Abaco Systems addresses the issue at all stages of the program lifecycle, from designed-in compatibility across generations of products, to a highly resourced team of design engineers and support staff dedicated solely to supporting application
This program life-support is provided by our Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) organization. We are committed to supporting customer programs throughout their lifecycle, so we offer a range of innovative long-term support services to reduce the overall cost of ownership and provide industry-leading safeguards against component obsolescence.
For instance, product 'health checks' provide you with the assurance of proactive obsolescence monitoring, maximizing the time available to make those program-critical decisions. State-of-the-art environmentally controlled storage facilities are available for either components or finished products, preserving them for future use.
We also have dedicated repair facilities which include test and diagnostic equipment often found only in a product development environment. Being dedicated to the role of 'repairs' helps ensure that these skilled teams of technicians are focused on providing you with the best possible RMA turnaround service.
All of these services are underpinned by the founding principle of our PLM model: preserving product knowledge, skills and facilities for as long as customer programs require them. So, when obsolescence strikes, we have the skilled engineering resource available to maximize the options available to you.
When you need to be proactive about the long-term support of your program, Abaco Systems has the simple, flexible and effective solutions to meet your needs.
Configuration Management Service
Our technology insertion philosophy allows customers to seamlessly integrate new, higher performance hardware technologies while retaining form, fit and function and application software compatibility. This capability is enormously attractive to companies in the defense and aerospace market where the life of a program is often measured in decades.
In addition, these companies have invested significant time and effort in detailed system integration and validation, and they want to be an integral part of the configuration management/change approval process throughout the life of the program. Controlling the configuration is an important part of their risk-reduction strategy. Our Configuration Management Service is designed for these customers.
Configuration Management is available as a paid service, and enables you to choose one of two options: you can choose to be informed of the changes as they occur, or you may choose to be party to approval of the changes, and therefore to control the configuration baseline.
Configuration Management is available for system and subsystem products. The process generates a manufacturing data package which identifies and records both the hardware and software configurations. These include, for example: build state; address mapping; I/O configurations; BSP, drivers and BIT diagnostic firmware requirements; and revision level status of the system elements. Controlled configuration ensures that later purchases of the same equipment will be identical to the original.
Configuration Management Option
Our optional Configuration Management Service is subject to an additional fee and must be specifically ordered at the time of the first order for which the service is required.
Configuration Management orders are accepted only with an initial minimum order quantity and a specific change notification contact person within your organization. The Configuration Service is available with two options:
- Option 1: Customers are notified within a fixed period of changes being implemented on a standard product and advised:
- That a change has been implemented
- The nature and reason for the change
- The earliest serial number on which the change will be implemented
- The date of the first shipment of products incorporating the change
- Option 2: Any Request for Change (RFC) made and approved by Abaco Systems regarding the product is subsequently submitted to the customer for approval. This option effectively represents a ‘design freeze' on the product in question, with only the customer able to unfreeze the design.
In our experience, there can be a tendency to over-complicate the issue of obsolescence management; in reality we would suggest that the options open to users of COTS equipment boil down to just three alternative strategies.
Under the defensive approach, the customer freezes the design of the system from the outset of production. The impact of obsolescence is then managed through a combination of component health checks, 'buy ahead' of spare parts and their long-term environmentally controlled storage. We provide these services for customers who determine that the defensive approach is their best option.
In the defensive approach, configuration control is used to manage any potential changes to the build state. Although potential obsolescence liability increases with time and the features/performance may lag behind more up-to-date systems, this defensive approach does ensure excellent equipment interchangeability and the highest in-service reliability for the whole program life.
Under the progressive approach, technology insertion comes into play. This enables regular, planned system updates which can take advantage of the latest COTS technologies, facilitated by standard product architectures and layers of software insulation. This strategy minimizes obsolescence liabilities while ensuring that features and performance stay up to date.
Both the above strategies have their potential down-sides, whether that be the potentially prohibitive cost of finding component EOL-buys, or the possibility of introducing unforeseen problems with more up to-date products. It may simply be that the circumstances of a particular program do not suit either of these strategies and maybe a combination of two might be the best approach.
Under a mixed approach, it is possible to combine the defensive approach with technology insertion to achieve the optimum result. An example of this is to break a fifteen-year project into three planned five-year cycles. Having initially frozen the design, you would use defensive techniques for the Phase 1 production monitoring obsolescence, finding EOL-buys while at the same time taking a progressive approach to planning for technology insertion system enhancements to be integrated for Phase 2. This is a good compromise for many programs, providing the benefits of the two methods outlined above while minimizing the problems associated with each of them. Abaco Systems offers a flexible array of services enabling our customers to adopt the strategy best suited to their program scenario.