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Case Study

Compliance case study

The Client

An intruder and fire alarm SME manufacturing and installing their own products based in the East Midlands with a UK only market.

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The Issue

The company was first to market in the UK with a basic temporary evacuation alarm for construction sites. The company wanted to expand sales into Europe and beyond. However, due to changing CE marking requirements and having to setup systems before dispatch, the product line needed a full redesign before European export would be viable.

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Our approach

What we did

Getting the requirements right

Before diving straight into development, we ensured that the requirements for the products were properly understood.

The starting place here was:

CE marking directives relating to the products
Product standards to test compliance against
Radio frequency allocations in each EU country
Requirements from existing customers in the field
Operational and logistical requirements for export

The desire to export the product via distribution meant it was important they could be easily set up and maintained on site by users with minimal expertise. It also allowed products to be supported with minimal additional overhead. This lead to a simple pairing operation which could be learned quickly and easily performed on site whilst wearing safety gloves and other PPE.

Another key aspect identified was the requirements to minimise power consumption to provide over 3 years of operation without changing battery packs. The company had already committed to new injection mould enclosures as part of a separate cost reduction project and wanted to use them on this project. The cost reduction project products only lasted for between 3 and 6 months between battery changes. Additionally, 6 to 12 fold improvement on battery life needed within the same enclosure and using the same battery packs made it clear there were challenges ahead.

From the above array of requirements an overall system design document produced to capture all of the requirements ready for delivery.

Confirm system design with compliance test houses
The system design was presented to and thoroughly reviewed by the British Standards Institute to ensure that our intended approach was acceptable and able to be approved.

The review led to some minor system design updates and gave us confidence to proceed into the product development with confidence.

Unit design

Following system design approval the design and implementation of each unit was planned in detail, this included:

Using pre-approved, off the shelf fire products where possible to minimise development time and risk
Designing electronics, communications and firmware to be modular and re-usable across all units in the product range
Establishing quality control metrics for product development automating repeated testing of the major product use cases to maximise test coverage with a minimum of labour overhead
Identifying and auditing supply chain partners for every part used and for the products manufacturing.

Implementation

Electronics pcb’s were designed, prototyped and tested to meet the defined unit requirements together with the firmware to control the units. Automated testing was developed in parallel with the units development and used to confirm the requirements of each unit had been met.

After a further round of prototype manufacturing and test a finalised batch of type test units were produced, assembled and sent to a notified body. Here, a type test together with a full installation and maintenance manual and a full documentation pack occurred.

During third party type test production test fixtures were designed, produced and integrated to the production line with instructions and training given as required. This was key to ensuring ongoing manufacturing quality and repeatability. Trial manufacturing runs were made in readiness for product launch and for approval of production during a factory production control audit.

The products and production control passed all requirements, Certificates of Constancy of Performance were issued and the product had the green light to go into volume production.

The Results

The company launched Europe’s only temporary fire alarm approved to EN54 and re-asserted their number one position in the market. With their first ever exportable product the company have grown their export sales with a revenue of over £5million per year and growing.

A product variant was subsequently produced and taken through FCC approvals for export to North America, Canada and Australia which continues to grow worldwide support.

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