The production environment and process may not be 100% identical for every batch or even every unit.   

A combination of strategies including testing that the hardware meets all performance specifications across sample batches before and after accelerated life testing and during expected usage conditions, automated production testing to ensure each device is functionally working before leaving the factory and regression testing of software releases to ensure a fix for one issue hasn’t impacted another all contribute to a lower risk product manufacturing scale up. 

Design Verification and Testing Service

Quick Fire Monsters to solve 

10. Drowning in red tape?

Make compliance work for you, don’t let it trip you up 

11. Show off with a prototype

Before you create Frankenstein’s monster and then multiply it by a few thousand, work with us and our trusted partners on A and B models with MVPs to impress investors and full electronic prototyping. 

12. Electronics design partner choice made easy

One of the scariest reveals is seeing the monster for the first time, once you’ve seen it it loses some of its scare factor, or even better just avoid meeting one in the first place! We follow up our discovery calls with tech discoveries so you get the chances to meet engineers on our team and ask in-depth technical questions. Book a call

13. R&D nightmares – Check out our Halloween blog from last year

Halloween pumpkins

7 scary things that haunt R&D teams and how to fight them 

  • Don’t have capacity 
  • IR35 
  • Battery life not up to the task 
  • Product testing boring the life out of you 
  • Contractor disappears 
  • Roadmap down the rabbit hole 
  • Technical know-how trips you up 

Just for fun – Software nightmares from our team 

  • if (rand(1,20) != 4) {  return;}  
  • Debugging a high speed peripheral interface (such as USB) without having equipment to properly see what’s going on. (edited)   
  • Error messages that give no idea of what is wrong e.g. ”an error has occurred, exiting”.  

Blog Authorship

This blog was co-written by Hannah Ingram who has the very scary job of working with electronics design and software development engineers day in day out and Richard Fletcher who knows the horrors of product development from working in the electronics industry for 20 years and running Ignys, award winning electronics design and software development consultancy. Here’s an extra scary picture of Richard and Hannah.