The Product Development Recap
Netram Technologies has been known as the online store to get electronic components and 3D Printing Supplies but what many aren’t aware of is that it's also synonymous with research and development. Netram originally started out as a research and development company in 2007 with clients such as TSA and CSIR.
After the launch of the first Arduino Duemilanove we realized that many hobbyists could become developers too and that the DIY electronics era would fuel the rapid prototyping of many great products on the market today - thus came the Netram Online Store.
We wanted to take a moment to go through some of the many projects we've worked on spanning from large industrial and mass consumer to events and television.
Since moving our HQ to Cape Town, we’ve helped build electronic custom props for movies filmed here in South Africa. Tomb Raider, Maze Runner, Bloodshot and The Dark Tower to name a few. As anyone who has worked in the industry would know, the pressure is high and expectations are even higher. We've had some pretty insane requests but once you see it behind camera, it makes it all worth it.
These are two 3D printers, one is a 2m x 2m Cartesian Style 3D Printer and the other a 2m x 3m Delta Style Machine that we were tasked to build for a pilot series called The Oasis.
The rules were that it had to be big, look rustic and it also had to print a concrete type substance (!)
We documented the entire process with pictures and videos in which we hope to do a seperate blog about.
Hero watch prop taken from the film The Dark Tower
From working in this industry we find that deadlines are short and the subject matter can change overnight. So its imperative that we always set the expectations of our development way before the deadline so both parties know what to expect before any products are delivered. Often we get requests that are not in our direct scope of work but by accessing our collective resources that we have available in this industry, there is rarely a task we cannot get done.
We team up with our strategic partners who are experts in the Special Effects field to help fabricate the exact model that the directors are looking for, we then take those models and build in electronics that allow the prop to be automated wirelessly off camera which could include anything from motion, lighting or sound control. This gives the director creative control to use practical effects rather than resorting to post production.
In the mining industry we’ve also helped developed products that make their operation safer and more efficient.
The Vehicle Tilt Monitor (VTM) from NSRT is an example of one of those exact products.
We’ve worked closely with NSRT over a number of years to get this product from idea to prototype and to producing medium large scale quantities for clients around South Africa.
The VTM is a retrofit Vehicle Tilt Monitor device for the use in mining and drilling vehicles.
It uses GPS and internal Tilt Monitors to determine the angle and maximum limits of a vehicle. Pitch and Roll activity is constantly monitored during operations in the mine. If an operator decides to move beyond it's set limit, it automatically shuts off the vehicle and alerts the supervisors via mobile notifications.
More importantly, using a technique called Untethered Dead Reckoning, the VTM combines sensor data to track a vehicles whereabouts when GPS signal is lost (Inside mines or bottom of pits)
The VTM uses J1939 CANBUS to communicate to and from the vehicle, RFID for operator registration and both 868Mhz RF and GSM communication methods to make sure the notification always gets out to the supervisors. Pre-set angle limits can be set prior to installation via a touch screen menu - the mounted display can be used as an indicator for real-time tilt angles during operation
At this moment in 2020. The VTM has already saved companies millions in machine damage and potentially saved lives in prevented accidental rolls.
If you wish to find out my more Vehicle Tilt Monitors by NSRT. Please check out www.nsrt.co.za
The VTM is a project that went from idea to prototype to manufactured packaged product. Due to the nature of red tape around this industry, this specific project took a number of months to get off the ground.
Second revision prototype to pass field testing before moving onto final production model with certifications
2019 Edition of VTM packaged with multiplexed antenna and CANBUS Loom
Some of our earliest work has involved the retail and commercial sector. Retail environments usually involve interfacing with many different systems from different suppliers and passing information from one terminal to another. Data also has to be pushed offsite for remote viewing and analytical purposes. In most of these cases, solutions are provided on a case by case basis for specific problems.
This requires a specific data collection board to be made up and rolled out to hundreds of stores across the country.
We provide clients with their data in the form of an IoT Dashboard that enables them to view any of their collected data in real time, anytime of the day.
Collected data can also be displayed in analytical format to determine trends and identify optimization processes
Examples a few of these projects are:
- Client Counting: Automatically measuring the number of people in a store at any given time
- Queue Management Systems: Relaying signals to display media or trigger audio queues to call on the next customer
- Kiosk Interfacing: Touch Screen Setups usually need to interface with thermal printers or card machines. Specific boards are developed to manage this process and ensure seamless communication between hardware from different suppliers.
These are a few of the custom data collection and interfacing boards designed for the commercial sector
This is just a recap of some of the many projects we've worked on over the years. We hope to post more in-depth and documented blogs about the development process.
Thanks - that puts NETRAM in a completely different light! I wish I had known about this earlier.