As new product opportunities are endless, developing hardware systems for various purposes is a complex project. Even though IoT systems have a combo of hardware, firmware, and software components, 80% of the necessary expenses and difficulty lies in the embedded system hardware in parallel yet with connection to the firmware. Hence, companies must use an all-around, practical, and agile approach to ensure their builds are secure and on time. So, if you’re considering a new hardware product idea, keep this guide handy!
Create a list of your product idea’s features, configurations, and other details. Be sure to include who your target customer is, what market gap to fill with your project, and any skill sets or resources required that you may not have. Then, work with your team, of course (starting with a technical architect and finishing with a marketing specialist). Finally, to decide on the MVP- which will be elaborated on more in later phases.
2. Preliminary Hardware Designing
Preliminary hardware design closes the gaps between the design concept and the real thing. A microcontroller is a fundamental component in any hardware product that is allied with additional features such as displays, sensors, memory chips, etc. To describe all electronic functions and how they connect with other functional components, start with the System-Level Block diagram. Your component identification process must lead you to having a full Bill of Materials (BOM).
Prototyping links your hardware product on paper and the real thing that will be sold on a shelf. Take it easy and channel your focus on creating an easy engineering prototype. This stage aims to assess whether the proposed features are feasible. If you’re looking to save significant resources like time and money, it’s best to outsource your PCB manufacturing and component assembly to a reliable manufacturer that offers small volume production. Only that will let you be certain that your prototype will be top-quality. On the other hand, if your design is relatively simple and you have some skilled technicians on staff, then you could do the assembly in-house.
4. Design for Manufacturing & Assembly (DFMA)
The DFMA process is critical and comes before your project attains resources for higher-volume manufacturing. In today’s age of mass-manufactured products, both phases are merged into DFDA, with the primary considerations being. That streamlines the complexity and lowers any resulting overhead costs.
By studying every element, production consultants can develop strategies to lower a company’s manufacturing costs. Discovering cost-effective materials for manufacturing without compromising the product’s quality. To avoid having a complex and confusing inventory, use standardized parts.
Make sure to get feedback from your manufacturing partners on your electrical and mechanical designs; if you don’t, it will cost more money, and production will be delayed.
Finding a trustworthy manufacturing partner should be at the top of your priority list before beginning mass production. That is an essential point that most project owners overlook and regret later. However, it can be a fantastic fit in this role as a marketplace for all IoT supply needs.
This phase is Design Verification (DV) and is your chance to make changes to assembly fixtures, evaluate manufacturing setup, and calibrate software tools before moving into production. The manufacturer may need coaching on how to build the product in its exact form as the prototype. That is also when you identify and resolve any remaining issues in the design for the part being manufactured. In this step, you should produce 50-100 units with a goal of zero product failures during design verification.
6. Gate Review to Attain PV
The last step after completion of design verification is to go through a Gate Review. At this time, everything you have contributed to is thoroughly assessed for preparedness to enter mass production. PV (the full term is Process Verification) is another name for production verification when you produce 100+ units up to 200.
Multiple build tests here will show whether the manufacturing process is 100% ready for evolving to a mass production opportunity. However, even with these tests, there is a slight chance that something could still go wrong with the product function-wise. These failures are usually rare cases, however. Therefore, that phase should be used to pinpoint and fix any issues in both design and manufacture which could lead to problems down the line. After that, test the designed goods to discover further problems. That is a very demanding and long-term stage that might take up to six months. Such durability testing fixtures offer important reliability data followed by an overall look at the creation’s quality.
Once your staff has given the quality, it’s a blessing. Get ready for larger quantities to flow down the line to fulfill ‘time-to-market’ deadlines while applying with regulatory authorities to have your unique offer certified for particular regions.
Hardware engineering is a complex project you can still nail and make stellar. Profound consideration, accurate planning, and practical decisions will carry you through that challenge. May your hardware project be successful!