One of the most fun parts of running a company that designs and manufactures LCD display modules is when customers come to us with a new product idea. But, this doesn’t mean the new design process is always easy. To ensure your design of LCD panels and displays is ideal,, you’ll need to also ensure you’re working with one of the top LCD manufacturers. Here are two of the key ways to accomplish this and develop the new product you’re eager to launch.
Design For Longevity
First, don’t get too focused on the performance specifications upfront. At the end of the day, they’re just numbers. Translating performance specs into your end users’ needs is what matters. So we always recommend starting with your needs in plain english terms first. Then you need your supplier to help you find and/or design the component that really works in your product. And then help you develop that specification around the end product’s performance needs, not the other way around. So before you go any further, take the time to find a partner who supports your product goals and creates your specs around your goals.
Once you have the right partner in place, they should be thinking about your product’s longevity as you move forward exploring and selecting specific components. The more experience they have in your specific field and with your type of products, the more aware they’ll be of industry trends and new options that might be available in six months or a year. They’ll also have a better sense of what subcomponents are likely to disappear during the lifespan of your product. Obsolescence is one of the major risks you face with industrial products, so the right supplier will help you design for obsolescence mitigation.
The availability of your subcomponents will also affect the way a supplier builds their parts for you. Like 95% of all LCD displays, we manufacture our displays in China, and sometimes a customer will specify a US connector to put on our display. It’s worth noting that, in practice, even these US connectors are usually built in China and imported to the United States. Then we have to source it domestically and ship it back to China. This is just one example but that little connector accumulates a lot of unnecessary cost (and miles) by going through so many layers of distribution. Plus, all that shipping becomes a point of vulnerability to delivery issues. Most of the time, there’s a local equivalent that’s as good or better, saving cost and significant component lead time.
We believe in supporting our customers long term, so we never obsolete anything we build as long as we can get the components for it. We try to steer our customers toward subcomponents with the greatest availability and longevity so we don’t wind up at the mercy of the market later on. A good supplier should always consider their own supply chain when they collaborate with you on a new design.
Prepare For Effective Collaboration
It’s easy to lose perspective during the design process. When you have so many details to keep track of, you have to constantly refer back to the concrete reality of how your product will look, feel and function in the real world. That’s why I advise display customers to use mock-ups from the beginning and samples or demos as soon as possible.
Also, a quick easy hack is to simply print your intended display content on paper first. It’s so easy to first create images of everything you want to include on a display—whether that’s text, alerts, a go/no-go button, or any graphical user interface that you envision for this product. Simply print it out on paper using the same colors and resolution that you’re working with in spec. Then literally tape it to your product, stand back, and look. You’ll learn a lot about the size and functionality without going through the effort and expense of tooling or producing prototypes.
After you’ve (hopefully) eliminated all the low-hanging fruit and are ready to see your components in action, talk to your supplier about whether they can provide you with basic samples or full demos. When you receive a sample, you still have to wire it up and figure out how to communicate with it. With a demo, your supplier can probably load the demo with images of your own content so all you need to do is supply power. Then you can walk around, look at it from different angles, and get a much better sense of how it will function inside your product.
Effective design comes from collaboration. You and your supplier need to cooperate and share ideas in order to uncover problems or misunderstandings and watch each other’s blind spots. The right supplier will give you many different tools to visualize and experience the way their component can enhance your end product.
Ready to forge a strong supplier relationship, and bring your new design idea to life? Give us a call!