During this phase, we provide the recommended options for success based on your needs. Additionally, we further discuss any potential specific application needs. Recommendations can include an off‑the‑shelf sensor, a custom or semi‑custom sensor NRE project, or a feasibility study for unknown applications. After product selection takes place, the quoting process beings.
- Our sales staff is here to help you select the proper sensor for your application and create a path for your applications success.
- Our sensor options vary from application‑specific, off‑the‑shelf sensors, to fully custom sensors.
- Our approach to quotes keeps you informed each step of the way.
- Completing Phase 3 allows you to begin testing.
- This is the fourth article in a series of articles. The first article can be viewed here.
Phase 3: Product Selection matches the needs and requirements discovered in Phases 1 & 2 to a sensor recommendation. This phase starts by identifying any additional application requirements to ensure a successful product recommendation for deployment. Product recommendations may include a variety of options:
- An application‑specific, off‑the‑shelf sensor
- A feasibility study and sensor specification
- A semi‑custom sensor
- A fully custom sensor
Each product recommendation has its own process depending on which option is selected. After a sensor selection is made, the quoting process begins with setting the schedule with the realistic time frames and deliveries and the corresponding pricing.
In the next section, we dive deeper into the four recommendations of the product selection options.
The best way to ensure a successful application is selecting the correct sensor. The thorough discovery process that takes place in Phase 1 & Phase 2 helps us weigh which options are most suited to your application. Several options are available, each having unique advantages.
After understanding your application and requirements we will know if an off‑the‑shelf sensor solution will work for you. Our standard sensors are ready to ship which means you can immediately order sensors for testing. Provided the sensor meets all the requirements to make your application successful, we will recommend one of our standard sensors for testing.
DESIGN TIP One of the tools that we may use during this phase is our Sensor Selection Guide. The guide recommends a number of sensors based on proven applications. This guide can be very helpful during product selection. If you have any questions, please let your sales rep know and they will be glad to help you.
DESIGN TIP Selecting your sensor requires consideration of the sensor’s detection zone beam patterns. Understanding the typical detection zones is a critical part of the application that becomes crucial during testing. For more information on beam patterns, see How to Read the MaxSonar Beam Pattern article on the Performance Data page of our website.
DESIGN TIP If you are familiar with using an oscilloscope and have access to one, selecting one of our MB13## or MB70## series sensors with the Analog Envelope output on Pin 2 can be invaluable during the integration process. The Analog Envelope provides a processed waveform that shows the targets in your environment giving you an understanding of how the sensor actually sees its surroundings.
Feasibility Study Sensor Specification
The next potential step would be a feasibility and specification study. During this study, MaxBotix Inc., takes your application information and conducts rudimentary testing and analysis where required. The goal of the feasibility and specification study is determining the potential for success when using an ultrasonic sensor in your application. Additionally, we collaborate with you on the sensor specifications as defined in an Interface Control Document (ICD) which is used to complete the Non‑Recurring Engineering (NRE) quote discussed later in this article.
After completing the feasibility study, we consider designing a semi‑custom sensor utilizing the MaxBotix Inc., NRE process. A semi‑custom sensor usually features one of our standard products with modification to the firmware. Some of the most common types of semi‑custom sensors are those with a custom trigger distance or triggering time line to match specific requirements. This option provides you with a rapid cost‑effective development cycle to deliver a sensor that specifically matches your application.
Fully Custom Sensor
The final service option is a fully custom sensor that is developed using our NRE process. A custom sensor is more involved than a semi‑custom sensor. This option also provides a time‑efficient, cost‑effective solution in which MaxBotix Inc., matches all your hardware and firmware requirements. This may include sensor color, branding requirements or even sensor shape and layout. In most cases, we complete such a development cycle in 3 to 12 weeks, depending on the scope of engineering and testing required.
DESIGN TIP When looking at a sensor solution, you must look at the total cost of ownership. The costs associated with an NRE development cycle many times result in a lower total cost of ownership rather than using a sensor that does not match all the requirements and requires expensive workarounds or in‑field repairs. Additionally, we may be able to reduce your production costs by providing a sensor that interfaces directly with your system vs. requiring you to add additional hardware to make the interface compatible. You can learn more about the NRE process in the Design Cycle Guide: NRE article.
DESIGN TIP To help reduce the cost and delay of scope creep on your project, the information review and verification at the end of the product selection is vital to the process. It is important that you look at all the details and if you have any questions, let your sales representative know so that we can ensure your solution is complete.
Once an option is selected, MaxBotix Inc., provides links and documents to all relevant information for your review. This step is critical because you know your application best. If you have any questions, contact your sales representative. Our mutual goal is to ensure that all of your requirements are included in your solution. Our process requires that we discuss your needs and that you send written confirmation for your sensor selection.
The Quoting Process
Upon completion of the product selection process, we are able to complete the quoting process. There are several types of quotes that MaxBotix Inc., provides.
- Request for Price (RFP): An RFP is commonly used early during the project. This number helps determine the long‑term feasibility of a project to meet the expectations regarding the sensor’s per unit price. This type of quote is typically used in Phase 3: Product Selection.
- MaxBotix believes in having clear prices for our products: As a result, we do not negotiate special pricing for our customers (outside of volume pricing and distributorship agreements). Not offering special pricing serves to reduce our office overhead and results in much lower pricing for our customers. We determine the price of our products by our cost to produce in volume.
- Standard Quote: This quote is for a set quantity with a requested delivery date. A standard quote is typically used in Phase 3: Product Selection. For your convenience, you can order up to 100 units directly from our website and receive quantity price breaks.
- Feasibility & NRE Conceptual Bid: A ballpark cost estimate of the sensor project is based upon our current knowledge. This quote gives you perspective as to what our expected development costs will be associated with the project. This may be used in any stage of the process.
- Feasibility & NRE Quote: These quotes are typically used in Phase 3 and 4.
- Feasibility Quote: This quote declares the cost of feasibility testing and development of the ICD for the sensor. The NRE quote can only be completed after the ICD is completed. The feasibility study gives us the information we need to provide a conceptual design and an NRE quote.
- NRE Quote: The development costs of the semi‑custom or custom sensor solution along with any required testing.
- Scheduled Shipments Quote: MaxBotix Inc., provides a series of shipments to allow you to receive the best per unit pricing. This is used in Phases 4, 5, and 6.
With every quote, there is an associated lead time. MaxBotix Inc., makes every effort to meet our customer’s expectations regarding delivery. As such, if you have any questions regarding the lead time, please work with your sales representative. We will work with you to collaborate on a delivery timeline solution.
DESIGN TIP To maintain our cost‑effective sensor pricing we are very upfront with our high volume pricing. As a result, you can trust our pricing will be maintained to the best of our ability over the life of your project.
By the completion of Phase 3, you now have a path forward, the cost and timeline for the project, and a sensor that can be tested in your application. The next phase is Proof of Concept & Testing where you build your proof of concept and start testing the sensor.
Look for our next article: Proof of Concept & Testing. Build your proof of concept and pilot lot for testing.