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Custom Core Development

Our adaptable platforms are usually a good start when you are looking for an air & gas sensor, but even if you have needs beyond that, we might still be able to help you. Under a mutually confidential agreement, we can openly evaluate possibilities, find the optimum solution and how to finance the work. Under each title, you will find different levels of development and some good examples from the real world. 

 

What the development process might look like: 

1. Help us understand your application
Describe your application and specific requirements as well as environmental conditions. Sketches or photos of the intended sensor integration in your system are helpful.

2. We examine the possibilities
Senseair starts a selection of suitable solutions for your gas sensing need and contacts you with a proposal of the different options.

3. Let’s meet!
In a personal meeting, we discuss different solutions and options (e.g. Sensor Core, Sensor onBoard and Sensor inCase) and determine the best way forward. We encourage you to visit our development & manufacturing site for a better understanding of our technology and production capacity.

4. Together, we plan
Together, we develop a timeline for the realisation of your product. The plan includes all testing and your product approval for the first production run, and, if required, external certification. We agree on the business case, how we can share risks and manage costs.

5. Let’s get this done
We design the new product and perform tests to ensure successful implementation. The product will be released after your inspection and approval.

6. We start production
After approvals, we start the first production run. We monitor the volume ramp-up and request your continuous feedback on product quality and delivery performance.

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Minor hardware change

Together, we find the optimum solution, as well as the financial frames. We also evaluate risks and decide which standards and tests that must be fulfilled.

Normally, the implementation of a hardware change includes hardware engineers as well as staff from the production, quality, and test departments. Typically, electromagnetic compatibility and measurement accuracy must be tested in our in-house labs. The experience of our design- and quality teams must be joined in order to fulfil the standards applicable for certain applications and customer segments. We have the experience to work with medical as well as automotive applications.

 

Example

A customer wanted a different footprint of our sensor in order to fit a certain package. Together, we found that the most economical solution was to adapt our sensor PCB to fit the customer’s housing.

In order to save time and get a quick start, the design team of Senseair visited the customer to set up technical as well as financial constraints. The customer paid 25,000 USD for the engineering and the rest was covered by Senseair. Later on, 2 USD is added to the price of each sensor for the initial period of two years. 

The hardware and production teams at Senseair implemented the hardware change and put it into production. The quality standard of the customer was fulfilled by providing a DFMEA (risk analysis of failure modes) and ESD tests (resistance to electrostatic discharge). The customer also made a quality audit at our production facility, to ensure that we live up to their high supplier quality requirements.

Senseair also developed a customer-specific delivery package with the customer’s brand.

The time span from the meeting at the customer’s facility to first shipment was 6 months.

Adaption

Many applications can be served by simple adaptions of the functions that are already implemented in the sensors. Such adaptations can be realised without any additional release tests and administration since it was already covered in the initial product release. 

Together, we will find out the most efficient way to adjust our sensors to your application and your need at a minimum cost. One of our design engineers will perform the product change within the limits of the sensor and check that the sensor still operates within its tested and specified range.

 

Example

A customer wanted to optimise the ventilation in subway trains using closed-loop control of carbon dioxide. Normally, the automatic calibration that compensates for sensor drift operate on an 8-day period, since most office buildings have a one week cycle in population, but subway trains operate every day of the week. Instead, they are taken out for maintenance once a day. Hence, our customer needed a 48-hour period for automatic drift correction.

The time change, as well as a new maximum rate for drift compensation, was implemented by one of our own software engineers. The change was also found to be within the normal operation of the sensor.

Since it was a minor adaption and the customer agreed to buy a certain volume, there was no additional cost for the customer.   

Firmware upgrade

Our sensor hardware is highly configurable. By preparing customer adapted programs for the built-in microcontroller, so-called firmware, many new application requirements can be fulfilled. A firmware change is somewhat different compared to a minor adaptation. The minor adaptation only allows for customer specific changes of settings within the already specified and tested range of operation.

A firmware change always includes involvement of the firmware programmer as well as other experts that can validate the overall risks and consequences on a system level. For instance, hardware designers will judge if the hardware will operate in a reliable mode. Furthermore, it is normal that the calibration engineers have to be involved in order to re-design the calibration to fit the new firmware.

 

Depending on the risks involved in the firmware change, tests will be performed and sufficient documentation provided in order to guarantee the proper quality level.   

 

Example

A globally active customer with a Chinese development office contacted the local Senseair sales office in China with a request for a carbon dioxide sensor. It was found that the Senseair standard sensors did not fully comply with their power constraints. 

The solution was to increase the time interval between the measurement cycles from 2 seconds to 10 seconds, which should reduce power consumption almost 5 times.

The project management communicated with the customer mainly through e-mails and phone conferences, since we were spread out over three countries on two continents. The sensor expert team at Senseair identified that the change also affected the automatic drift compensation algorithm and the calibration behaviour since the IR light source operates in a different mode. A firmware engineer implemented the changes in the sensor microcontroller program. The calibration procedure was adjusted and tests were performed in order to guarantee full performance within the specified operating conditions.

At the end of the project, representatives from the European office performed a quality audit at Senseair in Sweden in order to qualify us as a supplier. The time from the contact with our Chinese office to start of production was 12 months. Since the goal of this development was in perfect agreement with the strategic plan, it was fully financed by Senseair.

New gas

Non-dispersive infrared technology dominates low-cost and high-reliability sensing of carbon dioxide. The technology can utilise drift compensation and thus be fully maintenance-free with maintained high accuracy for more than 15 years. Compared to other technologies, it is highly accurate, cannot be poisonous, and does not suffer from cross-sensitivity.

These benefits can also be utilised for other gases. Our spectroscopy scientists can investigate your needs and simulate tradeoffs between resolution, accuracy and cross-sensitivity. They will also help to select a suitable light source, detector technology, IR-filter characteristics and optical path arrangements. We have previous experience from a wide range of gases, such as nitrous oxide, ozone, methane and a wide range of other hydrocarbons, different refrigerants (freons), ammonia, ethanol, carbon monoxide, and water vapour.

 

After the spectroscopy team have made a design, the optical filters are ordered and proof-of-concept prototypes are built and evaluated. After the prototype evaluation is finished the product development process, similar to standard development, will take place. Here the lead times for filter production and calibration gas fabrication can be bottlenecks and is thus prioritized as early as possible in the project.

Also, the production process has to be re-considered as a new gas is approached since that gas must be handled in our production system. This does not only involve hardware change and adaption but also safety, quality and environmental aspects.  

 

Example

The Senseair sales office in the USA was contacted by a company working with air conditioning units. Another branch of that company has been a Senseair customer for a long period of time as an OEM producer using carbon dioxide sensors.

In order to develop more environmentally friendly air conditioning units, the refrigerant gas had to be replaced with one that was mildly flammable. In order to eliminate the risk of fire caused by leaking gas, a safety gas detector is preferred.

A project team was set up at Senseair and two of our technical experts met the customer together with the sales team in the USA. The spectroscopic behaviour of the gas and possible cross sensitivities was investigated by the research team. A design based on the low-cost module S8, with a custom-designed filter, was proposed for the specified application. Optical filters and calibration gas was ordered and prototypes were built.

Within six months from the start of the project, a set of prototypes had been shipped to the customer for evaluation in their research lab. The prototype development was fully financed by Senseair, since we have a long business relationship with this customer, know them well, and find strategic value in this business segment. 

Advanced research

Senseair has massive experience accumulated from 30 years in a world-leading position within low-cost infrared gas sensing. We have an experienced research group with doctors active in spectroscopy, electronics, optics, material science, electronics, production technology and micro engineering. We also have several important families of patents, knowledge, and IPs within infrared gas sensing that our customers benefit from. Furthermore, we have well-equipped lab facilities for optical, spectroscopic, and electrical science.

We have close collaborations with universities that are active both as users of our novel sensors and as suppliers of novel subcomponents for infrared gas sensors. We do also co-supervise several PhD students at Swedish universities in order to be up-to-date with the most recent technology.

 

A research project is normally paid per work hour and divided into sub-projects ranging between one and three years. How the cost is shared depends on the strategic value for Senseair as well as for the research partners. Sometimes the projects are co-funded by governments or other research funds.  

 

Example

An organisation in the USA is striving to improve acceptance of alco-lock sensors. They have an established cooperation with Senseair as well as other Swedish companies within the field of automotive safety. One key issue is to improve the detection limit of the sensor in order to minimise the inconvenience of the driver. 

A one-year project was formed with the goal to improve the resolution of the sensor by adjusting the optical setup, trimming the signal chain, improving signal stabilisation and switching key components. The budget for Senseair was 900,000 USD, and the project was closely coordinated with other partners that also improved driver convenience.   

The project is carried out in close cooperation with the financing organisation, resulting in a massive improvement of the detection limit. Scientists from the research department and sub-contractors are involved, as well as hardware-, software and test engineers. Also, close collaboration with several sub-suppliers is required in order to get the maximum gain from each critical sub-component. In-house designed optical test equipment has to be built and shipped to sub-suppliers for process optimisation. As of now, 200 sensor prototypes have been produced and shipped to the funding partner for further evaluation and field tests in the USA. 

The project also presented a pre-study showing how to further gain three times more, as well as the estimated effort to reach that. A new one-year research project, with new goals and a new budget, was formed. 

This sensor can now be found under our breath sensing product in automotive

Competence & tools

Design methodology:

Mechanical CAD SolidWorks
Electronics design PADS
SW design
Plastics design for injection moulding
Analogue and digital
Signal conditioning

 

Lab facilities:

Gas sensor characterisation
Environmental chambers (flammable and non-flammable gas, temperature, humidity) 
FTIR for gas, optical filters, reflection
Veeco surface profiler
Labview
Gas mixing systems
EMC test chamber

Quality assurance:

Lean production
Lean product development
ISO 9000 (certified)
ISO 14000 (certified)
TS 16949 
APQP
DFMEA

Special competence:

IR spectroscopy
IR-detector technology (thermopile, pyroelectric, solid-state, photoconductive)
IR light sources (incandescent lamp, MEMS, solid-state)
Optical filters 
Physical modelling
Surface physics
System modelling
Application design

University cooperation:

Cambridge University UK (environmental sensing)
KTH (MEMS and sensor technology)
KTH (production technology)
Mid Sweden University (sensor technology, detector research)
LSCE (environmental sensing)
Uppsala University (big data)

Advanced production technology:

Production equipment construction
High-volume semi-automated production line
Full traceability 

Approved supplier to:

Carrier 
Schneider
Honeywell
Siemens

Configure your own solution

There are three simple steps from Sensor Core to a finished inCase solution. Choose your adaptable platforms and add all the features you need.

1

Choose your Sensor Core platform

2

Add features to your Sensor onBoard

3

Design your Sensor inCase