Design Process

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Process driven for successful delivery

We know that DSL clients often have very demanding and challenging project objectives to meet relating to quality, cost and time. We will work either as a specialist extension of your development team, a multi-discipline collaborative partner or as a self-contained outsourced design and development team providing full-service capability.

They rely on us to play a key role in meeting these goals by making the design and delivery process as smooth and predictable as possible.

With over 25 years’ experience, we have developed a proven design process which fast tracks many of the time consuming stages, while delivering ‘right first time’ results.

The DSL design process in full

Step 1 – Requirements Definition

Projects begin with understanding your detailed engineering and business requirements. This may be pre-defined or generated in discussions with your DSL team.

Step 2 – Design Proposal (Outline)

The first step involves formally documenting the client’s requirements, encompassing their application, required electronic and mechanical specifications alongside relevant environmental and power aspects. These are formalised into our initial Design Proposal for client acceptability sign off and thus achieve mutual agreement of expectation at this earlier stage. See an example here

Step 3 – Design Proposal (Costs/Time-scales)

Once the specification is mutually approved, by harnessing our range of skills and experience we are able to provide you with accurate and realistic proposals for the complete design process at this early stage: Based on a detailed project plan, this will define our understanding of your requirements, estimate project costs and clarify the time-scales involved.

Step 4 - Project Plan

Once given the green light, your first deliverable is our detailed project plan, showing time-scales of each sub-phase of the project. As each key design stage is reached, a revised project plan is provided, though can be requested at any point during a project. Time-scales can fluctuate mid-project, shortened by more expedient than anticipated client approval, or lengthened by a mid-project change; time-scale impacts presented through our ECR (engineering change request) system and, assuming approval, reflected dynamically within the project plan. See an example here

Step 5 – Design Specification

The final specification provides a clear and concise description of the complete system design and its functionality, as well as how it will connect and interact with the ‘outside world’. See an example here

Step 6 - Schematic Design

Once agreed, we then design the board to the Design Specification, employing techniques to meet with client type approvals such as EMC emissions, temperature range, vibration, and circuit protection. Completed schematics are then sent for approval before moving to the board layout stage. See an example here

Step 7 - PCB Design

Our Design Engineers then proceed to the board layout stage and this addresses and specific physical parameters as highlighted within the Design Specification document. DSL typically provide a 3D CAD model, or interactive 3D PDF (note: Desktop Adobe PDF reader only), of the board to help clients visualise the final board layout.

Step 8 - Prototypes

Once the board design and layout are approved we are ready to manufacture the first batch of prototypes. Fast-turn build options are available for projects working to constrained timescales. Prototypes are evaluated with a thermal camera to identify any potential hot spots.

Step 9 - Environmental Testing

We work together with our clients to ensure the prototypes pass any environmental testing that is required. This can include EMC emissions, vibration, temperature and humidity as well as other industry specific standards, some of which can be undertaken in house at DSL.

Step 10 - Delivery of manufacturing pack

With prototypes approved our job is sometimes completed and we will provide all schematics in Altium format along with PCB artwork, a full BOM as well as any other documentation and IP. A post project review is undertaken to analyse project performance in line with our ISO9001 quality system – the client is invited in to review and discuss our findings.

Step 11 - Production Management

The production stage has many prerequisites vital to the on-going success of the project. These often includes management of software versions, assembly quality, system testing and component obsolescence. We can manage this entire process allowing the client to use their valuable resource on the competencies they are specialised in.