An inside look at how SEACOMP streamlined Conserv's production, creating efficiencies and avoiding pitfalls with deep Design for Manufacturing expertise.


Conserv invented a new product that would transform the way preservationists monitor conditions around valuable assets. Their Smart Collection Sensor promised to fill a large gap in the market, but they were met with challenges getting there. Fed up with the difficulties of outsourcing their components and assembly from multiple vendors, Conserv sought a streamlined solution for their hardware. With decades of experience and all services under one roof, SEACOMP offered a promising partnership. As a first step, Conserv provided their Bill of Materials (BOM)—and this is where our story begins. 

But first, a bit about the product itself.

The Smart Collection Sensor

Before the Smart Collection Sensor, logging and analyzing data in museums, libraries, and archives was a drawn-out and entirely manual process. Conserv’s solution reshaped this process. The Smart Collection Sensor system integrates various sensors that measure temperature, humidity, light, and more, offering immediate insights into environmental changes. Unlike traditional methods that rely on periodic data retrieval, Conserv provides continuous monitoring. Their innovative approach replaces passive data logging with dynamic, on-demand data retrieval, eliminating the need for WiFi networks and ensuring reliable performance.

With a family member working in museums as a conservator, the founders discovered how time consuming it was for these practitioners to manually download data from various loggers throughout the museum. The Conserv founders Nathan McMinn and Austin Senseman were interested in solving collection monitoring problems with LoRaWAN, a wireless communication protocol designed for long-range communication between low-power devices. They realized a wireless solution would provide a much better experience, saving time and easing data interpretation.

After visiting the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in early 2019, they realized that despite their willingness to spend money to protect priceless collections, there was no viable solution accessible to galleries. Several years later, the MoMa would become one of Conserv’s customers.


SEACOMP is an electronics design and manufacturing services provider. With manufacturing locations in Mexico and China, we offer flexibility depending on your geographical location, goals and timelines. Additionally, our two brands, Displaytech and HDP Power, support your component needs through embedded LCD displays and AC DC power supplies. 

“[Conservators are] really busy, so we try to minimize the amount of maintenance that they have to do with their devices,” said Dave Mason, CEO of Conserv. “We want them to be looking at the data and taking action on it, not spending a lot of time having to collate the data and bring it into the right format.”

Design Readiness & Component Sourcing

Conserv came to SEACOMP confident in their product, and ready to take on the market. But they needed a roadmap to get there. Conserv sought a full-service partner that could not only reliably source materials and assemble their product in-house, but also offer expertise in designing a product that they could manufacture at high volumes without compromising on unit quality.

Before initiating the project, as part of our standard protocol, we conducted a thorough analysis of their Bill of Materials (BOM). This initial phase involves a detailed cost assessment, where we analyze each proposed component to ensure dependable sourcing. We found several components were ill-suited for the project's requirements, while others were simply unavailable in the market. After relaying this to Conserv, we recommended alternatives that could be reliably sourced for years to come. 

Our proactive approach resulted in more cost-effective outcomes and also minimized potential sunk costs. While the client handled the initial design phase and subsequent redesign necessitated by the component switches, we focused on the crucial task of Design for Manufacturing (DFM). This phase began after finalizing the selection and sourcing of the new components, ensuring that the redesigned product would integrate both efficiency and effectiveness into its core design.

"There were really two things that we had looked at SEACOMP to help us solve. The first was making sure that the design we were about to bring into production was truly ready for manufacturing", said Dave Mason CEO of Conserv. "And the second thing was, somebody who would kind of work with us, given that we were in that sort of transitory phase. And would help work us through the inevitable challenges and speed bumps that we would encounter along the way. Because when you're making that kind of a transition, there's always going to be issues that arise."

Design readiness was pivotal in kicking off this project. Leveraging our DFM expertise, we worked collaboratively with Conserv to optimize the Smart Collection Sensor Design for efficiency, manufacturability, and reliability - laying a solid foundation for scalable production down the line.

The Requirements: Hardware Design & Components

Together, the Smart Collection Sensor’s hardware and software components form a cohesive ecosystem, enabling proactive environmental monitoring and management. On the hardware front, the system uses sensors to monitor temperature, humidity, light, gathering real-time data. The software aggregates, processes, and visualizes the collected data. Through intuitive interfaces and customizable dashboards, users can access actionable insights, set alerts, and make informed decisions to mitigate risks. 

The three primary components of the Smart Collection Sensor were: 

    • The Battery 
    • The Sensors
    • The Form Factor

Battery Considerations

  • Lithium Thionyl Chloride Battery
  • Extended battery life to last the product’s lifecycle (6-10 years)
  • Requires ultra low power (ULP) to extend the battery life

Sensor Considerations

  • Wireless sensors for use with LoRaWAN to transmit data 
  • Must detect environmental changes in temperature, humidity, light / UV (illuminance)

Form Factor Considerations

  • Must be easy to mount
  • Must have a sleek design that blends in (does not stand out/draw attention)
  • Must be low-profile
  • Must have a transparent lens for environmental detection
  • Must not require messy removal and re-installation throughout its lifecycle

Navigating Success Through Proven Processes 

SEACOMP offers turnkey electronics manufacturing solutions that cover design, prototyping, production, and testing under one roof. Through this approach, we can coordinate between various stages of the manufacturing process, ensuring efficiency, consistency, and quality control at every step. 

Our approach is comprehensive, but at the same time, flexible enough to handle the unique challenges that come with project variations. In the case of Conserv’s product, our Design for Manufacturing (DFM) process played a big role.

The Protective Power of DFM

DFM is a strategic process to identify and safeguard against potential manufacturing challenges. It involves a systematic approach to identify and address potential manufacturing challenges early in the design phase. The DFM process typically begins with an analysis of the product's design, considering factors such as materials, components, assembly methods, and production techniques. By leveraging advanced CAD software and simulation tools, engineers can evaluate design alternatives and identify areas for improvement.

Here are some key considerations in the DFM process: 

    • Simplifying the product's structure
    • Reducing the number of components
    • Optimizing material selection
    • Costing and scalability

Collaboration between design engineers and manufacturing experts is crucial to ensure alignment between design intent and manufacturing capabilities. Iterative prototyping and testing help validate design decisions and refine the product for optimal manufacturability. By proactively addressing manufacturing constraints and optimizing design features, we can accelerate time-to-market, reduce production costs, and enhance product quality.

“When we came to the new design [SEACOMP] helped us kind of figure out where there were issues that we hadn't considered, helping dial in things like the enclosure for our sensor and making sure that that would be produced reliably over hundreds and thousands of units, " said Dave Mason. “And so that process of the support alongside, building out those processes, I think was really great.”


Ultimately, the DFM process facilitates a smooth transition from design concept to mass production.

Conserv gallery resized

Safeguarding Efficiencies 

Snap-Fit Lens Solution

During the DFM phase, the SEACOMP team realized that assembling the product with adhesive would not work. It proved inefficient, demanding too much labor and time. Prototyping also showed that the adhesive was damaging the humidity sensor, meaning it was error-prone.

Our solution was a snap-fit lens. It required a tooling modification to the sensor lens and housing. Conserv was also seeing blurs and blemishing on plastics from their prior vendor, which we were able to solve through our DFM and tooling studies. While this was a fairly simple modification, it was a notable improvement in the assembly.

Streamlined & Specialized Testing

Conserv required a highly specific calibration test procedure for the temperature, humidity, light, and UV sensors, which needed to take place in a highly controlled environment. SEACOMP developed a special partitioned and controlled area for this testing.

Previously, Conserv sourced their components and assembly separately. SEACOMP was able to do both in-house, creating a sense of ease for the customer. SEACOMP is a DG (dangerous goods) approved shipper, and also certified Conserv’s device with UN 38.3 for safe transportation.

SEACOMP’S Certifications

The products we design and manufacture need to meet high standards. Beyond standard safety and compliance certifications, we go the extra mile to help our customers’ products excel in quality and reliability.

UN 38.3


DG Shipping


ISO 9001:2015




The Outcome

SEACOMP and Conserv were successful at bringing the product to market within seven months.

Here are some of the notable locations that use Conserv’s monitoring product to preserve their collections:

  • Smithsonian-Conserv-Customer-Logos
  • Brown-University-Library-Conserv-Customer-Logos
  • Guggenheim-Conserv-Customer-Logos
  • Harvard-Museum-of-Comparative-Zoology-Conserv-Customer-Logos
  • Nation-Park-ServiceConserv-Customer-Logos
  • ww2_grey-1-e1624591214258
  • ADAH_grey-e1624590956562
  • GWU_grey-e1624588584218

Today, SEACOMP is continuing the partnership with Conserv, working together to improve the product with enhanced illuminance and UV measurement.

"The projects we work on at SEACOMP are typically future focused. Working with Conserv to bring technology to market that helps in preserving our collective history has been a rewarding experience."

– Terry Arbaugh, Chief Commercial Officer at SEACOMP

terry arbaugh

Conserv's environmental monitoring platform uses wireless sensors to feed real-time data into the Conserv cloud software for data analysis and threshold-based alerts; delivering temperature, RH, and light-readings with industry-leading levels of accuracy.

The wireless sensors were made specifically for conservators and preservation professionals, and leverage a built-in LoRaWan network to transmit data. This eliminates the need for WiFi and provides a far better range through a wider variety of building materials.

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