End of production of key components: Innovation boost through effective redesign

A redesign is often the only way to go when the end of production rolls around for key components in products. This confronts vendors with complex challenges, but also presents opportunities. ITK helped Bosch Home Comfort Group redesign a central electronic control unit (ECU). The result retains the core functionality while satisfying higher safety standards. What’s more, it can be advanced and evolved independently.

Smart Products: Woman controls thermal condensing boiler

The challenge: Discontinued parts usher in the end of production for a central ECU

Phasing out parts of keys components usually spells the end of production (EoP) for those components. Vendors have no choice but to opt for a quick redesign if they want to continue selling their products. This is a tall order to fill, especially when rigorous safety requirements have to be factored into the equation.

The Home Comfort Group faced this challenge when it set out to re-engineer an electronic control unit (ECU), including safety functions, for boilers and condensing boilers. Without this redesign, the certification for and the right to sell products containing the ECU would have been voided. This project was not just a matter of ensuring compliance with the latest safety requirements. This was a big move from one generation to the next, a transition that would entail adapting the firmware and hardware abstraction layer (HAL). Changing the hardware meant changing the software – and quite extensively at that. Yet this also presented an opportunity to rejuvenate the programming and operating system to gear both up for the future.

Smart Products: Person draws a process illustration

The solution: Optimize the feature set and satisfy stricter safety standards

Redesigns involve a lot of work, usually on a tight schedule. We took a close look at legacy processes, digging deep to find the most viable and manageable way of re-engineering the ECU. Making the most of process tailoring practices for greater flexibility and speed, we adapted the documented processes specifically to current requirements. We also identified functions that would have to be migrated to the new hardware to join the new functions.

Smart Products: Software architect and designer is programming and looking at code on a screen.

New safety standards were put into practice in three steps: We performed a gap analysis to determine what parts of the technical safety concept would have to be tightened up. After revamping the software architecture, we updated and finalized the technical safety documentation. This entailed handling requirements engineering and management, documenting the software design and dependencies within the safety concept, and linking in new standards. Finally, we ensured bilateral traceability as well as the traceability and reproducibility of the code and the associated standards. Our experts also assisted with the migration to the easier-to-maintain, more advanced real-time operating system (RTOS), helped port and modify the application software, and supported process adaptation, rollout, and certification efforts.

The added value: Innovative, safe, and on independent path into the future

The result of the redesign is a future-proof ECU that satisfies more rigorous standards. Easy to maintain, it is also TÜV-certified. Core functions remain in place with new functions adding an innovative boost. 

With all results handed over to the Bosch Home Comfort Group, its team can tack on further functions independently as it sees fit. The detailed documentation, selection of artifacts and architecture, and the transfer of all IP rights and content made for a seamless transition at the end of the project. We implemented processes with sustainability in mind – for example, by introducing tools to manage requirements. This creates added value that is sure to benefit follow-on initiatives.

Key Take Aways

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Innovation boost

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Future-proof

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Product independence

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