Companies with an excellent market demand keep on creating new products to solve the customer’s problems or create them to enhance their employees’ productivity. They start with product roadmaps, define projects and schedules, allocate different resources, and assign a certain budget for the upcoming project. As managers and project teams will be accountable for working within these factors, it is essential to understand the different aspects of developing customized electronics design.
Here are some major considerations for preparing the design and development of any customized electronic device, focusing on planning realistic expectations for schedule, cost, and risk.
Defining product requirements:
Whenever a new concept idea comes into the picture, defining its product requirements becomes undoubtedly the first step. Moreover, the concept helps set the scope and directly impacts the cost and schedule required to transform it into a real product. Thus, here are some important considerations that companies need to include:
While thinking about a product idea, it is essential to determine the product’s usability by the end customer. This can include hard features like the number of USB interfaces or specifying the microprocessor. The uses cases for such things include how long the battery will last between charges, what are the most critical operations, which switches can be turned off when needed, will the product work in harsh environments, and so on.
Apart from the use cases, there will be a hard requirement to define the product. These requirements can include things like software, electronics, user interface, packaging, sturdiness, and many more.
The life span of the product:
The life span states the length of time required to design, develop, manufacture, and repair the product. Some parts require specific types of microprocessors and display units that are manufactured at high volumes but only for short periods. Such parts may be available for up to two years and then become unavailable. On the other hand, several microprocessors and display units are available for a longer period, like five to ten years or more than that. In such cases, knowing the life span of a product helps to determine the upfront impacts on part selection, supply chain stability, design effort, and product’s selling price.
It is essential to identify the priorities for use cases and feature sets of the customized electronics design so that the risks associated with costing, scheduling, and characterization can be traded off to meet with development budget, market demand, and product price points.
The selling price of the product:
Any product idea’s success will depend upon the ability to manufacture it and the selling price that generates profit. All companies usually have a return on investment or profitability metrics, which target the product’s selling price. The profit margin and target selling price help set limits on the designing, development, and manufacturing costs of the device or product. Knowing these costs upfront helps to set the scope for the design approach, feature set, and parts selection.
After defining the product requirements, companies need to focus on engineering development costs. These costs are often known as non-recurring engineering costs. They combine internal labour, contracts, material costs, etc. There may be several other hidden or overlooked costs if it is a customized electronics design. Below are some considerations related to the development costs:
Engineering design labor:
The complexity in the design of an electronic product is not necessarily related to its number of features. Instead, it determines the complexity that will come while implementing those features and the extent to which previously implemented intellectual property can be leveraged. It will also determine the competencies of the engineering team. The labour predictions in such cases need to be accurate as they show honest assessments of the engineering team combined with managers’ expertise.
Outsourcing the customized electronics design and development turns to be effective in terms of cost, risk, and schedule. TronicsZone is one such company that provides customized electronics design and help the companies to bring their ideas into a real product. The main reasons to outsource the design and development include a lack of internal resources or the need to leverage experienced engineers.
There are several areas in the electron design; some are related to the design of battery-operated devices while some with portable devices. Besides, the success of any design needs a combination of processor design, development, and modification of the operating system, enclosure design, temperature management, the specification for touch screen components, etc. The customized electronics design companies already have this expertise and knowledge of things that help develop and manufacture a robust device while minimizing the cost, time, and risk associated with it.
Customized electronics devices need at least two build iterations for getting the perfect design and rectify any issues. Thus, the prototype costs can rise because the per-unit materials are purchased in low quantities. Besides, there will be a tool’s requirements for one-time engineering of custom components.
Contact third party companies or vendors for preliminary quotes:
Generate reports by connecting with several firms and get Rough Order of Magnitude quotes depending on the requirements of the product.
Product Development Plan:
The product development plan can certainly have a particular amount of risk but can be made with expertise and an established set of practices and processes. Companies must include engineering labour, contract execution, and material purchase through the supply chain while creating the product development plan or schedule.
This factor consists of the time needed to finalize the requirements, conceptualize the product’s architecture, and implement the design, build, debug, test, and then deployment. In this case, the time frame is usually estimated by experts in the field, depending on their experience or research. These time frames can be shortened or lengthened depending on the count of engineers that would work on product development.
Contracts are essential while buying the service or high-value components needed in the customized electronics design. Hence, they should be identified as early as possible to create a proper budget and schedule the estimation.
Purchasing materials such as mechanical parts or electronic components requires some time. Some of these parts might be stocked as the commercial off-the-shelf components at distributors with specific time duration on the order of days. Other components or parts may have insufficient stock, either because of the high quantity requirement or because the customized part is being designed and developed.
Before the product is sold in the market, it should meet all the relevant government certifications. The planning for certification’s success will include:
- Identifying the different certifications needed for a product depending on its uses, functions, and industries of sale.
- Connecting with certified testing labs to get a rough quote, including costs and duration required for completing test plans, reporting, and creating paperwork as required.
- Finding the required support for testing along with prototype test units or text fixtures. Besides, creating a budget and scheduling these items in the project plan is also necessary.
Production planning is crucial, and it should be done early in the project. Factors like unit quantity, supply chain, manufacturing process, and various other factors impact the planning and design of customized electronic products. The considerations in this phase should include:
Make vs. Buy:
The first and foremost decision is whether to manufacture the customized electronics design product in-house or outsource it. Both options have their own benefits. The in-house production will make sense if the company has created a customized electronics design. Besides, the company with good infrastructure and profitable cost of goods sold enables it to make the desired profit.
On the other side, outsourcing becomes a lower cost alternative because the manufacturers will often write off the overhead costs across a huge range of product. Such companies aggregate purchases of parts and raw material across different product lines to gain economies of scale and benefit from the competencies in the production process.
Testing in production:
It is important to test the product during the manufacturing process as it prevents the deficient product from getting shipped and flags any manufacturing process issues early. The features required for the production test should be designed into the electronic products up-front with physical tests on circuit boards, software support, and diagnostic ports.
Create and maintain supply chain:
Creating and maintaining a supply chain is essential to manufacture the customized electronics design product on time reliably. It makes the process functional with acceptable cost and quality over time. All in all, planning and establishing the supply chain directly impacts the product design and manufacturing.
Almost every customized electronics design and the end-product are subject to risk as it is impossible to detect how the event will unfold in the future. Thus, risk planning as a standard program management strategy is essential and it can include the following things:
- Add management buffer in both the budget and time to allow for delays, under-estimations, and undetected circumstances.
- Perform low cost, fast turn prototypes before committing to any long term, high prices designs
We hope this article helps the companies to move ahead conveniently with their new customized electronics design and its following processes.