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Product development - design and implementation

Connect, March/April 1999

An example of the novel joint design used in the construction of the controller
An example of the novel joint design used in the construction of the controller

There is a tendency to see design merely as fashion: this is to misunderstand its importance and understate what can be achieved. Design can mean creation, innovation, engineering skills, production or process engineering, or appearance. It usually means a combination of these and other qualities, including the financial and management skills to champion the new design.

For a successful company, design is an integrated process resulting in goods and services that can be supplied effectively to provide a competitive advantage. Of course, these goods and services must have market appeal in terms of performance, appearance and value for money.

As an example, after using TWI's consultancy services, GEC designed and developed a second-generation microprocessor-based junction controller that sets new standards in flexibility and robustness.

Their original controller was made of coated steel, which provides good corrosion resistance and is used in many successful applications. However, this was giving them some problems and they came to TWI to explore the alternatives available.

The novel design minimises interconnection and eliminates backplane requirements, producing a more straightforward and reliable hardware build. The new design allows for:

  • durability
  • flexibility
  • minimum lifetime cost
  • ease of installation and maintenance

The design and build were made possible by innovative joint design, developed for use in conjunction with adhesives. The case allows for front maintenance access with maximum space for cable entry and termination. Materials used were aluminium extrusions which are aluchromed and then bonded, and heat curing epoxy.

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