One of the most exciting parts of Circuitwise’s business is when we get to do Turnkey Product Assembly for our clients. Not all our clients realise we do more than PCB assembly, that we can also do final assembly (box build) of the finished product. We can assemble, package and store it, ready for shipping to the end-user.
That is why we thought we would showcase our latest turnkey project for Concourse Golf’s Smart Wheels product. The Smart Wheels are the world’s first self-drive wheels that can be retro-fitted to existing push buggies used in golf.
The wheels contain batteries and an electric motor that enables a buggy to be self-propelled. A remote-control unit is included so the golfer can steer the buggy down the fairway while walking beside it or in the rough. A universal connection allows the wheels to be fitted to almost any existing push buggy with a simple press-button wheel release.
Inside the hub of each wheel is what Concourse describes as a “powerhouse of advanced technology”. The product’s 98Wh lithium batteries last 18 holes comfortably and comply with the dangerous good limit for airline travel. The motor provides efficient power delivery to climb steep terrain. The wheels are charged in 3 to 4 hours.
Dual power units and smart controls enable precision steering and intuitive terrain response. The cruise control option maintains a constant speed up and down hills, with inbuilt braking going downhill, plus the intuitive ability to track straight when traversing hills. There are seven forward speed settings and one reverse speed.
What all this power and functionality amounts to is a complex assembly challenge. Circuitwise was awarded the task of first creating the sub-assemblies and then bringing the final product together. The main sub-assemblies were the gearbox, power unit, drive train, inside wheel, and the printed circuit board assembly.
The gearbox unit is typical of the kind of final assembly work Circuitwise undertakes for clients. It involved a variety of tools and compounds, with a rigorously defined assembly procedure. Shown below are the components and equipment used with the completed gearbox sub-assembly, pictured right.
The drive train was another challenging build, with many similar looking components that had to be assembled in the correct order, as shown below.
The inside wheel sub-assembly looks very simple from the outside. However, this masks a large number of components that enable the convenient press button mechanism for releasing the wheel from the buggy.
Circuitwise had previously built the printed circuit board sub-assemblies (see below). Note how one board is stacked on top of another separated by spacers and the connectors. Circuitwise also includes serial numbers for traceability, which is included on every board we manufacture. Firmware was uploaded on each board and tested before being passed to the final assembly process.
The power unit incorporates the other sub-assemblies as well as the powerful but compact battery, shown in black at the top right of the picture below.
These sub-assemblies all fit neatly into the power unit casing show below.
The last step in the box build was integrating the rim onto the power unit and inner wheel.
Before the product leaves Circuitwise, the wheel is fully charged to ensure it is ready to go as soon as the customer buys the product.
Concourse Golf CEO David MacKay said he had previously assembled other golf products in Asia but had been keen to build in Australia for this new product. He cited the simplification of tariffs, language issues and the convenience of being able to eyeball the manufacturing process. His comments touched on most points in our blog post titled 11 reasons you should manufacture in Australia.
“Customers like to buy Australian made but at the end of the day, the price point is the deciding factor,” David said. “We were impressed with the efficiency and reliability of Circuitwise’s manufacturing processes that have brought it to price parity with Asian manufacturers. From a mechanical point of view, a lot is going on in a small space and the manufacturing has to be flawless. Circuitwise gave us the confidence we needed for this advanced product.”
Another key reason Concourse chose Circuitwise is that the company is planning our apply its Smart Wheel technology in the medical field, and Circuitwise’s ISO 13485 certification for medical devices manufacture made the decision easier.
The next product Concourse will release is to apply its smart wheel technology to wheelchairs. This application is a larger market than golf and will deliver life-changing benefits for permanent wheelchair users.
“Arms are simply not designed to push wheels thousands of times a day,” David said. “63% of long-term manual wheelchair users will have a rotator cuff tear, which is very painful, debilitating and hard to heal.
“The impact of a shoulder injury on a wheelchair user is immense and costly due to the increased reliance on carers. Power assist technology not only helps prevent injuries, it allows manual wheelchair users to go further, steeper and longer. This increases independence and greatly enhances the lifestyle of permanent wheelchair users.”
David said the technology will be well supported by governments as injuries for people with disabilities is a great economic burden on health systems. It will also be particularly useful in paediatrics as it will help get children independent earlier.
“The self-contained compactness is a key factor as well,” David said. “Most current powered wheelchairs are large and bulky. They can’t easily be lifted into cars or public transport. I might add that our technology is quite stylish too which is of great appeal to wheelchair users.”
As an assistive technology, the product falls under regulatory requirements of a medical device, governed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. As an export-oriented product, it will also have to comply with the medical device regulations of a range of foreign markets such as the US and Europe. Circuitwise’s ISO 13485 certified manufacturing processes meet the needs of every aspect of medical device manufacturing.