How DSP and SMT technologies may open new dimensions to optical distance measurement at a 50% lower cost
Technologies used


Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    333 Industrial process control
The Company, NES - North Electronic Systems SpA of Carcare (SV) - Italy, is involved in the design and production of electro-optical sensors and systems for use in application of industrial automation. The Company is active in this field since 1986 and has developed a proprietary and well-recognised know-how for which it is well known and reputed in Italy.
NES has 7 employees with 5 involved in the electronic development.
The main products of the Company are the optical distance sensors, based on the triangulation principle and employing LED or laser as a light source. This kind of sensor is used in many industrial processes to provide - on automated machineries and plants (especially for food-processing, woodwork machinery and ceramic production),- dimensional measures, typically for the purpose of quality control.
In some market segments the Company has suffered lately with the competition of more-compact and less-expensive sensors, mostly Japanese. Although, in general less-accurate, they are much more compact and cheaper due to advanced technology. They monopolise the European (as well as the Italian) market. The NES’ product which has most-severely suffered the competition is a medium-range distance sensor called LDE, based on old-style analogue electronics and production methods. This product has been totally renewed by the FUSE action, which has led to the design and prototyping of the new generation of sensors, called «LKA».
The ASAP project started in September 1997 and terminated in March 1998 with a planned duration of 7 months. The investment required to design, build and test the prototype has been 40 KEUR. The ASAP project is part of a wider project of technology updating (called «SENSOR-2000»), and concerns the design of a new generation of electronic boards for NES’ optical distance sensors, based on DSP (Digital Signal Processing) and using SMT (Surface Mount Technology) components and techniques.
The payback period will be 15 months with a return of investments of 280% over a 3 year life cycle

ASAP is the core of the «SENSOR-2000» Project and it is its initial and its most «technological» part.

In ASAP, the DSP and SMT technologies (both new for the Company) were selected to reduce the overall size of the circuitry of the sensors (overall volume is 1/5 respect the old product) and to improve the accuracy of measurement (typical error of measure half of the previous product).. These two target have been actually met, by ASAP as well as a sensible cost reduction (about 47%) of the sensor. In fact ASAP has successfully led to the realisation of a DSP/SMT PCB for the new generation of NES’ sensors, characterised by compact size, enhanced accuracy and reduced production costs.
While integration with DSP constitutes a jump forward in our design methodology and the usage of advanced development tools, SMT was the enabling technology for miniaturisation and volume and size reduction

During the project the following main lessons were learnt by NES

1. Technology Experts : They are necessary in order to acquire quickly a new technology. Then they must be controlled and their activity must be well-ruled by contracts
2. Involvement of Personnel : It is necessary to guarantee that technologies, once acquired, become a stable and reliable property of the Company.
3. Planning : It is always necessary in any step of any work, but is fundamental at «project-level» in order to keep under control the costs and the times
4. Design Planning: It must be done accurately even if it is a difficult and time-consuming phase. It will avoid successive errors, misunderstanding, repetitions.

Via Nazionale 62
17043 Carcare (SV) – ITALY

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

DSP technology provided NORTH ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS SPA 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
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