Whenever we design a motor controller, whether it’s a custom design for a specific customer or a new stock motor controller, we start by thinking of the application and the critical aspects of this. We work closely with our customers if it is a bespoke design or with a range of potential customers if it is a stock controller in order to understand the duty cycle, application specific information and a range of other factors all of which are relevant to making initial design choices.
In addition, we will always try to work closely with other stakeholders in the process involved in the development, for example motor manufacturers in order to understand any concerns they may have about the potential issues that are likely to arise with the project. If there are industry specific quality standards which need meeting then we will enlist the help of our testing and product assurance partners at this point in order to understand the requirements and how they will impact on the design work required.
Designing motor controllers that last is not just a question of using high powered over-specified components in order to ensure long life (although as you will see later this is also part of the process!). One of the key challenges is to ensure that the controller that is developed remains viable over the anticipated lifetime of the product.
With production runs running into 1000s of units a year it is always critical to ensure that there are no upcoming obsolescence orders on key components. We work closely with our component suppliers to ensure that this is not the case or that, where it might inevitably be the case, there are replacement parts which can be quickly incorporated into the design.
A further part of this thinking (which many of our customer’s don’t even know we’ve done) is that we spend some time going through everything we know about their specific application and thinking about what issues we might anticipate or what future additions they might well like to make. Of course, we would never add cost from doing this but we might open up options such as additional inputs or outputs which are available but not necessarily specified by the customer. This kind of thinking can significantly reduce costs and increase flexibility in the future.
All of our motor controllers are designed and manufactured using highly reputable sources of components and equipment. This is a deliberate choice in two senses. The first is that it enables us to make clear guarantees about our controllers, such as their RoHS and REACH compliance. The second is that we have no nasty surprises which can be caused by using offshore components and assembly processes which then turn out to be not exactly the right rating of capacitor or similar.
A further part of ensuring long lasting performance is perhaps the most obvious aspect. Selecting components which can comfortably handle the required power (especially current) for the specific application is ultimately critical.
We work with clear methodologies developed through our experience in the industry to ensure that all of our motor controllers are built with clear ‘headroom’ to ensure that all components can meet their required load. In the same way that you would not your hifi amplifier to be on full volume all of the time to deliver the volume you require, so too with a motor controller. We work hard to give you plenty of room to work.
The biggest enemy of electronics (aside from dirty water and iron filings) is heat. Too much heat will ultimately spike and result in blown components. However, overheating on a less dramatic but routine basis will lead to damaged components which will still perform but will become ineffective much faster.
In order to counter these issues we typically include heat sinking of all key components as standard. However, the most important part of thermal management of motor controllers is to work closely with the customer to understand their application and requirements before making a controller or design choice. By doing this we are able to solve these issues before they arise.
The last piece in the ‘long lasting motor controllers’ jigsaw is the quality management processes by which our motor controllers are produced.
By manufacturing all of our motor controllers under the AS9100 quality management process we know that they are manufactured to the highest possible standards in order to deliver long lasting and reliable performance.