U.S. Army Searches for Production-Ready ECUs to Avoid Costly Electronic Obsolescence
New Eagle develops a solution to keep valuable fleet active
Imagine if a Caterpillar truck and a forklift had a military-grade baby – you’d get something very similar to a Rough Terrain Container Handler (RTCH), which is what the United States Army regularly relies on to move shipping containers on less than ideal terrain.
The management of shipping handlers has never been more important. So, when the Army’s RTCH ECU and display supplier ceased production, they needed a solution to keep their fleet of over 2,000 RTCHs active or scrap the vehicles worth $2 million each.
In order to salvage the $4 billion fleet, the U.S. Army decided they would find a way to build replacement parts. To ensure the vehicles functioned the same as they did under the old ECUs, the replacement parts needed to fit these requirements:
- The control system needed to employ all control functions, displays, and diagnostics while fitting into the existing RTCH architecture.
- The solution must use proven Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) controllers and customized software
Automation Alley, a Michigan-based non-profit with a focus on Industry 4.0, awarded New Eagle the Army contract. So, New Eagle began to outline a multi-phase approach that would meet the above requirements while saving the Army a significant amount of time and money.
New Eagle’s Approach
Obsolescence inevitably claims all of our electronics – even the U.S. Army’s. Whether it be planned obsolescence, technological evolution, or changes in regulations – New Eagle has plenty of experience providing solutions for controller systems reaching the end of life.
In the U.S. Army’s case, the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) specifications for the obsolete ECUs were not available. This meant that New Eagle needed to start from scratch and reproduce the system to create a representative part.
The key to this approach is New Eagle’s embedded Model-Based Development platform (eMBD) Raptor™. The Raptor Platform is a combination of rugged and production-ready tools, software, and electronic components that enable the efficient development of software on COTS controllers and displays.
New Eagle’s Solution
The first step of New Eagle’s plan was to define the objectives and requirements for the RTCH vehicles, such as determining how the ECUs interacted with other controllers on the unit.
To begin, New Eagle would have to evaluate the existing RTCH’s controller systems to:
- Understand the function of the original ECUs
- Monitor how electrical interfaces were implemented with the existing controllers
To recreate the system, New Eagle had to iteratively test the new RTCH system against the old. With Raptor’s model-based development, which uses content contained in drag and drop blocks rather than lines of code, developers were able to accelerate this iterative testing design process.
Next, New Eagle created the Technical Data Package (TDP). This provided all of the necessary information for implementing the new ECU and was written in a way that any serviceman or servicewoman in the field would be able to repair the system if needed.
Upon delivery of all three ECU prototypes to the U.S. Army, New Eagle validated the controllers with the RTCHs. New Eagle didn’t stop there though. The team assisted in the installation and testing of the ECUs onsite at the Aberdeen Test Center, where they also demonstrated to the Army development team how to perform software updates based on tests and feedback.
Results and Impact
As of today, dozens of RTCHs have been saved with even more scheduled to receive New Eagle’s ECUs. Instead of scrapping the RTCHs, the Army now has a reliable supply of proven COTS ECU components, professional integration, and detailed documentation that will keep their valuable vehicles operational for years to come.
Due to the success of the project, the Army is now looking to New Eagle to help provide solutions to other electronic systems facing obsolescence.
Raptor and New Eagle’s commitment to collaboration allow the ECU provider to create trusted partnerships for businesses all over the country. New Eagle was honored to provide assistance to the military men and women in the U.S. Army.
If you want to learn more about how New Eagle’s Raptor Platform can handle your vehicle development process from prototype to production, download the Raptor ebook.