Capabilities

Porticos Engineering Capabilities

We don't just build things, we build relationships.

General Capabilities

Porticos provides engineering services in the field of New Product Development and Product Improvement.  “Product” implies the intent to produce a physical device in manufacturing volumes.  Designing for those volumes, whether it be dozens or millions, is at the heart of what we do.

 

System Engineering​

Most products require a synthesis of electronic, software, and mechanical engineering to realize both a vision and a business plan.  Porticos has deep experience crossing the borders between engineering disciplines and business imperatives.  Some of the tools we use to maintain a System Engineering mindset include:

  • A detailed Work Breakdown Structure (AKA: WBS or Gantt Chart) that allows different engineering disciplines to align their efforts.
  • A Risk Register that keeps the team as efficient as possible.  Work on what matters most.
  • Progressively more sophisticated prototypes that demonstrate how all the many specific efforts combine to a unified product.
  • Requirements Tracking to keep the evolving technical expectations in one place.
  • Validation Plan that explains how we and our clients can be sure that those requirements have been met.
  • Failure Mode Effects Analyses, or FMEA.  Porticos will perform FMEA addressing both design opportunities (D/FMEA) and manufacturing or process concerns (P/FMEA).  Our clients frequently participate in these events.
Industrial Design

Industrial Design is all about how a user interacts with a device, or how a device influences a human being.  It incorporates aesthetics, ergonomics, user-interface, and feature set.  There is more to this than style.  Good design must be considerate.  It must make things better for the device user.

EXAMPLE:  A USB-C connector is reversible.  Achieving that feature was more difficult for the engineers, but enormously considerate of the billions of users.

Some of our clients prefer to define the Industrial Design parameters themselves, retaining Porticos only to provide technical “product realization.”  But many of our clients rely on Porticos to help define the vision: the shapes, controls, and general behaviors that make their product great.

Embedded Software ​
  • Embedded Control Development of firmware (C, C++, etc.) for custom control systems or modifications to existing designs.  Real Time Operating System (RTOS) implementation as well as bare-metal designs are supported.

  • System Integration: USB and network interface programming to support data transfer, system updates, and remote monitoring.

  • Algorithm Design: Software custom algorithm development to support standard and custom control functionality related to sensor interfacing and control, network system integration, or any unique functionality your product may require.

  • Verification and Validation: Software requirements, verification and validation testing, traceability documentation and testing.

Electronics
  • Architecture. One of the most important pieces of any design is establishing how each part will work together in the overall product or system. This includes a proper grounding scheme, noise reduction techniques for regulatory compliance (FCC), and safety considerations (UL, TUV, FDA, etc.). A good architecture also ensures the most efficient design with the lowest possible cost of goods (COGS).

  • Circuit Design. Our engineers have broad expertise comprising digital and analog circuits for new products, and improvements to existing circuits. We have broad combined experience designing with a variety of MCUs, DSPs, FPGAs, SoCs and other special purpose ICs. We develop custom circuits of all shapes and sizes, whether the product is a small wearable IoT device requiring a compact battery charging circuit on a rigid flex circuit board or a high voltage application requiring power isolation and shielding.

  • Sensor Integration. We develop circuits to interface with analog or digital sensor technologies to measure physical parameters: Temperature, humidity, pressure, proximity, position, velocity, vibration, sound, light, touch, and orientation.

  • Communication. Porticos has deep knowledge of hardware interfaces to LAN, WAN, WiFi networks, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Zigbee, Modbus and other less-common protocols. Board-level communication includes Ethernet, Ethercat, USB, I2C, SPI, CAN, RS-232, RS-422, and RS-485 interface design.

  • PCB Design and Layout. We are continually engaged in Circuit Board design for implementation of circuits in custom products. Using software tools such as Altium and Cadence, we provide rapid development of custom PCBs including standard FR4, Flex, Rigid-Flex, and MCPCB (Metal Core). This, along with our mechanical and thermal management capabilities, allows a seamless and elegant design of your custom product.

  • Box Builds. Certain products and systems require industrial or panel mount boxes which house things like relays, terminal strips, and other power electronics. Larger box builds may include a wire harness to cut down on much of the labor involved with individual cables or wires.

Mechanical Design
  • Design for Manufacturing and Design for Assembly.  DFM and DFA  are critical to realizing the business goals that support any new product.  If a device is to be economical, it must be nearly possible to manufacture it consistently.  Custom parts are designed for manufacturing processes appropriate to projected volumes.  Those parts are designed to go together only one way, minimizing the skill required to construct a unit.  Really good design also promotes calibration and end-of-line testing to make sure that inadequate units never make their way to the supply chain.

  • Injection Molding.  Complex plastic parts can be perfectly optimized for an application.  Achieving that optimization requires a deep understanding of the processes and the materials.  Our experts are intimately familiar with two-shot molding, overmolding, insert-molding, and other techniques.  We apply this same expertise to die-casting and other net-shape processes.
  • Computer Aided Engineering.  Porticos engineers perform simulations to evaluate performance of parts and assemblies.  Finite Element Analysis permits structural optimization (strength/stiffness) and also tells us how the product will respond to vibrations.  Computational Fluid Dynamics (see Specialized Capabilities) simulates the interaction of fluid flow and heat transfer; invaluable in thermal or fluidics systems.

  • Computer Aided Design.  CAD is ubiquitous in Product Development.  Porticos utilizes both Solidworks and Creo.  Our engineers follow well-defined protocols for revision control, design-review, and change orders to ensure that we are both efficient and comprehensive.  If the native CAD is a deliverable then we make sure it is flawless upon delivery.

  • Electromechanical Integration.  Most products include components that are electronic in nature, but mechanically challenging to implement.  Examples include touch-display, connectors, microphone, speaker, camera, buttons, and antennas.  Porticos engineers have decades of experience in this aspect of Product Engineering.

  • Motion Control.  Products with moving parts require expertise in kinematics (mechanism synthesis) and also with actuation, sensing, and power transmission.  Design of custom mechanisms to achieve compact, cost-effective products is a point of pride.  Gear-trains, timing belts, linkages, and custom cam profiles are all within our capabilities.
  • Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer.  Porticos has engineered numerous products that rely on some type of phase-change.  Our long experience in this area has allowed us to provide valuable services to some of the largest companies in the world, as well as both the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security.  Whether the goal is to equip a soldier, make an ice cube, or compress superheated steam, Porticos has the knowledge and the background to do it well.

We don't just build things, we build relationships.

Specialized Capabilities

Porticos is a full-service Product Engineering firm, with all of the services, disciplines, and expertise that implies.  But we do have some very specific expertise that deserve special mention.

Medical technology concept, stethoscope on a circuit board
Electronics Packaging

Examples of Electronics Packaging include nearly every electronic item you can think of: vehicle radio, rack-mount computer, wireless router, etc.  What they all have in common is that the core functionality is an electronic circuit.  Packaging that functionality into a robust, attractive, and cost-effective device is a system-engineering challenge that represents the bulk of our extensive Product Portfolio. 

Some interesting sub-categories discussed on this page include:

Wearable Electronics

Wearable devices are quite small.  Think smartwatch.  They are characterized by their very dense, compact architecture.  They typically incorporate excellent power management because the batteries are so small.  Wearables are robust enough to be worn, often continuously.  They are typically not quite as tough as Handheld Electronics.

Some good examples from our portfolio include:

Handheld Electronics

Handheld devices are small, but not nearly as small as most wearables.  Think walkie-talkie.  The balance of priorities are generally pretty common for handhelds:

  1. Handheld devices usually incorporate a user interface that is big enough to permit data-entry or to display information.  Designing that interface is its own challenge… try typing with gloves.

  2. Handheld electronics can incorporate batteries that are big enough to permit impressive feats, like broadcasting a radio signal to an orbiting satellite.

  3. They are often used (or left in) environments that would destroy a wearable device.  A fireman’s radio, for instance, must be both waterproof and fireproof.

Some good examples from our portfolio include:

Electronics Cooling & Thermal Design

Electronics devices can generate a lot of heat.


Porticos has two complementary capabilities in this field:

  • Thermal Design Experience.  The “toolbox” available to address an electronics cooling problem is deep.  We know all about heat pipes, thermal interface materials, heat-sinks, spreaders, fans, coolants, etc.  We know what the options are, and have a good feel for which option is appropriate to which problem.
  • Analysis.  We can predict how a system will behave by employing sophisticated computer simulations.  The experience to do this efficiently can save a lot of time and money.
Medication Adherence

The word adherence is used to describe how consistently a patient is taking their medication.  Poor adherence results in poor patient outcomes.  Devices to address the problem employ two strategies:

  1. Sensing:  The goal is to record that a medicine has been dispensed, and when.  That information is logged and, perhaps, made available to a care provider.
  2. Notification:  Remind the patient to take their medication at the right time.

A Pill Dispenser accomplishes both.  It dispenses some pills and records the time that it did so.  It also provides audible or visual reminders to the patient to actually ingest those pills.  It might even record some user-activity implying that the pills were taken: opening a door or pressing a button.

Porticos has also worked on many devices in this field.  A few examples of our work in Medication Dispensing are:

Medical Monitoring

Modern health care is based on the presumption that we can measure physiological parameters.  A nurse may take your temperature or measure your blood pressure.  A cardiologist might order an Electrocardiogram.  Some measurements are instantaneous (blood pressure.)  Others are taken over time, to give the care-provider an idea of how your physiology varies over an hour or a week.

Porticos has much experience designing medical monitoring instrumentation.

Machinery Health & Predictive Maintenance

Continuous monitoring of temperature, vibration, electrical current, and other parameters allows a Machine Learning algorithm to predict mechanical failure days or months ahead of the event.

This technology is commonly applied to motors, pumps, compressors, power turbines, jet engines, grinders, etc.

Some examples of our work in this field are:

Electro-Optics

Technically, electro-optics deals with the interaction between light and specialized materials.  Colloquially, it includes the implementation and integration of electro-optical devices into new products.

Porticos has successfully implemented custom cameras on many products, each of them the result of combining some image-sensing technology (e.g. CMOS or CCD) with lenses, illumination, optical filtering, and digital processing to achieve a unique goal.

Some examples of our work in this field are:

Tolerance Analysis

Dimensional tolerances specify the limits of acceptance.  The more we can accept, the less expensive it is to produce a product or device.

Porticos has developed a proprietary tool that allows us to perform detailed statistical tolerance analyses, and to keep up with the implication of making changes to specified tolerance.  We work with fabricators to determine the Process Capability for each dimension, and employ that knowledge to optimize the tolerance chain.

Electric Vehicle Charging

Electric Vehicle chargers represent a specific balance of priorities.  From the aesthetic point of view, the device is attractive, compact, and intuitively easy to use.  But it also represents high voltage, high power, and immense resilience to abuse.  We’ve provided product engineering to several EV Charger companies, including:

  • Siemens e-mobility

  • Atom Power

  • Heliox Energy
Surgical Robotics

Porticos is honored to have been retained by many surgical robotics firms, including:

Precise motion control combined with state-of-the-art thermal design are critical to success.  An intimate knowledge of the many regulatory hurdles can minimize the “blind alleys” one must navigate to find the best technical solution.