Not Rocket Science

14th Wednesday, 2011  |  Life at LAVA  |  no comments

Sometimes it’s not rocket science.

Loblaw Companies Limited, a large food store chain based in Canada, needed a reliable method of adding serial ports to their POS systems. They were looking for a simple workhorse serial interface to connect the usual sorts of POS peripherals — weigh scales, printers, and bar code scanners — to systems that they had already spec’d into a deployment.

They chose RS-232 in preference to USB for these interfaces because above all they needed a robust and tamper-proof connection. Speed was not an issue: the key was keeping it simple. These POS systems would be operating about 18 hours a day, and downtime would be very costly.

Quattro-PCI/LP Loblaw customization

Quattro-PCI/LP Loblaw customization

So they went with LAVA’s Quattro-PCI/LP four-port card: the combination of domestic engineering and manufacturing, unlimited free technical support, and the LAVA Lifetime Warranty were all selling points. Moreover, they wanted a low-profile PCI card with a fanout-cable, but using a full-height bracket.

Loblaw cable spacer

Loblaw cable spacer

A crucial differentiator came on the smallest of customizations however: the systems Loblaw was using were just slightly incompatible where the peripherals and the serial connector physically mated: the small screws on the cables were just slightly too long for the peripherals. This extra length was critical however: the POS stations could not be deployed with cabling that was not securely fastened between the POS system and the peripheral.

LAVA’s solution was simple: in final assembly of product for Loblaw, a small spacer was added so the cable could be positively attached to the POS station. That’s all it took, and LAVA, as the manufacturing source, was able to readily implement this customization. Problem solved!