Achieving the right balance between standardization and customizability
One of the toughest challenges you face in designing a product like the VIA Mobile360 Forklift Safety System is achieving the right balance between standardization and customizability.
Standardization of the hardware, software, and peripheral components is essential for achieving scale and keeping costs at a reasonable level. Customizability is also critical in order to meet the diverse deployment requirements and use cases that characterize vertical B2B markets. One question we have had to address is whether to include seatbelt and speed sensors as standard or optional features in the system. Connectivity has been another critical issue, with some customers asking for 4G and even 5G wireless. The list goes on!
Our design approach has been to focus on the development of the core people detection functionality of the system delivered through the front and rear cameras. We have dedicated a huge amount of resources to optimizing the algorithm for multiple scenarios so that it can detect parts of bodies against complex backgrounds and eliminate false positives. As the system rolls out in volume, we will be able to further improve its people detection functionality as the number of scenarios it encounters increases.
Standardizing the system hardware isn’t just critical for optimizing functionality and performance. It’s also essential for ensuring stable production — a particularly important consideration at a time when supply chains are so tight and shortages of critical components can lead to frustrating delays. We have worked very closely with our system, camera, and other peripheral manufacturing partners to build a reliable ecosystem that can rapidly respond to changing market conditions.
Simplifying installation has been another core element of our approach to standardization. This has included the development of magnetized camera mounting brackets for bare metal installation, as well as the VIA Mobile360 WorkX smart phone app to facilitate camera calibration and set up the appropriate people detection zones. This makes it possible for customers to install the system on the most popular forklift models without the need for specialist support.
With the VIA Mobile360 Forklift Safety System we have developed a standardized product that meets a real need in the market for pedestrian collision avoidance. Now that we have launched the system, we have a solid platform in place for integrating more customization options that meet customers’ additional needs.