Success Story

Olivetti introduces complex, IoT-enabled products with confidence by switching to CADSTAR

Olivetti

With the emergence of the Smart Office and the Smart Home, Olivetti maintains its position as a leading OEM of high-reliability products through its rigorous design, production and test procedures. Design for re-use, design for manufacture and design for test are the company’s drivers, and Zuken’s CADSTAR empowers Olivetti’s engineers to develop ever more complex PCBs that must work in an increasingly EM noisy environment; particularly with the introduction of IoT-enabled devices.

During recent years, designing with EMC in mind has gained renewed importance to Olivetti. Many of its products employ wireless communication protocols, and the company is currently developing IoT-enabled devices. Olivetti realised it could only assure reliability through rigorous test procedures and by using the latest technologies. With its increasingly demanding use of Zuken’s CADSTAR, Olivetti is keeping to an ambitious technology innovation roadmap without placing time- and volume-to-market goals at risk.

Olivetti 3D IoT Printer

An Olivetti, IoT-enabled, 3D printer

Outcomes

  • Ever more complex PCBs developed while maintaining quality, in an increasingly EM noisy environment
  • Achieved an ambitious technology innovation roadmap without placing time- and volume-to-market goals at risk.
  • Reliability in IoT-enabled devices is assured through rigorous test procedures using CADSTAR
  • Built-in design rules allow for high-density boards with test points on both sides.

"We’re extremely satisfied with CADSTAR, which has a precision feel that is very impressive for the relatively low cost. And we’re very satisfied with Zuken as a company. It gives us the confidence to ask more and more of CADSTAR on future projects.”
Giovanni Valetti, Senior Engineer, Olivetti

  

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Founded in 1908, Olivetti is world renowned for its office equipment. In 1965 the company launched the Programma 101, widely regarded as the world’s first electronic desktop calculator. During the 1970s and 1980s, Olivetti was reputedly the second largest OEM of office computers, after IBM.

Today, Olivetti is a leading company in the Office and Retail market, a point of reference for IT solutions and advanced digital services for the business world; and is the digital hub of the TIM Group. For the retail and office sector, Olivetti offers a wide range of state-of-the-art hardware and software products, plus turnkey solutions capable of automating business processes and activities for SMEs, major companies and vertical markets.

Olivetti Form 200
Olivetti Form 200 cash register – one of man products for which CADSTAR was used to design the PCB.

Olivetti Gaming Printer
Olivetti gaming printer for the printing of tickets and receipts.

Olivetti Meter Radio Unit
An Olivetti meter radio unit for handling the wireless connection between a meter (for gas consumption, for example) and a host system.

Olivetti Palazzo
Olivetti’s headquarters in Ivrea, Italy, where product development takes place home to a 30-strong team of engineers, responsible for hardware, firmware, software and mechanical design.

In the Digital World, Olivetti provides projects and solutions linked to the IoT market, Big Data and platforms providing cloud services, thanks to investments made in the sector with the acquisition of advanced technologies.

Product development takes place at Olivetti’s headquarters in Ivrea, Italy, where there is a 30-strong team of engineers, responsible for hardware, firmware, software and mechanical design. A core activity within the team is the design, manufacture and test of the PCBs.

  

 

Migrating to CADSTAR

Olivetti - Giovanni Valetti
Giovanni Valetti, Senior Engineer responsible for PCBs at Olivetti.

The Ivrea-based team handles up to 15 PCB designs a year using CADSTAR. Giovanni Valetti, Senior Engineer responsible for PCBs, comments: “We first evaluated CADSTAR in 2007 and were very impressed with its price-performance benefits. CADSTAR represented far better value-for-money than our existing tools, which came from one of the four main PCB design software vendors. We therefore switched to CADSTAR in 2009, which was an extremely smooth process thanks to the level of in-country support – another plus in Zuken’s favour – when it came to migrating our legacy and then current designs. The training was great too, enabling us to quickly get up to speed.”

 

Space constraints and large pin counts

PCB sizes vary from 5 to 20 square inches and a typical board for a printer will have eight layers and 500 components. Depending on the mix of passives and ICs, the number of pins/pads will vary from 1,800 to 2,200, with the number of nets varying from 900 to 1,700. Valetti continues: “One of the most complex designs we did recently had 902 components, three of which were high-pin-count BGAs. In total, there were about 3,000 pins/pads and about 2,000 nets for that design.”

Olivetti PCBThe main PCB from a high-end cash register. It was one of the more complex projects undertaken in recent years.
The stats are: Board area = 33 sq inches, Layers = 8, Component count = 891, Pin count = 2997, Net count = 629, Connection count = 2548, Test points =621.

 

Olivetti PSU A multi-input power supply designed for a number of IoT projects.
The starts are: Board area = 12.4 sq inches, Layers = 4, Component count = 891, Pin count = 473. Net count = 98, Connection count = 268, Test points = 0 (functional test only).

Due to space constraints, most boards are double-sided and Valleti typically receives board outlines on which some components have already been placed. These pre-placements will typically include connectors, positioned because of planned cable routing, high skyline components and devices with thermal management requirements, for example. For the remaining components, Valetti has a free hand in their placement, but always follows the company’s well-established rules for designing with EMC/SI in mind.

 

Maximising design reuse

Design re-use is of great importance to Olivetti and core building blocks – such as motor drivers, power supplies and memory controllers – frequently migrate within and between product families. “Many projects will use a previous design as a starting point,” explains Valetti. “Changes made to that schematic are then forward-annotated to its corresponding PCB layout file, which is also copied.” As for Olivetti’s data management practices, these include the use and maintenance of a single component library, from which all projects draw.

 

Design for test gives field reliability

Design for test is extremely high on Olivetti’s priorities too. Gianfranco Mereu, also a Senior Engineer with Olivetti, notes: “Having the best build quality possible does much to ensure product reliability in the field, and to maintain Olivetti’s good reputation. Functional tests suffice for most of our PCBs, and for the majority we also do in-circuit test (ICT) to verify the electrical connectivity between pins/pads, confirm component values for passives, and check for possible shorts. Automated optical inspection (AOI) is performed in some cases too.”

For ICT it is necessary for the PCBs to have test pads and, in this respect, Olivetti has high expectations. Valetti comments: “In the ideal world we’d have one test point per pin/pad but that’s just not possible. Instead we strive for one per net, and for high-density boards that sometimes means test points on both sides – which has cost implications – so we really try to avoid that.”

The team’s test engineers provide test point dimensions as well as clearance requirements (between test points and between test points and components) and it is Valetti’s responsibility to place these. Some come from blind or buried nets plus, of course, the very introduction or of test points can affect EMC. Here, CADSTAR comes into its own. “The tool’s built-in design rules are extremely useful for the kind of topologies we’re dealing with. The rules police what we do, but are flexible at the same time.”

 

Cutting time to market

CADSTAR has, in Valetti’s opinion, boosted the team’s overall productivity and is shortening the time to market for many of Olivetti’s products. “We’re extremely satisfied with CADSTAR, which has a precision feel that is very impressive for the relatively low cost. And we’re very satisfied with Zuken as a company. We recognised early on that that the local support would be good, and that’s certainly proving to be the case. It gives us the confidence to ask more and more of CADSTAR on future projects.”