What is Electrical Engineering?

Theaters of Electrical Engineering in Embedded Hardware

The challenge in describing electrical engineering is that there are so many applications. When we talk about electrical engineering for embedded hardware product development, there are some touchstone stages in every electrical engineering process.

Electrical Engineering in Embedded Hardware

When we talk about the basics of electrical engineering we talk about repeatable fixed functions, custom programmable systems, soft flexible actions, or fully lights out integrated automation. Interfaces, drivers, PCBs (Printed Circuit Board), PLC’s, I/O module, gateways, controls, systems, protocols, and other industrial hardware options can bring futuristic supervision and command execution back to your manufacturing production processes. End-to-end scalable architecture links your information gathering field devices, automated machines, SCADA systems, and HMI to inform your business ventures and authentic profit increases. Your electrical engineer selects these components, integrates and creates machine schematics for the software team to control and the mechanical team to place and provide functions.

Schematic Design- Electrical engineering starts with outlining the circuitry, connections, and microcontrollers needed to complete your project in easy-to-understand schematics. This includes selecting parts that can support scaling the necessary requirements of your project into physical prototypes. A quality electrical or schematic engineer plans for substitution, adaptation, and opportunity for improvement. This leaves room to accommodate real world engineering challenges without losing time to market.

PCB Layout and Routing- This involves elegant placement and routing for all electronic components, circuitry, and logic elements on your printed circuit board specified during the schematic process. Your layout and routing plans for optimal signal integrity, heat dissipation, and manufacturability. Using Electronic Design Software, electrical engineers design for high level synthesis, simulate using mathematical models and CAD software, test with analysis verification, and prepare manufactured prototypes for function and safety. They work with customers to reach compliance with electromagnetic interference (EMI) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) application specific standards for custom PCB board design. 

Protocols- A project requires custom, proprietary, or open-source firmware communication transmission. Your electrical engineer integrates the necessary protocols into your hardware. Protocols sync device broadcasts with elegant efficiency, situational layer-based processing standards, input/output control, and synchronization of multiple network devices. A single project solution may involve multiple protocols.

Modular Hardware Design- For large scale production, integrating and managing a complete system of connected printed circuit boards requires modular hardware engineering. Modular hardware maintains the programming of automated projects and user-friendly communication with HMIs (Human Machine Interface) in a wide range of industries. Their designs use interchangeable parts that draw on a deep reserve of reusable premade custom modules and interconnected peripherals. Transposable architecture allows for cost effective swapping, testing, and upgrading of individual pieces of your hardware for swift and cost-effective delivery.

Real-time Operating System (RTOS) Focused Firmware- Digital Signal Processors digitize, translate, and manipulate imperceptible sights, sounds, and environmental factors for display, control, and informed process programming. A good firmware engineering team merges custom language requirements with proof-of-concept programming library. Good firmware supports quick turnaround on projects requiring bounded interrupt latency, strict priority rules, and optimal performance.

Embedded Systems- Electrical engineers utilize an array of integrated development environments (IDEs), related platforms, and debuggers to ensure best practices in embedded systems. Hardware design and testing leads to software development and verification before shipment. Electrical engineers construct a build environment to accommodate everything from AI controlled logistics to in house testing.

Connections- A skilled electrical engineering team designs communication devices capable of operating across multiple networks, across multiple machines, and capable of integrating with custom and preexisting hardware. These communications can come in wired and wireless connections. One COO can monitor and controls industrial systems across different facilities and national borders.

IOT Monitoring- Modern IOT product engineering enables custom monitoring and sensors for data driven AI analysis. This creates an interconnective environment using smart technology for everything from customizable human machine interface control to smart device control.

Single Source Electrical Engineering Advantages

Not everyone uses a vertically integrated team or has the infrastructure to support single source design and build. There are a lot of ways to approach electrical engineering on a project. But when you are talking about streamlining development for custom solutions, a vertically integrated team is best. Your electrical engineering team really needs direct communication with the embedded software engineers and the mechanical engineers. Maximizing long-term return on investment is hard to achieve if the team you pass the project along to is blind to the rest of the process. Getting your control cabinets connected to your machines involves a lot of scoping, risk, and minute operations. Below, we will detail critical engineering stages and where single source electrical engineering gives you the advantage.

Requirements Development- This phase is a project scope of work where the engineering team defines hardware requirements they will use for the design. Such requirements include communication protocols, onboard memory, power, I/O, and how the end customer will connect and use the product. Downstream team members can inform the logic of the project, plan based on cross team collaboration, and reach back at any time for design queries that will improve your engineering.

Electrical Schematics Generation- During this stage, the team uses the documentation from the development phase to generate detailed electrical drawings or schematics, indicating the intended connections amongst the circuitry components of the PCB. A vertically integrated electrical engineering team revises these schematics based on feedback and cross team planning. Customers of vertically integrated engineering teams know every discipline involved from beginning to end signed off before proceeding with modeling.

Layout/Routing for PCB Component– Part models and a PCB layout define the necessary internal and external electrical connections for the device. By transporting the models into the layout, the electrical engineering team determines power and signal needs, ideal placement of circuitry components, required mechanical features, and board size. Maintaining optimal performance means minimizing electromagnetic interference (EMI) concerns. When done correctly, your completed initial PCB design elegantly addresses the device’s connectivity needs. 

Rapid Prototyping- Rapid prototyping capabilities require swift PCB assembly. Whether your technology is in a product or an automated machine, concurrent cross team engineering shortens time to market. You will be able to evaluate the design in practice to confirm that your electrical device will meet your expectations. Simultaneously, our team will be designing firmware, executing component selection, and finalizing circuitry design for added efficiency. Keeping these stages in house supports effective electrical engineering without sacrificing speed.

Design for Manufacturing/Testing Checks- Design for manufacturing, or DFM, is the stage in which the engineering team ensures compatible final design with necessary manufacturing techniques, run size, and throughput. Device dependability must match performance in end application. A single source electrical engineering team has the capacity for design for testing (DFT) services. This mitigates risks in final checks for design requirements and functional deficiencies. When proceeding with manufacturing PCB at scale, consistency and institutional memory support a cohesive, cost-effective product. 

Enclosure Design- Enclosure design isn’t just about the Ingress Protection (IP) rating of your hardware. Enclosure design has to facilitate signaling, cabling, and networking. An enclosure is the sales forward shape, texture, and color of your branding. It has to facilitate user interaction, button placement, ergonomic stress mitigation. An enclosure includes electromechanical systems like grippers, hydraulics, and functionally motorized parts. Managing these elements requires cross discipline engineering, collaborative design, and cohesive product development.

PCB Manufacturing and Assembly- Choosing a single source partner for your PCB manufacturing means scaling to mass production. You want a partner that knows your product. You want the partner that intimately tested, designed, and developed your prototype to manage growing your line beyond small batch PCB assembly. You need the same cross collaborative engineering team planning that mass production in the earliest stage of your design. A single source PCB assembly facility in the USA protects your intellectual property and self incentivizes your quality by growing with you.

A single source cross collaborative engineering partner yields the best hardware products. Tell us more about your project, schedule a virtual meeting, or call (262)-622-6104 to learn how concurrent engineering discipline can make your ideal hardware solution.