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Quarterly Bulletin
 
Reducing time to market – An interest shared
 
 

Not until your new product reaches the buyers on the market it can contribute to the financial result of your company. The sooner product delivery starts the better for business. Hectronic shares that interest. We are experts in development and supply of embedded computers and make a living on product sales. Let’s take a look at a scenario that may be relevant to you.

 
The scenario takes its inspiration from real life and our customer's actual problems, possibilities, Hectronic's suggestions on a solution and the benefits thereby arising for the customer. The purpose of the text is to inspire you to see new possibilities for your business using the benefits with Hectronic's business model.

A mechanical engineering company has computers embedded in their products. The product offer consists of process machinery and sales have increased substantially lately. Due to that the design was made a couple of years ago some components have increased lead times. One of the challenges faced is that the processor and chipset of the embedded computer board is no longer in production. Components have still been available on the spot market but prices have increased.
 

Reuse of building blocks saves time

The main focus lately naturally has been the production and delivery of process machinery not to lose customers. The difficulties in getting access to components and the increasing prices have turned the situation into quite a problem. Now a replacement of the existing embedded computer is desperately needed to continue production and delivery to customers.

 

Hectronic presented a project with an aggressive schedule to develop, industrialize and begin shipment of a replacement to the obsolete computer board. The suggested new board was based on an existing processor platform design (Schematics, PCB layout, bill of materials, BIOS and firmware) with CPU, chipset and memory.  The platform was already in use both in a CPU module offered as a standard product and on a couple of custom computer boards.

 

Reuse of building blocks (such as the processor platform design) is an important part of Hectronic’s business model. Furthermore the suggested project included building blocks from Hectronic’s libraries such as power supply circuitry, I/O interface and graphics.

 

Shortened lead time and decreased NRE cost

The integration of the building blocks into a working computer board required some design efforts of course. The CEO of the mechanical engineering company looked quite pleased when he realized that the parts making up the majority of the design was already completed and verified as the project was initiated.

 

The fact that the board was built by integrating existing building blocks is obvious to the eye (Link: Rapid product launch through reuse of building blocks). The computer board was required to fit the existing space of its predecessor which was a development challenge. However with the vast number of building block combinations possible a solution was in place in a timely manner. A start from scratch with new placements of components and routing of leaders would have resulted in a more compact computer board. But in this case time to market and backwards compatibility were the requirements in focus.

 

An advantage associated with the building block strategy is that it shortens the lead time of the development project. The non-recurring engineering, NRE cost is also kept low. The customer only pays for development of product unique functionality and for the integration of the building blocks used. Our aim isn’t focused on billable hours. We strive to deliver products and our product sales are way larger than our consultancy business.

 

Adaptation to production requirements

And let’s not forget the final phase of technical development: industrialization. It’s actually not a final phase, but considerations and adaptations to the design from day one for us. Early on a manufacturer from a couple of the ones we work with is selected for production. We make sure that the one we choose have experience of the necessary technology involved such as size of BGA components. The bill of materials is adapted to fit the manufacturer and test systems for production are included in the development project.

 

Let’s recapitulate. Hectronic’s goal is shipping products. Libraries of building blocks save time, lowers cost and speed up technical development. Our set-up, experience and know-how include industrialization for smooth transition to production. Time to market is really an interest shared.

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