ASIC Technology Enables 25% Motor Control Cost Reduction.
Technologies used

Analogue Power ASIC

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    31 Domestic Electrical Equipment
    29 Machinery, using motor controllers
SOMFY S.A. designs, manufactures and sells actuators and various accessories to move and control position of shading systems (solar screens & blinds) and closure systems (roller shutters). SOMFY sells its products world-wide to front building industry professional assemblers all over the world and is recognised as a world leader. SOMFY currently employs 789 people and has sales of 130 M Euro. The company's electronic engineering capabilities prior to the AE were based micro controller and radio technologies. All of SOMFY's motorised actuators incorporated an output rotation drive, a gear system, an induction AC motor and a switching system to control motor rotation. The market for automated building shading systems is expanding quickly, as the benefits to the customer in terms of using motorised instead of manual actuation methods, and the higher reliability and reduced maintenance costs of the automated systems become increasingly apparent. The objective of the application experiment was to improve the company's range of actuators to maintain its current market competitiveness and to capitalise on the market growth. The application experiment involved the use of an Analogue Power ASIC device technology to integrate the power switches and switching control circuitry so as to realise the following benefits:
· reduced cost and size of the actuators.
· reduced power requirements of the products.
· reduced installation and maintenance time and costs.
The original application experiment proposed completion of the ASIC development in 14 months. However, during the specification phase the subcontractor ST decided to use the ASIC device in its own business, and purchased the Intellectual Property Rights of the device from SOMFY by waiving the subcontractor development costs and offering SOMFY the device as a cheaper "off the shelf" component. The re-negotiation required an extra 2 months to warrant security of the company's product supply and exclusivity of the device in SOMFY's markets. The actual application experiment was therefore 16 months. The application experiment costs were 76.9 K Euros. This was significantly lower than the original budgeted costs of 130 K Euros as a result of the technical re-negotiation. The application experiment prototype development costs will be paid back in 4 months as a result of the increased profitability made possible by the use of the ASIC device. The Return on Investment (ROI) is estimated at 1000 % over the 3 year product life. The target specifications were reached; EMI and life tests were successfully performed under CE standards and the quality level of FU products met the expected requirements. This electronic switching control device has a low power dissipation, withstands the high voltage specified and provides the required reliability. SOMFY's experiences in contract management and the specification, design and test of power oriented ASICS offer best practice information for other potential users of the technology.
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Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

Analogue Power ASIC technology provided SOMFY with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
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Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.

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