When developing hardware and software products, we try to define their properties so that the product functionally covers as much of the market as possible. On the other hand, there is an effort to minimize the price, easy operation or setup and the shortest possible time to market. Therefore, sometimes the so-called customer variants (also OEM, Original Equipment Manufacturer) are created, which are based on a standard product and are modified to meet the maximum performance/price ratio, or offer some special features that are not generally needed, but for a particular application are a key feature of the product.
An example of a customer modification is the modification of the Modbus TCP - DALI converter, R091. The customer, the Swiss company Spline AG, uses the R091 to control lighting in residential buildings. The required changes were of three types:
• Different color of the box - instead of transparent red matt gray
• Company logo and graphics on the taskbar
• Graphic design of terminal labels
• Sticker with MAC address on the main panel (according to it, the device is identified during commissioning)
• Delivery of a file (Excel) with a list of MAC addresses for easy import into the customer's service software
• Graphic design of the label on the side of the device
• Possibility of power supply via PoE, now only 24 V AC / DC
• Indication LEDs moved to the main panel
• Central ON and Central OFF buttons on the main panel
• DHCP is the default network setting
• Ability to password protect the internal web server with a freely defined password
• Spline design configuration website
The customer installs the device in house switchboards. The Central ON and Central OFF buttons, available on the main panel, work in the same way as the "BC 1/0" switch, ie when pressed they send a central command on the DALI bus to switch all lights on or off. It is used for testing purposes and emergency control.
The system allows more flexible installation and replacement of converters in case of failure: the converters do not need to be addressed in advance, they receive addresses from a DHCP server and the link to the control system is set centrally in the service software. The possibility of password protection of web access has unified service access with other interfaces that are deployed in installations.
The first requirement for an OEM design arose in November 2020, when Spline AG won a larger order and was able to order a minimum number of pieces, which made sense for the OEM design. The minimum number of pieces for this type of equipment is between 50 - 100 pieces, the exact number depends on the scope of modifications and the allowable price increase.
By mid-December, business and technical issues had been clarified and the terms of reference agreed. In this case, the development to a fully functional and tested product, including documentation, took less than 4 months. At the beginning of May 2021, the first shipment of OEM versions of R091 converters under the name Dim-DALI traveled to Thalwil, Switzerland.
For every company, the supply of OEM devices is a significant strengthening of business relationships with customers. In addition, development according to customer requirements represents very valuable feedback for us for the sales, development and technical support departments. However, we perceive the OEM order mainly as a sign of trust, when the customer does not hesitate to use his trademark, often the most valuable asset of the company, on equipment that was created outside his direct control.