SOFREL S4: a fine example of collaboration with LACROIX Sofrel to achieve an IIoT product
Following a call for tender, LACROIX Sofrel chose LACROIX Electronics to support it in the electronic design, industrialization and production of its new-generation telemetry platform S4. The challenge at hand was considerable, with investment approaching 10 million euros over four years (2012-2016).
Here is a recap on a successful collaboration worthy of LACROIX Group’s ambitions:
SOFREL x ELECTRONICS
Founded in 1971, LACROIX Sofrel designs and commercialises solutions for connected-technical-installations telemetry. With its expertise in the monitoring and the remote management of water networks (drinking water and waste water), LACROIX Sofrel also works with heating networks and is recognised as France’s leader in telemetry.
“Projects of this scale require support from solid and reliable vendors. LACROIX Electronics’ advantage is to be in control of the whole design and manufacturing process. " Frédéric Chevalier - Supply Chain & Quality Manager at LACROIX Sofrel
The geographical proximity of the engineering office and factory, which are both located less than 150 km from LACROIX Sofrel, was a contributing factor in researching and producing the best product possible. A product designed and manufactured in France with the concern of an optimized cost price.
Bringing together a dedicated project-team, comprising members of each of LACROIX Group’s business areas, enabled major responsiveness and a better timeframe for the product’s launch. By centralizing research and production in our own facilities, LACROIX Sofrel secured a smooth transition from design to manufacturing, with no additional industrialization phase.
PRODUCT 4.0’S KEY ASPECTS
To respond to its market and to its clients’ expectations, LACROIX Sofrel imagined the S4 ecosystem. A solution made disruptive by its compactness and ease-of-implementation, applied in particular to hydraulic networks (S4W) and energy networks (S4TH).
"Beyond the requirements in ergonomics, the teams had to integrate new considerations relating to connected objects. Cybersecurity has become a major issue for water and energy management sites.” Jean-Michel Meric, Head of R&D at LACROIX Sofrel
It was also essential for the end product to stand the test of time, with a life cycle of approximately fifteen years. Finally, also key in launching this new range was to control manufacturing costs, to attain the product’s retail price objective.
“Compact, simple, modular, durable and competitive… For the S4, we set the bar very high at the outset at all levels, to provide a premium solution which would be suited to the range of key issues identified in the field. ” Igor Houdant- Hardware R&D Manager at LACROIX Sofrel
COLLABORATION THAT MEETS EXPECTATIONS
This project’s success relies on two key factors: LACROIX Sofrel’s commitment to involve our engineers from the very start of the project, and the ability of our respective teams to collaborate. Since the research phase, we’ve enabled follow-up on the new range of LACROIX Sofrel products, from the design phase to the manufacturing phase. This design allowed us to integrate the requirements for the product’s serial manufacturing upstream, and to transform them into a product which was in keeping with the original specification document.
Applying various design rules (Design For Manufacturing) ahead of the platform’s industrialization meant that the usual non-quality or non-compliance costs could be cut; all products were, in fact, designed for optimal testing (Design To Test). In order to align technical feasibility with cost objectives, we were also active in purchasing electronic components (Design for Procurement) so as to offer the best possible value for money.
In total, as part of the S4 project, we designed thirteen electronic cards broken down into seven compact product versions, six communication modules and around ten input and output modules.
“Over more than four years of close collaboration with our colleagues at LACROIX Sofrel, we’ve successfully completed a highly ambitious project and are justly proud to have supported them in developing the S4 technological platform!” Antonio Ribeiro - Account Manager at LACROIX Electronics