What are COTS Products?

By: Jack Vanden Broek

3 Min Read

31 May, 2021

At LAVA we believe in leveraging the capabilities of existing resources and altering them to suit a wide range of applications. In doing so, we save both time and resources for ourselves, and for our customers. A great example of how LAVA applies this philosophy is through the development and modification of our Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) products. This article will shed light on what COTS products are, the benefits of manufacturing COTS products, and how LAVA has leveraged the technology within an existing COTS product to develop a customized solution for one of Ontario’s regional transit systems.

COTS products are items that can be put into operation immediately after production – in other words, they are ready to use as-is. They can be purchased as a standard model with no necessary additions or modifications, and used in their intended applications right out of the box. Although, depending on the product, additional steps such as installing software and settings configuration may be required. Manufacturing COTS products is therefore common in the manufacturing world due to the stable and homogenous results they produce. For reference, LAVA’s SimulCharge nSTS, eSTS, SynC, and SynC + product families are all COTS products.

There are three main benefits to manufacturing COTS products. First and foremost, COTS products are lower-cost to produce in bulk; their construction and assembly follow strict processes so they can be reliably produced in higher volumes. Secondly, standardized production strategies save on production time and tooling costs, as fully custom orders may require additional parts and labour to design and produce, thus incurring higher costs. Thirdly, standardized production processes and methods create more reliable products. Each item coming off the assembly line will meet internal product standards, and be individually tested for reliability. COTS products therefore are a safer commercial investment, more cost effective for all parties, and provide a standard line of reliable products to meet the demands of the marketplace.

At LAVA, we often take on projects in which an existing COTS product can be, and is, modified to meet a customer’s unique requirements. For example, LAVA recently completed a project for one of Ontario’s regional transit systems to upgrade their accessible transit tap payment capabilities. To complete the project, LAVA took the existing casing and hardware from one of our SynC products, and altered the casing and hardware to support an internal mobile scanner – thus creating a modified adapter we call the SynC-H. This innovation allowed us to accelerate the tap payment process for Ontarians living with disabilities in their regional transit system. By modifying an existing COTS product instead of developing an entirely new customized solution, LAVA was able to complete this project within a much smaller timeframe, stay cost efficient, and guarantee the adapter’s reliability.

Commercial off the Shelf products are manufactured with the capacity to provide solutions right out of the box, with no necessary additions. That means companies like LAVA can focus their efforts on research and development, in order to create more COTS products, or perhaps alter existing COTS products for specific usages. COTS products ultimately save companies (and their customers) time, money, and resources. At LAVA, those benefits allow us to suit our customer’s needs through innovative and tailored solutions, while remaining efficient with our manufacturing strategies. All of this goes to show we can leverage our existing knowledge and resources, use innovation and creativity, and deliver customized solutions to our customer’s technological problems.