Electronic Product Development


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Getting From a Concept or Idea to a Marketable Product.

Introduction

Centron system Solutions follows a high quality product development process that is ISO9000 compliant. It goes through six stages, which are outlined below. These stages have been presented in a linear fashion but sections of this process may iterate if required

Feasibility

Depending on a number of factors, this may be the first step required in any product development process. It may be necessary to prove either the technical feasibility or the market feasibility of the product or concept. Clients, who have not been involved with the target market before, may require some market research to be done to confirm that there is a market for their idea. Concepts that involve stretching the existing technology or which involve leading edge technical development will also require some time spent proving that the technical requirements can be met. This will, on occasion, require the development of prototype printed circuit boards (pcb) and electronic design and also on occasion the development of proof of concept software development. Once this phase is complete the market requirement for the product or service will be confirmed and the feasibility of creating the product from a technical perspective will be decided.

Product Design

This encompasses a whole range of elements from the aesthetic to the functional. An overall approach is required here, including such factors as:

- final cost and manufactured cost,
- manufacturing requirements,
- intended materials,
- market appeal,
- CE mark,
- functionality,
- User Interface
- durability required of the product
- Software Design
- Electronic Design.
- Product Design

Once this phase is complete the product or concept will have been designed and this design will be discussed with the client to get early input on all the relevant factors. The design will also be reviewed internally within the company to ensure no critical factors have been missed.

Prototype

Prototypes vary in appearance and functionality from a basic functional model to the fully finished display model. They can include prototype plastics, prototype electronics, prototype printed circuit boards (pcb) and early software versions, all put together to get a first look at the product features and functionality. The product will have been designed and created for a first look evaluation. This prototype gives the Engineering team and the client a critical appraisal of how the finished product will look. The functionality of the prototype is also critically assessed through a series of rigorous testing. This is an opportunity for all involved to identify any problems with the look of the product and its functionality.
Once this phase is complete the Engineering team will be ready to move on to the next stage. All input on changes required to the look and functionality of the product will be gathered into a report and this will be used to guide the Engineering team in the creation of the final product.

Compliance Testing

Every product placed on sale in the European Union must be labelled with the CE mark to assert that it complies with the regulations pertaining to that product. This covers a range of testing and is different for every product. Core sections of this testing include product safety testing, immunity to electromagnetic radiation and electromagnetic radiation emissions. The reader is guided to this sites page on the CE mark for further reading. -> CE mark
Once this phase is complete the Engineering team will be able to ensure that the product can be certified. Additional testing may be required of the final product.

Preparation for Manufacture

Bringing a product from development to manufacture requires an amount of planning and interfacing with the manufacturer. There are screens to be manufactured, Bills of material (BOM) to be prepared, automatic tests or functional tests to be created. It may be that the client hopes to license the finished product once it has been through the development process. In this case he may not require that the preparation for manufacture be completed.
Once this phase is complete a trial manufacturing run will be completed. This will identify problems with the manufacturing process and also, given that itís the first time the product has been manufactured in any numbers, may also highlight any remaining electronic design or software development problems that were not evident from the prototype.
Following a trial manufacturing run the product is ready for full manufacture.

Product Support

Once the product has been launched on the market there will be a requirement for product support. Depending on the product this may be telephone support to the general public or onsite support to trained technical or professional people.

- Printable version of this document (pdf).