How does a commodity manager source a sensor for high-reliability applications such as medical devices, transportation equipment, or industrial controls? Commodity managers have to deal with several major concerns including cost issues, materials compliance, and availability of supply, while ensuring that they will bring a high quality product to market.
One way to ensure that the sensors meet the requirements for cost, compliance and supply is to look for product lines that offer greater flexibility. This translates into a variety of options for specifications such as port connections, packaging, outputs, and environmental ratings. This makes it easier to select the right sensor for the application, and it can eliminate the need for a custom device, which can quickly ramp up the bill of materials (BOM) costs.
Flexibility of design benefits more than just the designer; it helps the entire product development team including buyers by delivering lower costs -- no need for a custom device, a faster time-to-market because it's a standard device, and a streamlined supply chain – and the sensor family can be used across multiple end products, speeding up the qualification process.
Honeywell Sensing & Control is a good example of a sensor manufacturer that has perfected component flexibility by taking a platform approach across its sensor lines in response to the industry's "need for speed of samples, speed to change a design and speed to production." By providing multiple options for a product line, it helps new product development teams deliver low cost designs that meet their time-to-market requirements.
Product platforms also help manufacturers meet global requirements and price points for different regions of the world, enabling product designs to be scaled up or down, depending on the application and country requirements.
Case in point: Honeywell's TruStability pressure sensor provides more than one million configuration possibilities. With multiple options, designs can be changed mid-stream without being impacted by product launch delays and additional costs.
Evaluating sensor product lines that offer multiple options for a variety of specs is not the only way to source sensors for high-reliability applications, but it's a good start, and other considerations should be taken into account such as the supplier's financial risk, global manufacturing footprint, and quality assurance systems and processes. When looked at together, this should ensure that the best sensor is selected for the application in terms of performance and supply chain requirements.