We understand the confidential nature of many projects and the importance of treating confidential information appropriately. We fully realise that mishandling such confidences would be detrimental to our business. As such, we are happy to a sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) prior to discussing confidential information with you.
We recommend you work with an electronics design with the following qualities
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- Our engineers have significant experience in the field of electronics and commercialisation.
- Some of our senior engineers have 30 years experience.
- Access to specialised skill set
- Speed to market: the key to many successful electronics products.
- Ready today – no need to hire, fire, inspire, purchase equipment, set up processes, manage a design team and so on
- Our experience means we can develop products quickly where, often, development teams need to make a lot of expensive mistakes before becoming proficient.
- Risk – lowered due to our experience
- Peace of mind – know you’re working with experts in the field.
- Access to more technologies, ideas etc – we’re developing products every day so we’re aware of current technologies.
- Cost – no set-up overheads, variable cost base, lowering risk so cost more known, leveraging proficiency
- Focus – dedicated team ready to develop your product, external party helps bring discipline to the product development process
- Access to tax concessions & government grants, many of which are limited to using an external party
- Flexibility – access to a team that can ramp up or down capacity quickly, as opposed to using a static internal team with fixed overheads, and also, access to a wide range of specialist expertise (only when required)
- Third- party validation
- Not being told about the true costs of product development upfront – you may start down a path you can’t afford to finish
- Resource problems – not having the capacity to give your project due skill, care and attention
- Not listening to your needs and context, developing a product that does not suit your requirements
- Not designing for manufacture and testing
- Poor project management
- Poor communication – not being kept informed
It depends. However, without a doubt, we have often seen our team deliver on projects for an overall budget well less than the true costs of running an internal team. As such, we are convinced it is a cost-effective option. Also, this is not considering the set-up costs associated with establishing a team.
- Quality – in our experience, lower cost options often do not result in a quality design outcome.
- Communication – language, time zone, ease of meeting/calls, documentation, understanding of local design context and so on …
- Accountability – we’ll be here tomorrow, come and visit us, meet our team.
- True cost – often, a low-cost design option “looks cheap” but there can be many costs down the track on both the design and business front (returns, brand damage, lost sales and so on).
- Management overheads – typically, offshore teams require significant management overheads (often due to the above issues). In fact, we have been engaged by certain clients simply to manage offshore resources.
- Associated services – PCB and firmware/software design is only a subset of product development. It’s a multifaceted undertaking and there are many opportunities for the right team to add value along the way. We often act like your own R&D team with a CTO reporting not just the details but also acting at a strategic level.
- Relationship – we always seek to build a strong relationship with our clients.
- Cost – as above (sometimes it can be cheaper)
- Focus – sometimes, internal resources can be sideswiped by many other internal distractions; whereas, an external party can bring focus and immediate execution to a project that may otherwise be difficult to get off the ground.
- Experience/specialist skill set – while it may be possible to ramp up internal resources in specialist areas, this may not be in line with your company’s core competencies and strategic goals, and/or it may take too long to do so.
- Resource limitations – your internal team may literally be busy on other projects.
- Speed – we develop new products every day; we have the equipment, relationships, processes and experience needed to develop products proficiently.
Cost of Projects
LX quote process takes the following into account:
- What your project is
- What your project’s overall needs are
- How much of the project LX will be doing, and how much, (if any) you will be able to do internally
From this information, there are roughly two scenarios for quotes:
- Those that already have a defined project and formal specification. In this case, LX can usually give you a quote fairly quickly.
- Those who are at the concept stage of a project. In this case, LX will work with you to help scope the project in order to create a quote.
The next step is to organise a convenient time for a meeting or teleconference between you and LX. LX generally provides 3 levels of quotes:
- ROM (Rough Order of Magnitude)
This is so that LX can provide a rough idea of cost quickly, and then ensure that adequate scoping is undertaken if the project is viable.
- Each project is different, depending on the services required. LX provides a wide range of services, from simple rapid prototyping services to comprehensive full turnkey service.
- Cost is generally estimated at the scoping stage when the project is defined.
- To get a ROM (Rough Order of Magnitude) for the project’s estimated cost, contact LX by email or phone.
- LX has proven itself to be competitive when compared with other electronics design companies.
- LX is always conscious of client needs. If budget is a constraining factor, LX will think of creative ways to maximise effectiveness while working within your budget.
- Unit cost varies from, and within, projects and includes several factors
- Key driving considerations for unit cost are functionality, market expectations and quantity.
- Contact LX now. We can discuss your project, and give you a fast and competitive estimate quote
- LX can work with you under either method of quoting*.
- Estimated Total Price Quote
- LX can provide either an estimated total price quote based on client’s specification or develop a specification for quoting. At this stage, it is important the project is well specified, including deliverables, scope, timeframe, etc., in order to create an accurate as possible estimated total price quote.
- Time and Materials Quotes
- Work on an hourly basis
- No specification required
- Best suited for high-risk projects, research, difficult-to-specify projects, (when it’s difficult to be able to estimate upfront how long the project will take), urgent projects (when there’s not enough time to go through the formalities of developing a specification and quoting), or low-budget projects (again due to fewer formalities of developing a specification).
- This method is also great for consulting work; for example, if you want an engineering resource to complement your team; an LX engineer can work with your team.
- Often, clients prefer to pre-approve blocks of hours, that is, only approved time will be used, and LX will notify the client in advance when a block of hours is nearing completion. This gives the client close control of how much time is spent on the project.
* Please note that LX will always endeavour to provide the most accurate quote possible with the available information at the time. However, as there are many factors beyond LX control, please be aware that this may affect the overall cost.
- Information required for a quote depends on the size of the project, the nature of the project, and the nature of engagement.
- Some clients approach LX with just a high-level requirement or concept, while others provide a detailed technical specification. LX has experience with both scenarios and everything in-between.
- Email or phone LX to discuss information required for quoting.
Registered tax registry (RRA) for R&D tax concessions will be offered in 2011.
- Yes, we most certainly can.
- LX has assisted many clients with the application of grants in varying degrees from an informal discussion through to completing the application. It is important to note that the acceptance of grant applications depends on the alignment between the submission and the grant criteria.
- Our team of advisors has significant experience in applying for various grants, including government and private grants.
- Yes, we can.
- Raising investment is a multi-faceted activity. LX can assist in areas such as:
- Business plan development
- Proof of concept prototype development
- Introduction to investors and seed capital investor networks
- IP landscaping and securing IP
- LX has good relationships with several investors who are actively looking for new technology start-ups. If the client approves, LX can provide an introduction. Naturally, there is a screening process prior to this introduction.
- LX can assist in securing pre-sales and applying for grants, as discussed in the previous question.
- Yes, we can.
- We can help in all areas, including:
- Feasibility study & research
- Technology consulting
- Setting up a business (registering a company, introduction to lawyers, accountants, etc., setting up a website, etc.)
- Business plan development
- Market research
- Market validation
- Costing estimates
- IP landscaping and securing IP
Yes, LX can assess your project’s needs and formulate a solution based on these that provides the best outcome, given your budget constraints.
Time Frame of Projects
If your project is urgent, we may be able to speed up the project by the following methods:
- Ensuring we have all the information we need
- Approving development time in advance so we can schedule in the work optimally
- Responding to any questions or requests for information promptly
- Working with LX Group to manage ‘feature creep’ and changes appropriately
The main difference between local prices and offshore prices in manufacturing is the labour cost.
- Ultimately, it’s what suits the client, Manufacturing can be done offshore, locally or internally.
- We have strong relationships with manufacturing partners in Australia.
- For low unit cost and high runs, the best option is offshore. LX has relationships with manufacturers offshore.
- For projects that require fast turnaround and low volumes, we have facilities to manufacture internally.
- LX can segregate hardware and firmware by programming the devices in-house.
- We can segregate hardware and enclosure manufacture so the manufacturers don’t have the whole unit. Final assembly can be done in-house or locally, where necessary.
- All manufacturing partners sign NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreement) with LX.
We can either do it in-house or coordinate it, if required.
- Yes, either locally, offshore or in-house
- Please call us or send through your design files.
1 unit. Naturally, it becomes cheaper as more units are manufactured
As we generally engage external factories to manufacture high volumes, our capacity is expandable depending upon client needs.
LX estimates the following prototype manufacturing times:
- For certain designs, we can manufacture a prototype within a day.
- For most designs, we can have assembled PCBs within 3-5 days.
- Typical lead times are a 1-3 weeks. However, this can increase with more complex prototypes.
- Lead time items and expedite fees may apply for fast turnaround services.
- Yes, we do.
- Test jigs may either be simple and limited or fully automated.
- To reduce the ongoing costs of programming and unit testing.
- Unit testing is required for ensuring unit quality.
Automated test jigs reduce the cost of this testing by lowering the labour input and by allowing a non-skilled person to perform advanced testing.
Standards and Certifications
- Generally, there are standards and certifications that apply to the sale of an electronic device.
- It is important the client and/or design house understand the relevant certifications and standards for the product that is being developed to ensure compliance.
- Standards and certifications vary depending on:
- The geographical location of sale and/or manufacture
- The industry the device is operating in
- The nature of the device itself (e.g. battery-powered vs. 240v)
- And other factors
- Examples of certifications and standards include:
- C-Tick, FCC, CE
- ISO13485 (medical)
- Intrinsically safe design (mining)– IECEx 60079
- AS/NZS60950-1:2003 – Information technology Equipment
- AS/NZS60065 – Home electronics
- AS/NZS3100 – General safety
- AS/NZS 3820 – Low voltage devices
- AS60529/EN60529 – Ingress protection
- UL Underwriters Laboratories Inc – US
- ETL – U.S. and Canada
- ETL – EU Mark for Europe
- S Mark – Europe
- GS Mark – Germany
- ASTA Diamond Mark
- BEAB – Europe
- CCC – China
- NOM – Mexico
- IRAM – Argentina
As this is very project-specific, please call or email us to discuss your project. We can usually provide general guidance over the phone, but investigation may be warranted to unpack this question fully.
It varies depending on the product, the number of devices, ease of simulation of the device, the nature of the product and other factors. Please email or phone us for further information.
- Certain tests can be done internally. LX can coordinate the other tests using trusted organisations.
- LX Group can generally perform C-tick testing in-house and pre-compliance for CE & FCC testing in-house
- How long does it take?
Approximate estimated timeframes are (assuming no resubmission):
C-Tick only: 1 week
CE/FCC pre compliance: 1 week
CE/FCC compliance: 3 weeks
- Yes, we often do this with clients
- As a contractor/consultant, it’s important for LX to be able to fit within our client’s processes.
- When appropriate, we step out of our internal PM system in order to fit in with yours.
- Project management is a core element of projects to ensure they are delivered on time and to specification. In this sense, it’s necessary for all projects.
- If and when appropriate, we reduce the project management component of a project for rapid prototypes.
- If LX commences a turnkey project, LX manages the project. This is to ensure we deliver it on time, on scope and on budget.
- With time and materials arrangements, we’re able to offer an arrangement in which the client undertakes project management. The engineer(s) works closely with the client & the client manages the project. This can be cost-effective, especially if the client is managing a team of engineers internally and our engineer(s) forms an addition to their team. The client may already have the PM overheads and capabilities and just need additional engineering resources.
- Yes, LX has extensive experience in turn-key services.
- LX is flexible in the way we work with clients, from undertaking a small part of the project through to a complete turnkey service, covering all facets of the project.
- This can include overseeing and managing
QA: Quality Assurance Systems
- Our processes are based on ISO9001
- Formal documentation processes
- Formal project management processes
- Formal peer review processes
- Formal testing processes
- Formal change request management
- Trusted partners and suppliers
- LX Group does research, and investigates and trials electronics manufacturers.
- LX put processes in place to verify quality throughout the manufacturing process, such as:
- Automated test jigs
- Stress testing
- Visual inspections
- Random sample unit testing
- Where necessary, we control procurement and inventory management.
Team LX Services
Team LX, has an extensive list of services & skills, and we are adding to them, all the time. Below is a list of some of these, and it’s by no means exhaustive.
|LX Group SERVICES & SKILLS|
|Wireless & embedded system development||Project management|
|Full turnkey design solutions||Programmable logic|
|Prototyping & rapid prototyping||Embedded web interfaces|
|Conceptual Development||Custom wireless networks and stacks|
|Industrial Design||DSP and general signal processing|
|Hardware, Firmware & Software Design||Control system design, analysis and implementation|
|FPGA Design||Distributed control systems|
|Research services||Colour graphical LCD display technologies|
|Test, verification & certification||Li-Poly battery charging and monitoring systems|
|Commercialisation assistance||Flexible PCBs|
|Grant application assistance||iPhone applications|
|Electronics manufacturing||Custom iPhone interface modules|
|Engineering consultancy||GSM, 3G, NextG applications|
|In-house SMD production facilities||iRDA communications|
|Custom RF design and layout||Solid state relay control|
|Industrial design integration||Piezo Pneumatic valve control|
|Layout miniaturisation||Short-range wireless power transmission|
|Matlab/Simulink modelling||RFID applications|
|Mechatronics||Wired industrial communications buses|
|BOM optimisation||Motor control|
I am not sure I understand the difference between software and firmware. Does an electronics project need both?
- Not necessarily, firmware/embedded software typically refers to the ‘software’ in an embedded device (a product that has a microcontroller). Even many devices such as toasters have firmware.
- Software often refers to an application that may run on a PC, mobile device, or other systems
- Products may require firmware, software, or both, depending on the application.
- Yes, we can.
- LX can complete all or part of the hardware design process
- LX can review schematics, undertake PCB layout, etc.
Can LX take on specialist hardware design such as Low-noise analogue, High speed digital, RF, Ultra low power?
Yes, LX has extensive experience in completing designs that include these aspects.
LX uses Altium Designer formally known as Protel. However, we can also import, export and convert to other formats, such as Eagle, OrCad, Cadence, Pads and other packages.
- Firmware refers to the software of embedded processors and/or logic gates, such as CPLD’s and FPGA’s.
- Firmware is often written in C, assembly and other languages. Examples of other languages for microcontroller firmware include Ada, C++, embedded BASIC, Objective C, etc. Primary hardware description languages (i.e. for CPLD/FPGA development) are VHDL and Verilog.
Various development methodologies are available, depending on customer requirements, the size of the team deployed and the size of the project. Example methodologies include Waterfall, Incremental and Agile (XP, Scrum, etc). We can write to MISRA guidelines – MISRA-C:2004, MISRA C++:2008
Internally we use/have used several source control products including Subversion, Perforce, Surround SCM and Visual Source Safe.
We are able to develop firmware in various languages including C, assembly language (various targets), C++ (including frameworks such as WX Widgets, QT as well as STL and MFC), C#, Python, Visual Basic, Java, Objective C, Delphi, AHDL, VHDL, Verilog, LabVIEW, as well as various scripting, markup and scientific/mathematical languages.
- Yes, we do.
- iPhone, Android and other mobile platforms have become a revolutionary interface for many electronic devices. As such, we have embraced these technologies as an exceptionally useful tool, enabling advanced user interfaces at low cost.
- Many electronic devices need to be able to interface with a PC and application software. We have extensive experience in developing applications that have simple interfaces, such as USB to serial converters through to devices that require standard USB profiles and custom device drivers.
C++, C#/.NET, Silverlight, WPF, HTML, Visual Basic, Ruby, Python, and many more
Industrial design is the process of choosing/designing an enclosure for the electronics of a product. This is an extremely important part of product development, as it needs to take into account many factors, including operating conditions, legal standards and aesthetic appeal. Product enclosures vary greatly in cost and include off-the-shelf, semi-customised and fully customised.
- As an organisation, we like to work within our strengths and engage experts in their field in all aspects of product development. Industrial design is one such instance.
- We work closely with industrial designers to provide our clients with the best outcome. We can either engage an industrial designer on your behalf or provide an introduction.
- Yes, we do outsource off-the-shelf enclosures.
- Off-the-shelf enclosures are lower cost initially, as there is no upfront design cost. This can be useful for low volume or prototype units. LX Group can assist with sourcing off-the-shelf enclosures, modifying, labeling, etc.
- Much more application-appropriate design
- Much greater aesthetic appeal which helps with branding and market uptake
- Yes, we can liaise with an industrial designer.
- We understand clients may have preferred suppliers and existing relationships, or the capabilities in-house. We always strive to create good working relationships with all suppliers and fellow designers. We understand this is important to our clients and we welcome the opportunity to work with a variety of industrial designers and other existing specialists or team members.
Our core competency is in rapidly ramping up in the design context and needs of various clients. From our experience, we can quickly port our knowledge to many different design contexts. However, we are always upfront if we have any significant concerns regarding a new project or industry.
Yes. We have done this many times in the past. Often the process is the same, although the specifics are different.
- Wireless technologies, such as ZigBee, Bluetooth, ANT, WiFi, HSDPA We’re assuming other technologies are stock standard. USB, Ethernet, analog, high speed digital amongst a few and are not limited to this.
- We continually learn new technologies to stay ahead of the game.
Not a problem. One of our key strengths is to quickly and proficiently ramp up in new key technologies – it’s something we have to do regularly. In fact, we really embrace new key technologies because it adds to our skill set.
- If you don’t know, just ask us.
- We are well positioned to advise here as we’re across so many different technologies.
Generally on a fee for service project, the client owns the Intellectual Property for their specific project. We discuss this with each client at the beginning of a project.
Yes, we have good working relationships with trusted patent attorneys. Don’t hesitate to contact us for an introduction.
Yes. We have significant experience in this area. Often, people only think of engaging a patent attorney when considering a patent application. However, this is only a part of the equation – the other part is considering various technologies and implementation variants to help strengthen a patent application.
We like to focus on our strengths and engage experts where needed. LX can perform initial patent searches and basic interpretation; however, we strongly recommend using a patent attorney for more advanced searching and interpretation of patents.
Needless to say, we are committed to keeping our integrity. LX exists to help people develop products – that’s our passion. Besides our assurances, an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) can be signed at the beginning of a project to ensure confidentiality.
A proof-of-concept prototype is a prototype that is aligned with key objectives. It can be useful for proving a market, establishing technical feasibility, assisting in obtaining pre-sales agreements, investment, internal management approval or government grants. It can often be designed at a fraction of the cost and time of developing a commercial product. A proof-of-concept prototype isn’t intended to be a commercial product or one suitable for sale.
This depends significantly on the project and requirements of the prototype. A proof-of-concept prototype can often be developed in less time that it takes to develop an alpha prototype. Factors such as the complexity of the project, budget, purpose of the prototype, etc., can influence the timeframe required. For more project-specific information, please call or email LX we can discuss your prototype requirements further and suggest an approach that is best suited to your development needs.
- Proof-of-concept prototypes are very different from alpha and beta prototypes and pre-production, which are all iterations of the commercial product development process.
- An alpha prototype is the first iteration of the commercial product. It is designed to meet the specification and acceptance test plan; however, as it’s the first iteration, it is likely to need modifications. An alpha prototype is useful for design feedback, user trials, market validation, etc.
A beta prototype is the next iteration of the commercial product. It incorporates modifications identified from the alpha prototype. It’s useful for compliance and other testing, as well as further market and user validation.
Pre-production prototypes incorporate modifications identified in the beta phase to produce a product that would be suitable for volume production. The pre-production prototype phase includes factory set-up, test-jig verification and assessing manufacturer quality to ensure any issues in volume production are identified in a relatively small, contained production run prior to high volume production.
The purpose of a prototype is for achieving certain objectives, such as raising funds or acting as interim stages in the development process. A commercial product is certified, i.e., has undergone appropriate testing, verification and validation.
It depends on the project. Once LX has an understanding of your project, we can advise on this. Please call or email to arrange a time to meet to discuss your project.
- When you don’t know what needs to be made.
- If you don’t know if it’s possible to make what you want to make.
- When there are several ways of implementing a solution to your design and you don’t know the best way of designing it.
- When you truly want to come up with something innovative.
- When high-risk elements of a project have been identified or are expected to be present.
- When you want to know what else is on the market that may be similar to your idea.
- When you don’t know what needs to be made:
- You might make the wrong product
- You might invest a lot of money developing something that isn’t quite right.
- If you don’t know if it’s possible to make what you want to make:
- It’s difficult to design something when it’s unsure how to progress.
- It’s important in this case to invest in a feasibility study to ensure you don’t invest a lot of money into something that isn’t actually possible.
- When there are several ways of implementing a solution to your design and you don’t know the best way of designing it:
- To ensure when you actually spend the larger amount of money on the design that it is aimed in the most appropriate direction.
- When you truly want to come up with something innovative:
- Sometimes innovative things come out of the design process.
- Other times innovation isn’t important – it’s better to design the product quickly and efficiently.
- However, when the client’s need is to develop something innovative in a certain area, to help them increase or maintain market share (or for some other reason), it is appropriate to spend time researching areas for developing an innovative product or aspect of a product.
- When high-risk elements of a project have been identified or are expected to be present:
- In certain situations, it is obvious that a project is low risk and there are no or few aspects that present technical or other risks.
- However, when they are identified, research is one means by which these risks can be addressed and minimised prior to engaging in the design process.
Yes, this is an important part of the engineering and product development process.
Yes, we can provide engineering consulting services on a time and materials basis.
Yes, this is essentially what we do every day.
- If appropriate, this can be a very effective way of developing a proof-of-concept prototype, which can be useful for market validation and securing pre-sales, investment, government grants and internal management approvals.
Yes, we are very flexible and work with clients to meet their needs. This includes the flexibility to undertake any part of a project from acting as a consultant through to complete turnkey development.
- Product life cycle management
- End-of-life design
- Modifications to the existing design
- End user support
- Product road mapping
- Technology shift identification
Generally, there is a monthly fee that includes a certain number of hours of support. Additional hours are billed on a time and materials basis.
- To maintain market share and ensure continued sustainability of your product, the following factors should be addressed. LX can assist in this support:
- Product life cycle management
- End-of-life design
- Modifications to the existing design
- End user support
- Product road mapping
- Technology shift identification
According to ISO 31000, risk management is the identification, assessment, and prioritisation of risks, followed by coordinated and economical application of resources to minimise, monitor, and control the probability and/or impact of unfortunate event or to maximise the realisation of opportunities.
Rarely can all risk be eliminated. The key issue is about managing the risk as opposed to elimination of all risks.
- Technical difficulty
- Time constraints
- Tight budgetary constraints
- Technical uncertainty
- Conflicting requirements
- Poor direction and specification of project
- Risk assessment at project kickoff
- Undertaking technical feasibility studies when required
- Ensure clear specification upfront as much as possible
- Identify conflicting requirements upfront as much as possible
- Tight PM with tight time constraints
- Appropriate management of PM and senior engineering resources
- Breaking the project down into discrete sections and addressing high-risk components appropriately
Yes, we have worked with a variety of inventors, entrepreneurs and technology start-up companies. We enjoy this work and are committed to helping them obtain the best outcome we can.
LX has had the privilege of working with many talented clients over the years.
Yes, a large number of our clients engage us remotely. As such, we have tools in place to facilitate this.
- Skype/video conferencing
- Online shared work areas
- Weekly reports and updates
- Online project management tools
It’s naturally more challenging to build relationships remotely. However, there are advantages to it, as well. It often encourages and highlights the importance of clear communication and specifications.
Yes. We have worked with clients where we have identified additional opportunities they had not otherwise thought of that helped them lower costs and increase profits.
We just need to gain an understanding of your business. We can then apply our knowledge of technologies to identify potential areas and opportunities in which technology can be used to lower your costs and increase your profits.
Quality vs. Time
Yes, we have very experienced engineers and quality management systems. We genuinely care about our work and can develop high-quality solutions that meet your needs.
Yes, we seek to understand our client’s specific needs. We appreciate that cost can often be a constraining factor, and we can develop a solution that provides the greatest results for a given budget. We understand that the best solution is not always the most technical solution.
We seek to understand the needs of our clients, including their quality, time and budgetary needs. We seek to develop a solution around these needs that obtains the best outcome for their requirement. It is possible that clients have unrealistic or conflicting requirements. We seek to identify if this is the case and address it with the client as early as possible.