Winner of the 2010 Javelin Green Design Contest – Wingspan Design, Ottawa, Ontario

Article by John Carlan updated April 22, 2010


Javelin is pleased to announce the winner of our 2010 Green Design Contest, Wingspan Design from Ottawa, Ontario. Wingspan’s Energate Thermostat was judged to be the design that offered the most potential environmental benefit and had a very interesting SolidWorks design story as well.  Congratulations Wingspan!

2010 Green Design Contest Winner: Energate Thermostat

Product Name: Inspiration & Pioneer Smart Thermostats with Consumer Demand Response Technology

Product Function: The products are residential home thermostats with built-in power-saving intelligence and remote control capabilities.

For homeowners, these devices allow detailed set-up of heating and cooling schedules for their homes to reduce superfluous energy consumption, while the onboard software works behind the scenes to optimize the operation of furnaces, central air conditioners and other home comfort equipment to ensure they are cycled on and off efficiently, which is often a hidden source of extra energy costs.

With the homeowners support, utilities gain the ability to make subtle yet crucial adjustments in temperature to entire streets, neighbourhoods, and even across cities!  By adjusting large number of thermostats by 1 or 2 degrees, utilities can prevent power surges, brownouts and even blackouts with a minimum of impact to people at home.

With the introduction of structured energy pricing, electricity will costs different amounts at different times of day.  These wirelessly connected devices are also equipped to deliver the colour coded pricing into the home, and can be programmed to self-adjust to keep energy costs low.  So if your air conditioner is set for maximum comfort when the price of electricity spikes into the red, your smart thermostat will enter price control mode to run equipment as little as possible.

The architecture of the 2 devices is designed to be future-proof.  Wireless connectivity allows remote software upgrades and web connection to online power management and learning tools.  The soft-key interface allows for new menus and features to be added for future application.  The OS also permits third-party software integration and on-screen graphics use to enable non-standard functionality such as weather forecast information.  The device has extra wire connectors to allow future connection of new equipment.

The physical enclosures were designed for disassembly and material recovery.  All components are a single material and clearly identified for recycling.  The modular PCB’s allow for simple field repair or replacement of parts.  The modular backplane where the wires connect is standardized to allow the homeowner to swap an entry-level device for a more advanced unit when they desire more complex power management.

How did SolidWorks help: SolidWorks was used during every stage of the design process.  3D digital prototypes allowed us to visualize the aesthetics, shrink the form around the electronics, and produce rapid prototype enclosures for testing.

Once target designs were selected, we built complete, detailed engineering CAD.  These detailed simulations allowed us to model thermal requirements (CFM), test for enclosure strength (FEA), and minimize wall thicknesses while keep the desired performance of the parts.

Documentation and 3D files provided the detailed information for tooling with no errors and parts that worked exactly as intended on the initial manufacturing run.  No rework was required and virtually no scrap was produced.

Product Quality Improvement: Reduced total development lead time to 8 months; Reduced enclosure material weight 12% for desired strength; fully accurate design eliminated typical manufacturing scrap on 1st run to 0%

Design Cost Saving: Total program cost 50% of previous similar programs; Design re-use and modularity for 2 units saved 30% tooling costs

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John Carlan