Title
Switched Output Temperature Sensor
Microcontroller Technology Opens Up New Market Opportunities
Technologies used

Microcontroller

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    28 :Machinery
    31 Electrical and Optical Equipment
    34-35 Suppliers of Vehicles for Land Transport
    333 Industrial Process Controller Equipment
Abstract
Elmwood Sensors Ltd designs and manufactures thermal sensors for use in the automotive, industrial and commercial sectors. The company's current product range is based on the use of either bi-metallic or thermistor technology. Both have limited scope for future diversification and growth. The market is a mature market that is fiercely price competitive.

The objective of the application experiment was to introduce an electronic design capability into the company so that a new universal automotive temperature sensor / switch product could be developed. The technical objective of the application experiment was to integrate an embedded micro controller, a thermistor and a power switch to produce a programmable thermal switch. This device would also provide the added advantage of being able to digitally communicate temperature values and diagnostic data to the vehicle's management system.

The improved product's features include:
1. The conversion of the resistance value of temperature sensor to a value representing 0C including non-linearity compensation.
2. The comparison of the temperature values against pre-programmed 'trip' values.
3. The direct drive of a load of up to 4 amperes DC in response to the result of the temperature measurement.
4. Signalling a direct reading of the temperature via a serial interface.

The new produce design capability has significantly improved customer perceptions of the company's technical capability, and enhanced the image of the company in terms of it's innovation capability. This has led to the company acquiring new customers because of the acquisition of electronic design expertise provided by the FUSE application experiment. In addition the company's standing with existing customers has also been enhanced by the provision of detailed application support to customers. The experience gained has also influenced the company's design of the type of sensor that it designs into new products to minimise total system complexity. For example, the experience gained Elmwood Sensors to advise a customer on an interfacing technique for it's humidity sensors based on microcontroller technology that reduced the component count from 32 parts to 3.

The application experiment's duration was 8 months, and the development was undertaken between January 1997 and September 1997. The cost of the application experiment was approximately 50 KECU. This investment has already resulted in improved customer perceptions, related sales, and significant future sales potential. The anticipated payback period for the FUSE investment of 3 years is dominated by the long lead times for the entry into service of new products in the automotive market place. However, this application market can have a relatively long product life time, and based on an 8 year full production life the Return on Investment (ROI) of this product development is 420 %.

The company's experiences detailed in this document will be of interest to other companies operating at a very basic analogue design capability, or companies faced by a similar market environment, dominated by the supply of components or systems to large organisations on a bespoke basis. The target audience will include other component suppliers to for the automotive marketplace, machinery, industrial process control applications.

Company
Elmwood Sensors Ltd
Elm Road
North Shields
Tyne & Wear
NE27 8SA
UK.

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

Microcontroller technology provided Elmwood Sensors 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