Why depth of expertise and technical capability is everything in sensing technology manufacturing

Written by Graeme Robertson

18 February 2021

Sensing technology has seen a huge growth in application in recent years as the Internet of Things has matured and, more recently, as Covid restrictions have led many aspects of business and life to be actioned at arm’s length. Sensing technology is widely applicable in robotics, MedTech, agriculture, social housing and other forms of commercial monitoring.

Technologies that remotely monitor environmental conditions, performance and maintenance needs are increasingly utilised in sectors where it is desirable to remove human operatives from high risk work environments and where remote monitoring will lead to long-term cost efficiencies. Many of these applications require sensors to be able to withstand the harshest of conditions - and include areas such as transport infrastructure, subsea and aerial operations in offshore renewable energy, and large engine performance monitoring.

Through our extensive experience in supporting industrial control and condition monitoring of power distribution and infrastructure systems, oil & gas and lift tools, CB Technology has developed a comprehensive manufacturing and testing capability to address the challenges brought to bear by extreme operating conditions.

Sensing technology products are pivotal to the effective monitoring, performance management and preventative maintenance of critical systems. As such, the technology needs to be built to operate remotely over long periods of time in inhospitable environments, including high pressure, extreme temperatures, intense weather conditions, and difficult physical challenges such as vibration and shock.

Build quality and testing
Products must comply with the highest standards of build quality. All printed circuit board assemblies manufactured by CB Technology are built to IPC610 Class 3 and, in some cases, to specific enhanced customer specifications. This ensures high reliability soldering that is able to withstand extreme environmental conditions. In some instances, this means we rely on our specialised hand soldering experts where automated soldering machines struggle to meet the required standards.

The quality of the build process is matched by our rigorous environmental testing. Testing techniques are carried out through one of our chambers to exercise the product over a range of temperatures from 175℃ to -20℃, ramping at rates of up to 10℃/minute. This introduces several dynamics to the product, with rapid expansion and contraction of the solder and leads of the components, severely testing the build integrity. Products are tested for up to five days, during which time repeated performance to the product sensing specification is also monitored.

CB Technology prides itself in developing robust, customised test solutions, jigs and external monitoring hardware to record and log the product performance during these burn-in tests. Specific sensor testing and calibration ensure repeated accurate performance in the field.

Specialist capabilities
Further specialist techniques within the manufacturing process are required to ensure our products are fit for purpose in the face of extreme weather conditions, vibration and shock.

CB Technology has extensive competence in this area, from the application of RTV for both sealing and protecting against specific component shock and vibration, to a full range of conformal coating, sealing the product against moisture ingression. Conformal coating includes full product potting in hermetically sealed casings to both dip and spray of materials, from acrylics to urethanes.

The key capabilities above are complemented by strong engineering and test skills across a diverse range of sensing technologies, including detection of temperature, pressure, humidity, gas emissions, vibration and movement. CB Technology utilises its expertise to develop solid manufacturing processes and vigorous test solutions which optimise a product’s performance, ensuring it meets the stipulated operational specification.

In terms of the connectivity of sensing technology, the method of communication utilised is of the utmost importance. Within a localised wired or radio network, this might be WIFI, Zigbee, LoRa, RFI or Bluetooth. Alternatively, this might be directly over the WAN utilising 4G. CB Technology has manufactured products and solutions implementing all of these communications techniques, including data transmission testing along with unique product ID programming and registration.

CB Technology - leading the way
CB Technology has leading edge capability in the manufacture and testing of sensing technology that is reliable and durable enough to perform consistently in the harshest of operating conditions. Through our extensive expertise and proven technical prowess, we can support the ever growing and diversifying marketplace of IoT sensing technology, from social housing projects to innovations in healthcare to offshore renewable energy generation and beyond. Our track record for highly skilled manufacturing output combined with stringent product testing makes CB Technology the market-leading sensing technology manufacturer.

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