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Defense

Pioneer in Obsolescence Management and Legacy Sustainment for embedded technology

  • DMSMS 2012 – Evacuation from Hurricane Isaac and Collaboration in Action

    DMSMS 2012 – Evacuation from Hurricane Isaac and Collaboration in Action

    Proactive obsolescence management can often be an adventure.  I like to think of it as a cross-industry supply chain game of chess.  On one side, you have legacy experts like GDCA, with a quarter of a century of experience sustaining legacy systems.  On the other side you have counterfeit risk, disruptive technology and time.

    This year, we had an additional player when it comes to long-term support adventures: Hurricane Isaac.

    “DMSMS” is a defense industry term and you can’t talk about embedded obsolescence management without eventually coming across it.  For anyone not familiar with it, it stands for Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages.  These shortages can happen due to ongoing disruptive technology (going from NAND to DRAM), environmental disaster (such a flooding in Thailand or the nuclear emergencies in Japan), and plain old EOL.  And, because you can’t always predict how obsolescence and end-of-life is going to impact a supply chain, you can imagine that the DMSMS conference is something we at GDCA look forward to every year.

  • What do vintage cars and embedded boards have in common?

    What do vintage cars and embedded boards have in common?

    They both get harder to maintain as they get older, and if you don’t plan for obsolescence, they can both fail.

    It’s common sense.  As things get older, they become more expensive to maintain. For example, an antique car was state-of-the art when it first came out. It performed beautifully, and the parts were easy to find. If it had any real problems, it could be taken into the dealer for repairs. However, now that the car is a classic, it requires a lot more upkeep. In the past, it only needed to be taken in for oil changes and tune ups. Now it needs a new transmission, replacement brakes, a new timing belt and a new radiator… and as time passes, the mechanic can’t even get the parts he needs to fix it.

    As the components become harder to find, the odds that your car can even feasibly be repaired get more remote.  At first, you might scour junkyards and advertise online, looking for those crucial pieces of equipment, but eventually you will probably end up having to find someone who can reverse engineer or custom build  the needed parts for you. And now a part that may have been $300 new is going to cost you hundreds more — if not thousands.

    With each transaction, that car gets more and more expensive to fix and maintain, but some cars just can’t be replaced.

  • Vehicle Electronics and the U.S. Army’s New VICTORY Standard

    You can see in the picture of this Humvee (HMMWV), with all the bolt-on equipment there is barely room for the driver.

    Imagine, in order to do your daily job, you had Linux for email, an Apple II for web browsing, an old Windows 95 tower for excel spreadsheets, and a DOS machine for word processing. Rotary phones only work for some people you need to call, and you need a cellphone for others. Floppy drives, zip disks, punch cards, tape spools, fax machines, scanners, and a dot matrix printer… and the various hardware is all proprietary, yet necessary.  Not only is there no room for you at your desk, you seem to spend a lot of time (on your touch-tone phone) with technical support.

    Like the image above, modern combat vehicle electronics can resemble a bowl of hardware spaghetti.  Different “bolt-on” devices and adaptors are stitched together by multiple suppliers who may be using different standards and interfaces.  With barely enough room for a soldier wearing body armor, integration and interoperability have become key concerns.

  • Condition-Based-Maintenance (CBM): The leading edge of proactive sustainment

    With its first flight in 1978, the F-18 Hornet is a prime example of legacy, military applications still in use today. With a lifecycle of over 30 years, it has been the demonstration aircraft for the Blue Angels, since 1986.

    Defense Maintenance & Sustainment Summit
    (DMS 2012)
    February 27-29, 2012, | La Jolla, California

    It was my first time attending WBR’s Defense Maintenance & Sustainment Summit, and it was fascinating to hear about best practices from the many government attendees and their commercial partners.

    The focus was CBM (condition-based-maintenance), a sustainment approach that involves installing sensors onto defense equipment, and then remotely monitoring the actual performance of critical systems within a fielded craft – such as a plane or land vehicle.

    So why is this so interesting?

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