The client manufactures equipment to monitor the energy use of businesses. They had developed a state of the art electronics system utilising an innovative PCB assembly which they now required housing in a custom injection moulded enclosure. The styling of this enclosure had to reflect the importance of this new generation of products as their flagship product range. The client required two versions of the top cover so that it could be branded for two separate commercial markets. The enclosure would also need to be capable of mounting onto proprietary bus bar rails found inside large control cabinets as well as being wall mounted with screws and plugs.
Each of the elements in the range required housing in a custom injection moulded enclosure and the client wanted to ensure that the styling of this new product range reflected the importance of this new generation of products as their flagship product range. The client wanted to ensure that the needs of each engineering discipline were met and balanced into a ‘best fit’ and invited Hillside Design to collaborate with the client’s own electronics design team at the critical point when the layout of the PCBs was transitioning from bench prototypes. Hillside Design had worked with the client on other product developments and the collaboration proved to be straightforward with each anticipating the others requirements.
Hillside Design developed a range of injection moulded enclosures which allowed for various configurations of input/output sockets and connections. The client required several cosmetic and functional prototypes throughout the development and Hillside Design prepared several types of prototypes using CNC machining, 3D printing and traditional modelmaking. The early prototypes were key to evaluating all the different versions of connections that could reasonably be expected in use worldwide. As the development progressed the prototypes were used for reviewing assembly, appearance, maintenance, compliance with recognised test authorities and the hands-on experience of real-life installation and performance in its working environment. In the later stages, the prototypes were used to validate the product ahead of manufacture with pre tooling checking and for promotional photography in advance of final production parts being available.
During the development stage of the project Hillside Design maintained a continuous implementation of adjustments across the whole range of elements in the product range between the electronic and mechanical elements. Our commitment to fast tracking the development minimised delays for others who were working on the development and ensured the programme stayed on schedule even at peaks of activity when out of hours working was necessary. At a very early stage in the project Hillside Design and the client had identified an offshore toolmaker and injection moulder as the manufacturing partner. Although the toolmaker was in a different time zone, Hillside Design supported them with 24-hour availability and provided responses within the hour throughout the stages leading up to tooling and during tooling and sampling.
The toolmaking and sampling schedule went according to plan with only minor surface finishing issues having to be solved before a sign off for production was given. Finished parts were shipped and available to coincide with completed electronics assemblies, packaging and branding which resulted in a fully built product being ready in plenty of time for scheduled launch.