Innovative vacuum gauge controller offering superior accuracy and reliability

As outsourcing partner of INFICON AG, Cicor is taking over the production of a vacuum gauge controller for vacuum sensors, including the mechanical design, software and electronics development and complete manufacture of the controller.


INFICON is a leading provider of innovative
measurement technology, sensor technology for critical processes and cutting-edge process control software aimed at increasing the productivity and quality of sophisticated vacuum
processes in highly specialized sectors –
products that are of crucial importance in the
detection of gas leaks in the area of refrigeration/air conditioning technology and automobile production. They are also essential for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and end customers in the manufacture of semiconductor chips and thin films (e.g. for flatscreens, solar cells, magnetic and optical storage media, optical and decorative layers, and architectural glass). Other areas of application for vacuum technology include life sciences, research, aerospace and defense, food packaging, heat treatment, sterilization, and laser-cutting techniques. INFICON continues to use its expertise to offer unique products for the analysis of toxic
hazardous substances. The main applications for these products are in rescue services as well as civil and environmental protection. INFICON has worldleading production facilities in the USA and Europe with local branches in China, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Liechtenstein, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

The latest communications and technology standards for Industry 4.0

INFICON's vacuum gauge controllers combine maximum precision and reliability with user friendliness. They can easily be integrated in systems as well as act as a central display for several measurement points throughout the entire area under vacuum. The vacuum gauge controllers are mainly used in laboratory technology and in coatings for the semiconductor industry.

In order to make their application and integration in production as easy as possible, the devices are available with a range of connections (USB, Ethernet, etc.) enabling complete networking between the controllers and other devices. Measurement values can be monitored and analyzed directly in the network thanks to the devices' Ethernet connection, while the firmware can be updated via USB connection or a computer application. The devices are thus perfectly equipped for Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The vacuum gauge controllers are available with measurement connections for one, two or three sensors. The illuminated display, which is easy to read from a distance of up to ten meters, indicates each channel and up to six integrated set points independently. This guarantees optimum process measurement and monitoring. Each channel can be used independently or combined with other channels.

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Modular assembly in a compact design

 

Cicor developed a modular assembly for INFICON's control units, which enables the individual components to be used throughout the entire product range. The result is a cost-optimized,
innovative solution based on close cooperation from the requirement, conception and approval phase to mechanical, software and electronics development and industrialization, to production, complete box building and logistics.

As an expert in electronics, Cicor developed the electronics and software for INFICON using IBM Rational Rhapsody, a modern UML (Unifi ed Modeling Language) tool, to develop the software and UML to describe the software architecture and design. These models were then used as a basis for generating the firmware. Cicor developed the complete device using state-ofthe-art software development and from a Design for Manufacturing aspect. Based on its comprehensive
expertise in design and construction, Cicor created the bases for the device's mechanical parts, including the extruded enclosure, aluminum die cast front panel and back panel, as well as its assembly. The specifi cation and mechanical construction of the display was defined by Cicor and implemented in close collaboration with the display supplier. To ensure the packaging of the device is safe, it was tested in accordance with the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) packaging specification.

Sophisticated product approval for specific markets

The Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL) Listed Mark confi rms that a product has been tested by an accredited, independent testing laboratory and meets the relevant safety standards and minimum requirements also for sale in North America, too. Thanks to Cicor's support, the
vacuum gauge controllers met all the requirements for product approval. Moreover, the devices needed to meet international standard IEC 610610-1 (Safety requirements for electrical equipment for measurement, control, and laboratory use), a feat achieved thanks to Cicor's comprehenisve expertise in industrial and medical technology and extensive experience in meeting standards and certifications. Cicor coordinated and completed the product certifi cation process on behalf of the customer in closed collaboration with external laboratories.

“As the outsourcing partner, we support our customer in the development of the product, the mechanical design, the optimum choice of material and production, through to the selection of appropriate packaging, logistics and product approval.”

Cicor

Cicor – a partner that delivers added value

Production processes compatible across locations

Cicor works with integrated production and quality assurance processes, identical or compatible production facilities, test systems and standard ERP software (SAP). This allows an optimum choice of production sites, simple relocation of production and rigorous cost control. Prototypes can be manufactured and tested in close proximity to their development in Bronschhofen, with the serial production of the complete product range taking place in Romania. Following final
assembly, the completed device is packaged together with its manual and documentation for the end customer.

Test engineering

The modular assembly of this product family also enabled Cicor to provide a costefficient solution for the testing equipment. Despite the multitude of connections, the entire product range could be tested using a single testing system. Furthermore, the testing system was set up in a way that allows a simple expansion to include additional measurement channels.

Vendor-managed inventory (VMI)

As a complete outsourcing partner, Cicor also offers support for tailored logistics concepts. This requires flexibility and close cooperation. As the supplier, Cicor assumes responsibility for
INFICON's inventory to ensure short delivery times. The calculation of deliveries is based on
consumption figures and forecasts made available to Cicor online by INFICON.

 

The path to innovative solutions

The challenge

  • Customer-specific products
  • Cost-optimized design
  • Large product range covering various brands
  • Modular assembly for the whole product family
  • State-of-the-art display technology
  • Good readability at distances of up to ten meters
  • Laboratory equipment standard IEC 610610-1
  • ETL product certification for North American market
  • Use of latest technology standards
  • Logistics concept – rapid deliverability
  • Flexibility

The requirements

  • Development expertise
    • Electronics and software development
    • Mechanical design
    • Experience in working with international standards
    • Proximity to prototyping and production
  • Own production
    • Prototyping and series production
    • Test engineering
    • Industrialization
    • Logistics
  • Local partnerships with global reach

The Cicor solution

  • Complete mechanical, electronics and software development
    • Mechanical design (extruded enclosure, aluminum die casting, front plate, back plate, assembly)
    • Display specification and mechanical construction
    • Firmware development using IBM Rational Rhapsody
    • Development of PC tools in .NET using VisualStudio
    • EMC tests
    • Product certification in accordance with IEC 610610-1, ETL testing
  • Variant management of various brands
  • Prototyping in Switzerland
  • Serial production incl. box building in Romania
  • Specification and testing of packaging in accordance with the ISTA standard
  • Specific device characteristics:
    • Very bright vertical alignment LCD
    • Ethernet interface
    • Firmware upgrades via USB and computer application
    • High analog resolution of measurement channels

The benefits

For INFICON AG
  • Connectivity (USB, Ethernet, IoT)
  • Cost-optimized mechanical and electronics design
  • Everything from a single source, from development to finished product and product approval
  • Reliable, certified manufacturing processes
  • Easy communication (video conferences) and proximity to the customer
  • Coordinated logistics concept
    For the end customer
    • Display with good contrast and readability
    • Connectivity (USB, Ethernet, IoT)
    • Robust, high-quality housing
    • Safety in operation in accordance with IEC 61010
    • Easy software update via USB
    • Highly accurate measurements