microcontroller reduces production costs by 20%
Hydrosphere Navaids has successfully utilised microcontroller technology in its
marine lanterns, used in navigational buoys, to improve their functionality and
reliability, whilst reducing maintenance costs. These product improvements will
also enable the company to develop new sales opportunities in its marine market.
The reduction in manufacturing costs will improve the company’s profit margin,
and generate a return on investment of 250% within 5 years.
Hydrosphere Navaids designs, manufactures and HYDROSPHERE NAVAIDS LTD
supplies navigational buoys and lights for the
Turnover 250 K€/year
marine and offshore markets. The company also
Industrial Sector Lighting equipment
develops bespoke navigational systems to meet NACE code: 31
specific customer requirements. In addition, Technical expertise PCB and discrete components
before the project
it installs and maintains its products.
Technical expertise at Microcontroller
the end of the project
SIGNIFICANT ECONOMIC BENEFITS
Sales of Hydrosphere Navaids’ existing marine lanterns were in decline as
Profit improvement the products were becoming increasingly difficult to adapt to meet new
relative to 1998 figures
customer requirements. The introduction of microcontroller technology has
stabilised the company’s market position by allowing it to meet its customers’
15 growing demands for increased functionality and reduced cost of ownership.
The improvements and the reduction in production cost by 20% will enable
the company to increase its sales and enhance its profit levels as shown in
the chart. The prototype development was funded under the FUSE
0 programme at a total cost of 24 K€. The increase in sales will enable the
1998 1999 2000 2001 Year
company to recover these costs within 2 years. The return on investment is
estimated at 250% over 5 years. The industrialisation costs were 7 K€.
Hydrosphere Navaids’ previous marine lanterns used in navigational buoys and other
marine signalling applications had to be individually constructed and set up at the
assembly stage to provide the flash code patterns required by each customer. The
introduction of a microcontroller technology has removed these limitations, and
allowed the addition of the following improvements:
• Higher product reliability as a result of the reduction in the number of components.
• Built in test and monitoring of battery and lamp condition to simplify maintenance.
• Reduced maintenance costs using a radio frequency communications link to enable
• Master and slave lantern synchronisation for application in jetty marker lights.
FUSE: Innovation with Microelectronics AE116
How to go about it
CHOOSING THE RIGHT TECHNOLOGY
Hydrosphere Navaids selected microcontroller technology to
improve the marine lamp controller because it offered the PROJECT OVERVIEW
following benefits: Main Activity Microcontroller development
• Increased flexibility to allow customer specific requirements
Duration 13 months
to be met cost effectively.
• Low cost in production volume of less than 1000 units per Effort 94 person days
annum. Overall prototype 24 K€
• Reduced assembly and manufacturing test times.
• Low risk development path and suitable technology step for
the company’s engineers.
A PARTNERSHIP FOR SUCCESS
Hydrosphere Navaids conducted the project as a FUSE application EFFORT & COST
experiment with the assistance of a suitable subcontractor.
Task Company’s Subcontractor’s
The subcontractor provided support in: effort (days) costs (K€)
• Specification and microcontroller selection. Management 18
• Training in microcontroller design and programming.
Specification 11 0.5
• Hardware and software development.
Training 10 4.5
The main project tasks, effort and costs are listed in the Design 45 6.3
Total 94 11.3
YOU CAN ALSO BENEFIT FROM MICROELECTRONICS
Microcontroller technology provided Hydrosphere Navaids with the means of improving its marine lantern product and
maintaining 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
Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.
The Technology Transfer Node The Company The FUSE Secretariat
University of Hertfordshire, ERDC, College Lane Hydrosphere Navaids Ltd., European Commission
Hatfield Herts., AL10 9AB, United Kingdom. Penmark House, Albert Rd, Aldershot, DG Information Society – N105
Tel: +44 (0)1707 284157, Fax: +44 (0)1707 284185 Hants GU11 1SZ, United Kingdom. 200, rue de la Loi
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org B-1049 Brussels
FUSE: Best practice in Microelectronics AE116