High Performance Voltage Stabiliser
ASIC and Microcontroller Technology Lead to 25% Cost Reduction
Technologies used

Mixed Signal ASIC

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    31 Electric Motors, Generators & Tranformers
    321 Electronic valves & Tubes & Other Electronic Components
    322 Telegraph & Telephone Apparatus/Radio & Electronic Capital Goods
Advance Electronics is a manufacturer of electrical power conditioning equipment. The company's product range includes power conditioners; transformers; uninterruptable power supplies; inverters and DC power supplies.
The purpose of the Application Experiment (AE) was to incorporate microelectronics to replace heavy and expensive materials used in the traditional product of the company. This was achieved by designing a mixed-signal ASIC into the control and monitoring system of a voltage stabiliser.
Existing products have been constructed using conventional transformer wire winding, core assembly and vacuum impregnation technology. The main product constituents are copper and iron.
The product has reached the bottom of its potential cost reduction curve and is heavy to distribute into a global market. The AE was intended to provide a technology solution to the product need which was fundamentally lower in cost, smaller, lighter and hence less expensive to distribute. The AE will allow the company to maintain a growth curve in an ever more competitive market place.
The AE has improved its awareness and capability in using microelectronics. Analysis of the prototype product has shown a significant reduction in cost per VA, and this alone will give Advance Electronics a significant competitive edge.
Experience has shown that the semiconductor vendor selection process requires very special attention. Once selected there is very little flexibility in how the project is managed by the vendor or options for change if the development goals shift. Despite a number of deviations from the project plan, the experiment was successful and resulted in a viable product.
The application experiment development costs were 167 K ECU. Industrialisation costs were 43kECU, whilst the product marketing and launch costs were 15kECU. This takes the take the total cost of introducing the new product range to 225kECU. The payback period on the original 167 KECU development costs is 17 months, and the total return on investment over the 6 year life of the product is calculated at 419%.
The duration of the application experiment was 17 months.

The lessons learned from this experiment include the following points:
Choosing an ASIC foundry needs to be done by having very detailed selection criteria.
Investigate the design, simulation and layout tools very closely before agreeing to work with a particular vendor.
Talk to satisfied customers who have used the design, simulation and layout tools.
Be aware of the limitations of analogue simulation tools.
Include a penalty clause in the contract for late delivery of your samples by the foundry.
Adopting new technology (in this case an ASIC) is the only way to promote a 'step change' in the performance of your business.
Advance Electronics Ltd
Advance Park
LL14 3JR

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

Mixed Signal ASIC technology provided Advance Electronics Ltd 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.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.

Further information   Guiding Technology Transfer Node
For further information and support regarding this case study, please contact a Technology Transfer Node (TTN) in your region.
Homepage: http://www.fuse-network.com

Univercity of Glamorgan
Mid Glamorgan
Pontypridd CF37 1DL
United Kingdom