MicroDock Docking System for Portable Gas Detectors

The Product

At BW Technologies I was the industrial designer on the team developing the company's first-generation docking station for gas detectors; MicroDock-II.

Dock stations calibrate and response-test the sensors of a connected gas detector more efficiently than if these operations were done manually. On a gas detector fleet hundreds of devices strong, this reduces service overheads by a significant margin; offering this type of accessory is therefore commercially vital as an enabler of higher detector sales volumes.

Dock stations also collect data and event logs from detectors, push applicable firmware updates, and recharge the batteries of 'parked' detectors. Each MicroDock consists of a master module as control unit to between one and ten connected detector-specific receptacle modules, with conduits for test gas (supply as well as exhaust), charge current, and data. 

Industrial Design Highlights

  • Clearly discernible match with the appropriate detector model without forcing trial and error onto users.
  • Exact same arrangement of controls on the keypad of each module; omission (visual syncope) of controls not applicable - e.g. not all detectors can be calibrated.
  • Compact spatial envelope around internal hardware components the exact configuration of which differs slightly from module to module, owing to distinct detector layouts.
  • Variations in receptacle bay size and position from module to module for the same reason, yet maintaining a sibling look amongst all module types.
  • Device retention mechanism with not only similar mechanical integrity from position to position, but also matching haptic feedback during opening and closing.
  • Insertion and retraction of devices by single-handed operation wearing protective gloves; devices must not drop out accidentally as the hatch is opened.