Customer Success Stories

Advancing Surveying Systems for the Agricultural Industry with Altium

“Altium has completely changed the way we design our electronics. We’ve seen productivity and output increase by 25%. Regular updates from Altium have also made significant design improvements; the team has found the features easy to learn and adopt.”

Scott Gemmell
Engineering Manager
Leica Geosystems

Leica Geosystems are the leading designer of surveying solutions, trusted by governments and industries worldwide to capture, analyze and present spatial information.

During the development of the Leica mojoRTK (an auto-steer guidance system for precision farming applications) the company outsourced one of its boards to a contractor. It was a decision the company soon regretted.

The board was returned behind schedule and failed to meet any of its design and manufacturing requirements. Left with a defunct PCB and a looming product launch, Leica Geosystems was faced with the risk going back to the contractor, or overhauling the design to complete it in-house.

It didn’t take long for Scott Gemmell, Engineering Manager at Leica Geosystems Agriculture to make up his mind. The motto at Leica Geosystems is “when it has to be right,” so it was clear to Scott that this design had to be completed in-house. However, the process was not going to be easy. The engineers needed to recapture the board design, translate files, and carefully recreate the PCB.

Thankfully, they didn’t have to look far for a solution. Scott’s team had recently upgraded to Altium Designer and was starting to make the most of its latest features – features that completely changed the team’s design methodology.

“We can just drag and drop components, pre-approved schematic symbols and footprints straight onto the schematic. Using this feature and others in Altium Designer, we were able to review our design processes, change our philosophy and develop a much more lean development strategy.”

Scott Gemmell
Engineering Manager
Leica Geosystems

One Tool, Multiple Solutions

During product development, the design team would often suffer through a number of iterations as the PCB and product enclosures were brought together. The typically sequential process consisted of several clumsy, time consuming revisions. But with the mCAD-eCAD collaboration technology in Altium Designer, Scott and his team could reduce these revisions.  

The team could finally work more closely with its industrial design team by using IGES and STEP format files. This opened up new data sharing capabilities and allowed the electronics and mechanical teams to collaborate on the final design.

Altium Designer’s integrated database libraries allowed Scott and his team of engineers to link directly to inventory and components stored in their external databases. Using this feature, engineers could choose and place components from various databases, while creating a library specific to the project. They could also easily update and manage these databases from within their own design space.

“We can just drag and drop components, pre-approved schematic symbols and footprints straight onto the schematic. Using this feature and others in Altium Designer, we were able to review our design processes, change our philosophy and develop a much more lean development strategy,” comments Scott.

Integrated libraries also helped Scott and his team to source and cost components. “We have heavy production cycles, so we use integrated libraries to cost our products and reduce our product turn-around time.”

This, alongside the powerful 3D visualization engine in Altium Designer, helped build confidence around the design of the Leica mojoRTK. Scott has seen a big difference in his team’s prototypes and says that the feature allows them to accurately visualize the PCB in its final form.

As Scott elaborates, “The 3D interface is really speeding up the development phase and increasing our confidence in our prototypes. It just gives us that final assurance before we commit to any serious money.

Scott and his team also use the 3D mCAD-eCAD real-time dynamic clearance checking between the mechanical design and the PCB. And coupled with the unified design environment only Altium can offer, Scott and his team can make changes on the spot knowing that they will be reflected throughout the schematic and board designs.

“The 3D interface is really speeding up the development phase and increasing our confidence in our prototypes. It just gives us that final assurance before we commit to any serious money.

Scott Gemmell
Engineering Manager
Leica Geosystems

Project and System-Wide Success

By using Altium Designer in-house, Leica Geosystems successfully completed the mojoRTK product and released it to the market. The product was then successfully implemented across the agriculture industry.

But that’s not all Scott and his team was able to accomplish. “Altium has completely changed the way we design our electronics. We’ve seen productivity and output increase by 25%. Regular updates from Altium have also made significant design improvements; the team has found the features easy to learn and adopt.”

Leica Geosystems have been able to move their design process forward--without relying on outside assistance. That’s the power of Altium Designer in action.