Site Tour - Erudite Interface Technology

Kalin Gibbons


Went and checked out a local Company, EIT, which began specializing in manufacturing membrane switches and user interface sub-assemblies. I wasn't as excited for this tour as some of the others, but our tour guide gave us some new insight into the depth of the efforts engineers put into testing their projects, which was a nice surprise. This was the first company I toured that primarily shipped low-volume orders. There wasn’t a whole lot of product to check out while we were there because the company had just shipped most of them for a trade show.

One of the most interesting things Keith talked about was the massive number of tests they have to perform on each product. The company picks up contracts from the Medical, Industrial, Government, and Aerospace industries, so there are a lot of standards and tight tolerances to meet. It sounded like the engineers there often spend more time designing testing apparatus than the actual products. We got to take a look at a keyboard designed for use in military aircraft, and they had to create testing apparatus to produce the effects of an earthquake, essentially, which was supposed to simulate the kind of environment that occurs if the aircraft’s front wheel snaps off and the nose slams down on the runway. There was also a device to test what would occur if the plane was struck by lightning, and a fatigue tester that slammed the keyboard cover open and shut a few million times. For that final one, Keith offered us advice that you should spend the extra money for a pneumatic system over a servo set-up, because the servos all burned out before finishing the fatigue testing.

The company found that it was more cost-effective to outsource some of their pcb work while installing other simple pieces themselves. It sounded like the more costly or complex components would be integrated to their boards through an outside company, but they soldered on simple components like resistors and LEDs in house. It would be interesting to learn how their cost analysis was performed, since they’re tying up inventory and job design by performing some of these installs themselves.

We also got some insight into what components get swapped out when the company refurbishes their products ( keep the circuitry, exchange the input interfaces ), and designing components for modularity due to different market requirements. They designed the user interface housing for ultrasound devices that needed to be able to accept either a touchscreen, or an older trackball and button setup. This was done because of cultural differences in their global market, where some countries preferred the buttons and trackball over a touchscreen. Keith also suggested that ultrasound techs probably get the gel on their hands, and it would interfere with the capacitive touchscreens.