Creativity is not only necessary for innovation in the technological field, but it also helps greatly when growing a company. A truly successful business will look at an opportunity or problem with the same analytical eye to best spin the situation into a gain. This approach applies to OEMs, as well; these companies make deals regularly with suppliers that grant them many opportunities to think outside the box. OEMs and the whole industrial computing business are actually in a great position because of the open-ended nature of the sector. Consumer electronics generally has pretty rigid standards for their components, and very few retailers will let users be choosy with the makeup of something as central as a motherboard.
Creative embedded system design allows OEMs to break out of the “factory default” nature of industrial components and look toward customization. Every OEM is different, and their products will vary; all the more reason to take a hard look at the components being ordered and think about how to resourcefully cut cost.
Creative Embedded System Design on the Board Level
Engineers spend months, sometimes even years, coming up with the proper specifications for a company’s product. They meticulously determine exactly how an item needs to function at peak performance. At this point, the engineer would work with the supplier in order to find what components best fit the design and how it will all come together. Embedded systems can generally be single board devices that are then mounted into a chassis or case. In a perfect world, the embedded board that is chosen by the OEM has everything the design needs and nothing extra. Superfluous USB inputs or an unused display port, for example, does nothing for the end product, as it will likely never be used.
The creative solution from an embedded system design perspective is to look carefully at the board, from the I/O ports to headers on the body of the board, and decide what can be removed. Most distributors can have these unwanted parts removed from the board, as a move toward reduced cost and less clutter. Not only can the buyer have an embedded board that is closer to the desired specifications, they can save money at the same time. OEMs can cut the total cost of their product by a significant margin with this tip, especially when ordering in bulk.
Thinking Outside the Board in Embedded System Design
Another easy cost cutting practice in embedded system design is seeing what accessories come with the component and asking whether if they are necessary. A single embedded board comes with a multitude of cables, fastening equipment and packaging; all of these small bits of plastic and wiring cost money in the overall purchase. If a board already comes with 2 USB ports and that is all it needs, why does the OEM need the extra USB port cables that come with the board. While having an extra cable can sometimes be helpful, repeat purchases can leave an OEM with unneeded excess accessories. Ask the supplier to remove the accessories from the packaging, which will drive cost down further.
What it all comes down to is knowing what your product needs, what the supplier is going to send you, and matching those up as best as possible. It is a relatively simple but often overlooked way to cut cost in the industrial computing market.
Brian Luckman is the President of New Era Electronics. He has worked in the industrial OEM market for over 25 years, serving a variety of different industries, gaining a strong reputation for his expertise and a thorough understanding of how to properly service OEM customers. In 2000 he began New Era Electronics and the company continues to grow. He’s a husband and father and enjoys exploring the outdoors.
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