BVM Ltd were approached by a global OEM, responsible for producing monitoring & control devices to produce analytics via telemetry. The client tasked BVM with designing and manufacturing a small IoT (Gateway) device for the purpose of monitoring systems for remote installations.
The new device was to be the successive product and eventual replacement for an existing product approaching the end the of its long-life time availability, having sold several thousand’s units per annum consistently over many years. The clients Requirements Specification was extensive with a defined list of ‘must haves’ features & functionalities.
BVM translated the design requests into an Engineering Design Specification to be agreed (and signed off) with the client.
From a technical perspective, the challenge was to produce a compact computing system with digital and analogue I/O, dual ethernet network connections, battery backed real time clock and security. Power was to be provided from an existing DC power source ranging from 12V to 24V.
Commercially, and key to enable the new design to compete in an already commercially sensitive market for sale in multiple global locations, was a reduction in cost per unit for the product BOM and assembly whilst improving features, functionality and ease of manufacture.
The design centred around a Raspberry Pi Compute module on a custom PCB carrier board designed and manufactured by BVM. The CM4 was chosen as the central compute solution, to provide a cost-effective route to achieve the required functionality with an abundance of software tools to aid the design.
A major design consideration was the selection of the power supply components. In direct relation to cost effectiveness, the use of on-board “modules” was dismissed in favour of more discrete components to achieve high noise immunity across the voltage and temperature range. This resulted in both 3.3V and 5-volt supplies being used and a system capability of an operational temperature of -20°C to +70°C. System cooling was taken care of by use of a heat conductor/spreader to dissipate heat from the on-board components via the device metal enclosure.
The final design was verified by running a burn-in test whilst temperature cycling within BVM’s in-house temperature chamber facility. The results were verified by checking the CPU core temperature whilst ensuring there was no throttling of the CPU clock. Analogue and digital I/O was verified with a test routine that monitored the spread of reading to ensure that noise was below acceptance levels.
The final design format was submitted to BVM’s approvals house partner and certified to UKCA, CE and FCC standards to facilitate global sales of the device.
A compact IoT gateway device, capable of application monitoring for remote infield installs for transmission and recording of data was produced. Additionally, it complied to our clients stringent marketing requirements, with corporate colours, decals and general branding applied. Our clients own independent testing regime, indicated that the new design surpassed performance requirements and long-term application testing confirmed the device’s reliability. This has been reflected via field sales of in excess of 1,500 units to date.
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