The client and challenge
The client, a controls designer and electronics manufacturing services provider for multiple industries, suffered significant losses in its previous fiscal year. Its main source of revenue comes from contract manufacturing, and its engineering services division needed some quick wins to show the potential for future earnings.
The client received a project from a key client (a developer of in-flight entertainment and communications solutions) for a Power Supply Assembly DC-AC Inverter module. This project required the client to design and develop the embedded software and hardware, and provide two AC outputs (110Vac, 60Hz) using an input of 180 Vdc. The PSA needed to provide monitoring and management for the AC loads, and the end client’s requirements mandated that the inverter meet the safety standards of UL, FAA and aviation industry OEMs.
Because of the significant future business potential with this client, the client needed to take on and deliver the project successfully. However, it needed a services provider that could help overcome several challenges:
The EASi solution
- Lack of engineering bandwidth to meet an aggressive 10-week prototype timeline, and inability to quickly ramp-up resources for a short-term and high-risk project
- Lack of technical knowledge in-house in the area of power inverters
- Lack of expertise on DO-178B, and insufficient internal software and hardware development processes to meet that standard
EASi supported the PSA inverter module project by assembling a team of subject matter experts on a flex team that consisted of a principal hardware engineer, senior software engineer and a senior project manager that worked with the client on-site and from one of our delivery centers.
EASi builds teams of top engineers in key disciplines using the talent acquisition power of Aerotek, EASi’s parent company and the largest provider of engineering staffing in the United States according to Staffing Industry Analysts. We engaged our dedicated practices team, which provides continued solutioning support to assess project performance and assist with new problems, to serve as technical/process experts as the project was defined and executed. Our solution provided:
- Clear system requirement identification
- Complete problem identification with flex architect solution
- Predictions of possible add-ons and implementation of them onto the pre-design
Our team identified strategic partnerships with the following component suppliers:
- Semiconductor supplier simulation team
- Specialized custom inductor supplier
- Relay manufacturer
We designed the first PCB schematic in conjunction with the client’s layout engineer. By Week 7.5, the first hardware prototype was built and software integration was initiated. However, in Week 8.5, during our client’s review with its end client, new product requirements were identified.
We modified the architecture to meet newly-identified requirements, rapidly redesigning hardware schematics and the software platform. Updated hardware layout was completed by Week 10. At the same time, EASi worked with suppliers to get components to the client’s location, and our team manually placed components on the PCBs under a microscope.
Controls hardware updates and software integration were completed between Week 10.1 to 11.5. From that point through Week 12, all fault codes and client demos were completed.
The client’s internal benchmark for delivery on this project was more than 30 weeks; EASi was able to successfully deliver the same results (with late change requests) in 60 percent less time and ensure that the end client received the prototypes on schedule. The final product was delivered with conversion efficiencies of 96.75 percent through the client’s required power range, and efficiencies of more than 98 percent at 90 watts. This successful performance has been critical to helping our client garner more business from a key client; because of the successful completion of the PSA project, our client has been awarded six additional projects from this client.
Our solution and results exceeded the client’s expectation and its managers reported being “elated” with the final product delivered. By partnering with EASi, our client enhanced its product engineering capability multifold without having to make capital investments. As such, it has engaged our services for two additional scopes of work. This significantly increases its ability to win engineering business from its clients, enabling it to provide a one-stop solution from product engineering to contract manufacturing and drive future growth.