The client manufactures equipment to monitor energy use within businesses. They had developed a state-of-the-art hardware and software system delivering real world, minute by minute energy monitoring and integrated control. The system is accessible using the cloud and elements are network linked through a IoT hub. The elements of the system monitor single and three phase electrical devices and include environmental sensors for temperature, humidity, lighting, air quality and occupancy. The system operates 24/7 and is accessed and controlled via a virtual command centre dashboard.
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 a number of 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 the scheduled launch.