Promwad has 10 years of experience in electronics and engineering

Electronic product development stages

When designing new products, we adhere to a strict classification of seven main development stages developed by our company. We understand that by skipping any stage of project development we maximize the risks and shift them, as a rule, to the final stage of product full-scale production.

Some stages can have several iterations, and this is normal in the process of creating technically complex and competitive products. Iterative approach is also often applied when creating software-hardware platforms, designed for building product line-ups on their basis.

Electronic product design process can be split into the following stages:

Product concept creation

This is the stage of development when ideas begin to take the shape of a commercially successful product. Competitive products are analyzed and a comparison table is created – Technical Level Map (TLM). The unique combination of functional-technical product characteristics is defined, and specialists select a business model that will ensure the commercial success of the created electronic device.

Technical specialists and industry experts prepare a detailed requirements specification and product concept design, with a full description of functional features and benefits. At the same time, business analysts write a business plan on the basis of the selected business model and expert reviews. Additional marketing researches, investment searches, and many other types of product research can be conducted at this stage as well.

The result of this stage of development is a completed documentation package that defines the product concept.

 

Proof-of-concept

At this stage, we create a draft project, prepare requirements specifications, write specifications, and analyze possible product uses.

Next, we specify prices with components manufacturers, and sign NDAs with the corresponding manufacturers of the component base for receiving additional technical information. After this, we select base components and make preliminary calculations of product self-cost (Bill of Materials) by taking into account the costs of manufacturing in different batches.

Specialists verify device implementation, and very often by the end of this stage they assemble and test a device prototype. To develop and assemble the prototype we buy an Evaluation Kit for the selected target platform. Engineers evaluate the selected hardware and software technical solutions, examine potentially weak points from the point of view of technical implementation, platform performance and other important characteristics. As a result, they can come to a conclusion about the correctness of the product's target platform choice.

The result of this stage is the conclusion about the correctness of the selected platform and justification of technical decisions. A ‘Desk-type’ device prototype with limited functionality may also be created during this stage.

 

Electronic device development

The purpose of this stage is to create a design and project documentation package for the created device. At this stage we specify the list of used components and design printed circuit board (PCB). We also make a components list (Bill of Materials) and get accurate prices from the suppliers.

Engineers design HMI (Human-Machine Interface) interfaces and define the control and information display units required for user interface. They also design interface, build the functions tree and create controls concepts.

Together with schematic development, we create a device case design. On the basis of this sketch and the HMI interface, we create a solid model and device construction and perform PCB layout in the necessary form-factor.

The software architecture, which was defined at the previous stage, is implemented and the software is adapted and elaborated. Specialists create all types of tests for verifying the correctness of software operation. They also compose program tests that will allow checks of both software and hardware operation.

The result of this stage is a package of design documentation for the device and the completion of final preparations for manufacturing the pilot batch.

 

Pilot batch

The purpose of this stage is to manufacture a pilot batch for verifying the device operability and eliminating any possible errors made in the design stage. The pilot batch samples can then be used to market the product to potential customers and investors or prepared for device certification tests.

At this stage our specialists purchase components, put PCBs into production and assemble them, check the device case for ease of assembly, and order device cases which are close to the final variant. After assembling the PCBs, they perform a “bring-up” (first launch/start). Then they port the operating system and bootloader, elaborate drivers, system and high-level software. All device components are assembled together and thorough integration testing is performed.

After the results of testing and/or test operation, functional requirements for the product can be elaborated and design documentation can be changed as needed. The majority of functionalities implemented on the program level do not require any hardware changes – that is why they can be handled during other product development stages. Sometimes clients may decide to repeat one or more development iterations, which can lead to changes in schematics, construction, PCBs, etc. The risks of such a scenario are much higher if you skip Stage 1 or 2 of the development process: ‘Product Concept Creation’ and ‘Proof-of-Concept’.

The result of this stage is the creation of a functional pilot batch for integration testing. After the results of the testing, changes in the design documentation can be made as necessary.

 

Certification tests

Our experience shows that if you do not take into consideration the necessity of making preliminary certification tests then you are at a higher risk of experiencing material losses later. At this stage we need to define the class of the device, the necessity of making preliminary certification tests, and prepare the test schedule. After the results of preliminary certification tests, we must protocol the results of measurements made and, if necessary, make changes in design documentation.

The result of this stage of development is the decision of a corresponding organization with the results of preliminary certification tests for the device.

 

Preparation for production and pilot batch launch

The main purpose of the pilot batch launch is to prepare the product for full-scale production and check the manufacturing of the device in real production. At this stage we can detect product defects, which may not have been detected on the small number of samples, and make minor changes in schematics, case design and PCB.

The specialists then make the final optimization of BOM (Bill of Materials), write final documentation and, with the help of technologists, they create assembly charts targeted for a specific production. They also plan logistics in detail, exploring the risks and bottlenecks of full-scale production.

The team also develops and checks test coverage for JTAG analyzer, introducing this technology into production. Other tasks in this stage include development of tools for POST testing and post-production tests in case it is necessary to increase test coverage.

The result of this stage is a manufactured pilot batch and documentation package for launching the product into full-scale production.

 

Full-scale production

The purpose of this stage is the industrial production of the device, ready to be sold to the end user.

At this stage, developers can support full-scale production by:

  • controlling the technological process
  • controlling product quality
  • promptly reacting to replacements of electronic components due to various reasons (such as components that are not available or out of production)
  • defining the possible reasons of the emergence of defects in production (low-quality components, violation of technological process, etc)
  • improving tests and increasing test coverage for bottlenecks detected during production
  • optimizing the production process in order to save money on costs

The result of the experts’ work during this stage is quality assurance of the production process and the manufactured products.

 

 

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