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GLOBAL HEATING AND AIR CONDITIONING COMPANY // Climate Control System

This heating and cooling customer came to Logic PD to improve the user experience of building climate control systems. As a complete product lifecycle management partner, Logic PD created an intuitive and easy to use interface that allows building managers to access the information they need when they need it.

CHALLENGE

For building managers responsible for a comfortable and efficient environment, where productivity can vary on temperature swings, saying, “I can’t do anything about it,” is not acceptable. The operating complexity of building climate control systems often prohibits managers from controlling the building environment, leaving facilities with energy inefficiency, occupant discomfort, and environment and compliance issues. The customer, a world leader in air conditioning systems, saw this as an opportunity to put the ‘control’ in the hands of the building manager. To achieve this, the customer asked Logic PD to design a smart control panel that would provide a flexible and intuitive user interface to improve user experience, but also withstand harsh environments when attached to the climate control system.

SOLUTION

The customer engaged with Logic PD as a complete product lifecycle management partner. Logic PD assisted the customer with all the phases in a product lifecycle: Roadmapping, Development and Fulfillment. To determine the design needs for the control panel, Logic PD design engineers first conducted configuration studies – spending time learning the environments the control panel would be used in and identifying critical environmental factors before starting the process of designing the control panel’s enclosure. The configuration studies revealed that the control panel would be used in varying harsh environments; most notably used in the chiller plant of an industrial building. So Logic PD’s industrial design team developed enclosure concepts that would tolerate harsh environments, but also be easy to use for those interacting with the control panel. The customer and Logic PD then worked together to determine the final design. The result is a durable enclosure that meets IP56 environmental protection standards, and an ergonomic arm that allows the control panel to be viewed from various heights and angles. The final design included a 12 inch color LCD screen that displays all necessary operator controls, giving the operator a more user-friendly, consumer-oriented experience and providing immediate visibility into the performance of the system.

For the brains of the control panel system, the customer liked the reliability and reduced risk that came from using one of Logic PD’s products. Utilizing an off-the-shelf solution reduces design costs and helps speed the time-to-market. Logic PD’s PXA270 card engine is a complete System-on-Module (SOM) that is compact and product-ready, with hardware and software with essential features for embedded networking applications, such as the customer’s control panel. However, the customer’s product specification required a single board solution. The customer was concerned that Logic PD’s standard offering of a two board solution – a card engine mounted on a custom baseboard – would not withstand the vibrations presented by the application. Logic PD offered a solution; combine the benefits of the PXA270 card engine with the single board requirement, without having to design a new single board from scratch. Logic PD’s electrical engineers integrated the PXA270 card engine design directly into the board, ultimately leading to an integrated System-on-Module, or iSOM. The use of the iSOM eliminates the risks involved in designing a new card engine printed circuit board (PCB) to match the product specifications. Instead of sending signals out through board-to-board connectors like on a two board solution, the signals were routed through the single PCB. This implementation preserved the design integrity and continuation support of the standard SOM while addressing the control panel’s unique requirements.

To help make certain that the control panel communicated properly with the customer’s air conditioning unit, Logic PD’s software engineers developed device drivers for the Windows CE board support package (BSP) to ensure flawless interaction between hardware and user interface. During the Development Phase, the engineers also had to keep in mind the 24 different languages the product would support, considering each language’s unique character rendering and presentation requirements.

To verify the product met the stringent design and condition requirements of its application, Logic PD manufacturing and systems engineers designed and developed a full test process, exposing the prototypes to extreme conditions. Logic PD worked with the customer’s engineers to make sure the product, as designed, would withstand the vibration and thermal requirements of Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT) and pass all certification testing, including CE conformity in Europe and UL standards in the United States and Canada. Logic PD and the customer developed product test plans, including a Gage R&R test, a verification test before production to ensure a correct design, to test the repeatability and reproducibility of the control panel and created test fixtures unique to the product to ensure the control panels coming off the manufacturing line would perform as expected. Additionally, it was imperative that the product delivery packaging be robust to handle rough delivery methods. Logic PD worked with the customer to design packaging that would withstand rough transport conditions.

RESULTS

Together, Logic PD and the customer created a new reality for building managers and staff. The new operator control panel gives managers the ability to make their own decisions about temperature control based on the current, specific needs of their location. The large color display, intuitive interface, and option of 24 languages made the control panel approachable and easy to use for the operator. By re-purposing the PXA270 card engine design, the customer was able to keep development costs down and bring the product to market faster. The resulting control panel has allowed the customer to provide its customer with a user-friendly option that is economically smart and environmentally responsible. Operating staff can gain insight into the system directly from the display panel, allowing for easy adjustments and performance review.

CUSTOMER PROFILE

The customer is a world leader in air conditioning systems, services, and solutions to control the comfort of the air for people in homes and many of the world’s largest commercial, industrial and institutional buildings.

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