This client designs and manufactures illuminated roadside warning signs. Each unit requires a large PCB to control its operation. The issue was that the high number of variants and unknown demand made it very expensive to build custom PCBs for each one. A ‘configurable’ system was required where operations could be adapted from a core design at short notice but with no loss of quality.
The original idea was to produce a series of modular PCBs to allow for orders to be assembled from a pre-stocked library. However, forecast volumes were not realised and the number of variants requested were far higher than predicted. This method proved to be uneconomic. Our challenge was to find a way to make the product in small volumes with high customisation to allow the client to make low-cost changes and repairs when needed.
After trialling several potential methods, including a series of smaller, simpler PCBs that could be easily changed on-site without any tooling costs, the eventual choice was a series of linked cable assemblies that could be plugged directly onto the legs of the LEDs. As LEDs are designed to be soldered directly into a PCB and not to plug into a mating connector, we carried out extensive tests to find the perfect mix of components in terms of brightness, retention once mated and the integrity of the electrical connection.
The outcome was a series of traffic signs that were low cost, customisable at short notice, repeatable, testable, fit for purpose and, most importantly, made our customer very happy.