What’s in a Warranty? Part 2 - How We Guarantee Our Antenna Design

Thu, 06/03/2021 - 14:00

Industry-Best Durability Doesn’t Happen by Accident

In our most recent blog post, we discussed our exceptional five-year antenna warranty, something relatively unique in the industry that enables us to extend confidence in reliability to our customers. Warrantied against defects in workmanship and manufacturing, we’re so certain of our antennas’ resilience in the field that we’re able to offer a guarantee that’s well in excess of the one month to one year commonly offered with competing solutions.

How are we able to offer such a lasting warranty? The answer is that our manufacturing processes, design for manufacture, rigorous testing, and other quality-focused programs are all in place to ensure that the antennas we manufacture can stand up to environmental conditions at least for the duration of those five years and likely much longer. This kind of reliability is no accident; Laird Connectivity aims and succeeds at providing antennas that you can rely on to provide quality connectivity for many years.

In this post ,we’re looking at a few of the processes we have in place as a manufacturer to ensure that our components, their construction, and the overall physical and mechanical integrity of our antennas are of premium build quality, reliable, and a true value to our customers.

#1 – Mechanical Qualification Testing: Simulating the Effects of Time, Wear, and Exposure

It’s not guesswork that brings us confidence in our antenna design. Real measurable data about the effects of wear and exposure over the lifetime of an antenna is the data-driven approach that ensures our products are sufficiently reliable for longevity in installation. Mechanical Qualification Testing is one of our standard reliability processes and provides a scientific approach to determining the physical and mechanical integrity of the antenna in the presence of several common environmental stressors.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, either. Experience is a teacher, and therefore we test products to their real-world exposures, something that comes with decades of helping customers deploy antennas in the field. For example, testing for resilience against salt spray and water ingress is extremely important for a vehicle-mounted antenna which is regularly subjected to road salts during icy winters. An outdoor infrastructure antenna may never encounter salt spray, unless it is in a costal location, but its form factor and height make it more vulnerable to wind loading or constant UV-exposure. Each antenna and its deployment environment have different needs, and we have clearly-defined tests and procedures to make sure they can outlast their challenges.

Many of these tests are performed on the majority of our antenna portfolio, such as thermal cycling to simulate the alternate extremes of heat and cold. These tests are part of building the complete picture of what an antenna is exposed to over years of installation. When we warranty a product for five years in the field, it’s precisely because our decades of experience inform us to know what those years and conditions will look like from the perspective of the antenna, and we test to and above those conditions in the lab.

#2 – Design for Manufacture: Smart Design that Lasts

Thinking about the physical design, component connections, and the simplification of manufacturing processes is a core aspect of our product design that has broad-reaching impacts on costs, reliability, and time to market. Laird Connectivity’s design process is deeply ingrained with a Design For Manufacture (DFM) process that attempts to ensure parts are easy to install, designed as simply and reliably as possible, and in alignment with the tooling and hardware specifications of our materials suppliers.

This sometimes means designing parts in such a way that they can’t be accidentally installed incorrectly and damaged. A widely-known manufacturing principle comes from the Toyota Production System where Shigeo Shingo adopted the concept of “poka-yoke” mechanisms (translated as “mistake-proofing”). These are mechanisms designed with user error in mind to prevent damage in installation or operation. A good example might be a power cable with differently-sized positive and negative terminal housing, so that it cannot be accidentally installed upside-down. This kind of pre-planning for human error is also a part of our product design process, and results in products that are less likely to fail, easier to assemble, and benefit from a stronger mechanical connection. This also reduces the time to market and costs for our customers while ensuring the highest quality and reliable products are manufactured.

This attention to manufacturing and materials extends through to our suppliers as well. We have well-defined multiple-audit processes to help us choose quality materials from quality-focused suppliers. Regular follow-up audits ensure that our components remain high-quality and within expected specifications and tolerances. This provides a stringent process of checks on our supplied materials and helps us deliver the reliable hardware that our customers depend on.

#3 – Mechanical Expertise and Purpose-Built Solutions

In a recent video we highlighted our vandal-resistant 868/900 MHz antenna, a ruggedly-constructed antenna with an enclosure that withstood 15 direct strikes from a baseball bat in internal testing. This antenna is constructed with an extremely challenging application in mind: most antennas cannot survive this degree of blunt force, and building a suitable enclosure for the job requires exceptional materials, thoughtful design, and the experience to know what’s likely to succeed and likely to fail.

Our decades of experience in antenna manufacturing inform key decisions about mechanical design, the materials required, and the kinds of structural choices appropriate to the application and the stressors inherent in its usage. For example, our-vandal resistant antenna is engineered with a rigid dome shape as a structurally sound form factor that is suited to resist direct and glancing impacts. We select materials that not only resist weathering elements but are tolerant to extreme vibration and shock. The antenna internals are also constructed with impact force in mind, so that they aren’t damaged by strikes and signal integrity is unaffected.

This is the sort of expertise that comes with having worked with countless OEMs to construct purpose-built hardware that is uniquely formidable against the factors it faces in the real world. Our decades of designing and manufacturing antennas means we’ve seen all variety of antenna failure modes and have learned how to account for them. The antenna is very often the most exposed and vulnerable part of a wireless system and must be unobstructed to the elements by its nature. Our antennas are engineered with this vulnerability in mind. A wireless system is only as strong as its weakest components, and we ensure that the antenna is never a compromising piece of a communications system.

Connected – No Matter What

The biggest companies in the world choose Laird Connectivity to solve their wireless challenges with expert support and reliable materials that ensure they’re connected, no matter what. That begins with reliable hardware, extends to our unique customization and integration support capabilities, and is ultimately propped up on our five-year warranty. Laird Connectivity offers our customers the certainty that their wireless applications drive their organizational objectives, perform at their peak, and last for years. We’re THE antenna authority focused on your success with materials and support to match.

Visit the antenna section of our website to see our full range of antenna options, such as:

Visit www.lairdconnect.com/rf-antennas for our complete antenna portfolio.