AS9100 Certified Electrical Design Process

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At RightHand Technologies, we have developed hundreds of electronics products specifically tailored to our clients' exact specifications. The starting requirements are given to us in various formats from a concept on a whiteboard to a 300-page detailed requirements document. Our design services are AS9100:2009 certified, so we have a set of well-defined steps we follow to ensure that the final manufactured products exceed our customers' expectations. Our process is outlined below.

Hardware Requirements Specification

The development process for any project starts with the requirements. Some clients have a detailed list of all of the features the end product must have and functions it must perform and will start the project by presenting RightHand engineers with hundreds of pages of detailed requirements. In this case, our engineers will review the documentation and, after a few conference calls, proceed with the design.

Other clients have a more macro-level view of what they want to accomplish. In this case, RightHand engineers will work with the clients to develop a set of hardware requirements which will be reviewed with the clients so there is a clear understanding by all parties about how development should proceed.

System Architecture and Design

The next step is to create the system architecture and design for the electrical hardware elements of the project. The items used for this task are the requirements document and a block diagram. The system architecture and design tasks take the design to where specific hardware decisions and recommendations can be made. Sometimes, the project solution includes the use of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) units, either as a stand-alone solution, or as part of a larger system where COTS hardware is integrated with custom hardware. Other times, a custom printed circuit board (PCB) will be designed and fabricated to satisfy all the functional and size requirements.

Schematic Capture and Printed Circuit Board Design/Layout

Unlike many embedded electronics development companies, RightHand Technologies has degreed engineers with years of experience performing schematic capture and PCB layout functions. By applying engineering discipline and working in parallel, the functions of schematic capture and PCB layout have a shorter overall development schedule and a higher degree of design reliability.

RightHand Technologies engineers have the experience to take any circuit board design from inception to completion. We will take your requirements, hand drawing or other input file and capture a schematic in OrCAD, create footprints, place parts and route your board according to IPC and component manufacturers' recommended design specifications. We design all boards with manufacturability and testability in mind. Plus, we consider proper panelization and layer minimization to keep your manufacturing costs to a minimum.

The outputs of the schematic capture and PCB design steps may include schematics, routing documents, board layout, and bill of materials (BOM). We always implement to an electrical design standard - if the client has specific rules for design, we will follow them; otherwise we use our own internal design standard.

During electrical development, the block diagram, schematics and board layout will be reviewed with the customer to ensure that the hardware design meets the requirements and follows the electrical design standard.

Prototype Assembly

In prototype assembly, we take the approved hardware design and build up a small quantity of prototypes for testing and certification. Typically, we use quick-turn manufacturing to produce five to 20 units. The manufacturing group at RightHand Technologies oversees the purchasing of components and production of the boards. Completed circuit boards may be integrated with other custom boards, COM Express modules, or other COTS assemblies or components. If RightHand also provides the mechanical design for custom enclosures, thermal solutions, or connectors, the prototype assembly may require a mechanical step as well.

Board Bring-up, Design Verification, and Test

Board bring-up includes the integration of board support package (BSP) software with the completed PCB. The BSP comprises the low-level software including OS, driver, and low-level test code needed to test all of the hardware features on the board. If the PCB includes an FPGA, we also integrate the FPGA firmware at this step to ensure that the electronics elements in the design function correctly. The design verification and test includes the evaluation of all IO and hardware features, and any specific customer-required testing. Minor design changes or repairs may be needed to produce a functioning board. Changes affecting the design are captured in revisions of the design documents. Defects and issues are tracked in a log.

Agency Approval Support and Documentation

RightHand Technologies is extremely knowledgeable about what it takes to obtain difficult-to-achieve approvals from electronics oversight agencies. We design and document our hardware with certification requirements in mind. We have experience in achieving approvals from the following:

  • FAA (DO-254, DO-178 and DO-160)
  • DOD (MIL-STD-810, MIL-STD-461)
  • FCC
  • UL
  • CE

See Examples of Certified Projects for products developed by RightHand Technologies that have received difficult-to-achieve agency approvals.

When your product is ready to be submitted for approval, RightHand Technologies can oversee the application process and the formal testing. Our engineers know the standards, prepare the test plan and can guide the products through the entire approval process.

Transfer-to-Production Support and Documentation

Once the product has passed through the prototype testing phase and the rigors of certification testing to achieve agency approvals, it is finally ready for production. RightHand Technologies engineers will formally release final documentation, including BOMs, firmware, FPGA, BIOS, EEPROMs, and test procedures. RightHand Technologies' Specialized Manufacturing AS9100:2009 process ensures that the production units will use the same materials and procedures as the units certified. Our engineers prepare detailed Assembly and Test Instructions (ATIs), including test software and test fixtures, if required, and even participate in training the assembly personnel.