PLANNING FOR SCALABILITY
Planning for scalability is like planning to climb Mount Everest after you’ve climbed a few trees.
Staking off Real Estate
Reducing unnecessary complexity in circuit board design is top priority. And unless you’re dealing with high power applications, reducing size competes with your top priority. Add in your third top priority – cost – and you have yourself a trio of newborns requiring constant attention. With these three top priorities battling each other, the winner is usually determined at the expense of the other two.
One way of hedging your bets is to maximize your allowable required real estate from the start. Staking off real estate with Do Not Populate (DNP) landing pads for future sensors will provide you with a brand new next-gen product, along with negligible NRE costs during the next product iteration. This requires insight into component obsolescence, scalable firmware architecture, and PCB layout mastery to avoid undesirable side effects of unpopulated copper. Not only can you avoid engineering costs, but you can also minimize the regulatory costs of re-certifying basically the same product. Strategic planning of future sensor placement requires experienced designers and manufacturing engineers that play well together.
It’s easy to overlook test fixtures until you ramp up for manufacturing. However, it falls under many of the same circumstances as the rest of your product and will hamper commercialization unless it’s taken into account early on. Test points and test pins that are mismatched by a few millimeters can cost weeks of time and thousands of dollars if design modifications are not properly tracked throughout development. Many test fixtures also require customization, which adds to the lead time for parts procurement. Early insight from experienced manufacturing engineers will help to avoid landmines before going to market.