Staying ‘mission ready’


In the past, people would only see the doctor when they were sick, and remedies would be prescribed and sick days taken. The impromptu doctor’s visit may be fortuitous, however, as it could lead to diagnosis of more serious issues that could have become catastrophic if not caught. A better way of catching these issues is yearly health checks, providing ‘preventative maintenance’ and enabling issues to be diagnosed and resolved before they become calamitous - keeping you ‘mission ready’ and able to tackle your daily life more consistently.

Technology has now introduced a plethora of wearable, smart electronic devices that constantly monitor aspects of your health, such as heart beat, breathing patterns, number of steps taken and so on. This information is then used to calculate and provide additional metrics such as calories burnt - data can help you monitor and maintain a healthy lifestyle daily. In addition, it builds a library of historical data that can identify behavioral trends – good and bad. This data can help you adjust your lifestyle to get back on track and improve your ‘mission readiness’.

Catching issues

So, what is the point of these ramblings? Well: we can draw a parallel with the ‘health’ of rugged electronic systems. Take a rugged VPX system, for example. Traditionally, on power up, the system would run a system diagnostic on power-up via P-BIT – (Power-on Built-In-Test). This is like the yearly check-up that will catch issues before embarking on a mission. However: a failure can prevent the mission from going ahead. The box is removed and replaced - which takes time and requires a large inventory of spares. But what if you get a failure during operation? This can lead to the loss of key functionality and a ‘mission abort.

The introduction of CI-BIT (Continuous/Initiated BIT) enables more constant monitoring with the ability to assess, at mission time, the health of the hardware. If a failure is detected, its severity can be determined and provide the opportunity to continue the mission with reduced functionality. If redundancy is architected into both the hardware and software design, then the application can potentially re-allocate resources dynamically, and continue operation as normal.

Getting smarter

Now, if you can add monitoring of a variety of sensor data and other metrics such as temperatures, supply voltages, disk writes and the like, you can get even smarter. Not only can it help pin-point system problems with much better granularity - reducing time and cost of repairs - it can also enable you to identify system behavior leading up to a problem. Patterns of behavior can be identified and analysis applied to identify impending failures and replace a system ahead of a mission.

To make this practical, a software framework is required to facilitate gathering of this sensor data and collation of metrics across boards and systems on a platform. It needs to provide efficient distribution to multiple consumer applications tasked with ensuring both short- and long-term mission readiness.

Abaco is developing such a framework - so expect to see some announcements in the coming months on our progress. We’re committed to helping our customers stay ‘mission ready’.

If you’re interested in knowing more before those announcements, talk to your Abaco contact or get in touch with us here.

 

 

The above image was released by the United States Navy and is in the public domain.


David Tetley's picture

David Tetley

David is engineering manager of Abaco Systems' HPEC Center of Excellence in Boston, responsible for both the AXIS software suite and HPEC system development. He has a background in military signal and image processing, starting his career as a scientific officer for the UK Ministry of Defence working with lasers and missile seeker technology, and then moving into software development in the days of the Texas instruments C40 and Analog Devices Sharc processors. As engineering manager in Boston, he has led the development of the AXIS software suite and helped shape Abaco’s HPEC strategy.

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