When off-the-shelf servoamps more than meet project needs, custom-designed amps might still be the better choice.
Custom amplifier development path
Risk management is the key to successful development of a custom servoamplifier. The following principles can serve as a guide along the custom development path.
Partnership: The vendor and the machine builder are partners. A spirit of cooperation is key at all levels, be it management, engineering, or operations. Program management: The vendor must field skilled and experienced program managers dedicated to the development of the product while remaining sensitive to the needs of the machine builder.
Product specification: Product requirements should never reside permanently in the imagination of one person or another. Requirements must be written in detailed specifications. Ideally, the vendor would write this specification based on input from the machine builder. In this way, the vendor gains a deep understanding of what the machine builder is looking for while the machine builder can see whether the vendor actually understands the needs. The vendor and the machine builder may reiterate the specifications several times to develop a closer understanding. The final specifications are then agreed upon at a formal design review.
Avoid changes: Of course, some change to the specification may be required as the program progresses. However, continual or significant changes will adversely impact the schedule, and perhaps even the final product. Changes made late in the program are far more difficult to integrate into the original design. Late changes typically end up as patches added to the software and hardware. This can severely impact the functionality and reliability of the end product.
Be an active partner: The most successful programs are those where the partners take active roles in program development. A specific role may not involve any actual development work, but certainly involves keeping up to date, on a weekly basis, with development progress.