U.S. Army Searches for Production-Ready ECUs to Avoid Costly Electronic Obsolescence

army RTCH project cover image

Electronic obsolescence can create business challenges for any manufacturer, but what’s causing it and how can you avoid it?

One reason is technological evolution. This evolution is driving new requirements that create technical desuetude in components. With increasingly shorter lifecycles of components, systems are becoming obsolete faster than ever before.

Additional factors for discontinued components are Environmental policies and legislation. For example, the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive 2002/95/EC restricts the use of materials used in various types of electronic and electrical equipment. This includes printed circuit boards. For many controller manufacturers, this type of regulation means the need for redesigned or upgraded product lines to meet these new standards.

Similarly, the discontinuance of various components is driven by a strategy called planned product antiquation. Here, manufacturers build the obsolescence of a product into its lifecycle in order to guarantee the sale of the next-generation component.

However, this presents another issue. In order to continuously redesign control systems based on the changing availability of products, manufacturers have to allocate additional time and costs to their development process.

New Eagle’s Approach

To assist with solving electronic obsolescence, New Eagle has two approaches:

  1. Build a controller system to meet unique specifications
  2. Reverse engineer a system to create a representative part if product documentation is unavailable

The key to both of these approaches is through the use of 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 enables the efficient development of software on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) controllers and displays.

New Eagle’s mechanical integration team designs and 3D prints enclosures and connectors systems to match to Raptor. By doing so, allows the team to reverse engineer an obsolete control system.

The Challenge

The United States Army’s regularly relies on its Rough Terrain Container Handlers (RTCH) vehicles used for moving standard shipping containers on rough, uneven ground. So when an Electronic Control Units (ECUs) and Display suppliers ceased production, the U.S. Army faced a difficult dilemma: how to keep their current fleet in operation.

us-army-rtch

Instead of discarding the fielded equipment, they decided to build replacement parts for the RTCH. To ensure it functioned exactly as it had under the control of the original ECUs, this decision came with the following requirements:

  • The controllers need to employ all control function, display, and diagnostics while fitting into the existing RTCH architecture.
  • The solution must use proven COTS controllers and customized software

To achieve these requisites, the new ECUs required upfitting onto the unit without altering the existing mounting points and connectors.

The Solution

Automation Alley awarded New Eagle the contract to re-engineer the form, fit, and function of the original ECUs. New Eagle immediately went to work on structuring a multi-phase approach that included saving the government time and money in modernizing control units. The first step of this approach involved the confirmation of high-level vehicle objectives and requirements, such as defining how the ECUs interacted with the other controllers on the unit.

The engineering team then reversed engineered an existing RTCH to

  • Understand the function of the original ECUs
  • Monitor how the electrical interfaces were instrumented with the existing controllers

Once the control interfaces to the modules were reviewed in detail, the team redeveloped the system architecture to incorporate the ECU replacements and complete a successful system architecture prototype.

Reworking as needed to provide the best possible control, our team developed, tested, and refined the system. Once this was done, New Eagle assisted with the integration’s design and development work to meet the U.S. Army’s control goals and functionality expectations.

ecu-display

Upon delivering all three ECU’s to the U.S. Army, New Eagle demonstrated their functionality on the RTCH and ran test procedures to validate the controllers. In addition to this, the team assisted in the installation and testing of the ECUs at the Aberdeen Test Center. Here, they instructed their engineers on how to perform software updates based on testing and provided feedback.

Now, the U.S. Army is currently finalizing the Technical Data Package (TDP) to account for possibilities with competitive procurement.

Result and Impact

The United States Army has a reliable supply of proven ECU components, professional integration, and detailed documentation for a consistent, high-quality performing RTCH fleet. With working ECU replacements in RTCH, the U.S. Government will save millions of dollars by eliminating the need to purchase new equipment.

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Kolberg-Pioneer, Inc. and New Eagle Build an Electric Hybrid Rock Crusher

Kolberg-Pioneer, Inc. (KPI), a company of over 500 people dedicated to designing, building and manufacturing innovative construction equipment, came up against a design challenge while working with a customer to electrify rock crushers that are typically diesel operated. New Eagle rose to the challenge by developing an electric hybrid rock crusher. 

The Challenge

Operational requirements set forth by the California Air Resource Board (CARB) stated that equipment powered by diesel generators, such as the traditional rock crushers, were no longer able to run in certain locations without increased operational costs. With the customer determined to avoid such costs and the environmental toll associated with diesel generators, coupled with high diesel fuel costs, KPI developed a market first solution: an electrified hybrid rock crusher. After the initial concept design, KPI looked towards New Eagle for the following objectives: 

  • Architect and build a cost-effective, hybrid-electric system
  • Package the components in a very limited space
  • Integrate the new system within existing designs

The Solution

New Eagle engineers designed several electric architecture concepts for electrifying the rock crusher, which took on a simple approach that allowed for compatibility and easy integration onto the company’s existing product line. The concepts involved designs for:

  • Mounting the system to the pump drive unit
  • Coupling the system to the pump drive unit
  • An AC/DC electrical system
  • An appropriate thermal management system that identified appropriate thermal management components
  • The necessary high voltage and low voltage harnessing

From these electrical concepts, New Eagle prototyped the design and identified a key optimization by using an integrated rectifier with a dual inverter. The teams then collaborated in order to select the best concept, and worked together to design the necessary system.

Once the design was finalized, New Eagle’s engineering team prototyped the electrified rock crusher using Raptor™ software and built a successful demo. With the prototype built, the team now had a clear visual of the electrical layout needed for the rock crusher’s limited space. New Eagle looked to their distribution network to work with world-class suppliers, Borg Warner and John Deere, and selected the best production hardware in order to optimize the power output and package the system into a clean fit for the rock crusher’s tight space.kolberg pioneer gt440 electric rock crusher

Results and Impact

New Eagle’s engineering team successfully optimized the power output through smart power density and distribution, allowing the electric/hybrid rock crusher to operate as powerfully as any diesel-powered crusher.

KPI’s customer successfully brought its innovative, new electric/hybrid rock crusher to market where it has demonstrated a strong market demand. With its sleek architecture and design, the rock crusher system provided easy modularity that scaled beyond rock crushers into other product lines, allowing for cleaner power machines to reach production faster.

Products Incorporated

Raptor™ Telematics for an Electric Foiling Vessel

raptor telematics electric foiling vessel

One of New Eagle’s consultants, Kossel Controls, recently took on a client who needed a marine application that required rugged, qualified controllers and displays for his electric foiling sea vessel operating in an ever-changing environment. Kossel Controls turned to New Eagle’s Raptor™ Controls Platform to develop the controls for the vessel.

This was an easy problem. The hard part was due to the consultant working remotely from the vessel, which operated offshore. This presented the question: how does the software develop and calibrate on the vessel without many time-consuming and costly trips? 

Solutions from Land to Sea: Electric Foiling Sea Vessel

To solve this, we proposed controllers, displays and New Eagle’s Raptor™ Telematics, a solution that would allow our consultant to remotely monitor the vessel’s control system and make Over-The-Air (OTA) software and calibration changes. Our New Eagle products also kept the customer on track with his aggressive development schedule at a much lower cost.

Raptor Telematics for Electric Foiling Vessel
Taking control of an unstable, electric foiling vessel with the Raptor Telematic control solution.

Faster Control, Better Machine

With the Raptor™ Telematic control solution in place, the customer tests the boat. During testing, the data is logged, downloaded, and analyzed by Kossel Controls, who then adjusts the control system logic/calibration values accordingly. This provides the customer with an Over-the-Air (OTA) update to the software, which allows him to make changes at his convenience with minimal interruption between he and Kossel Controls.

Using the Raptor™ Telematic control solution, the customer can continue to test and validate software changes in a considerably more successful and shorter time frame, all while saving money on expensive site visits from the engineering experts.

 

 

Small Towable Excavator

A customer wanted to build a small, towable excavator that was controlled by joysticks and small enough to be towed easily from location to location. But when it came to building this machine, the customer faced a challenge–the hydraulic controller it had intended to use wasn’t capable of executing the advanced joystick commands needed to safely drive and operate the machine. The customer turned to New Eagle for assistance.

From drawing to driving

New Eagle’s team first analyzed the machine’s existing system components, drawing a system schematic and characterizing the outputs to actuators.  After understanding how the original system operated, New Eagle’s engineers replaced the hydraulic electronic controller with a New Eagle unit that would allow for a wider range of control capabilities–the ECM-112. This controller was paired with a customized wire harness to fit the excavator.  Then, using an a model-based design process, New Eagle’s engineers wrote the control logic needed for the joystick inputs and hydraulic actuators to cleanly integrate into the system. After a successful calibration exercise, the excavator was ready to be put to work by the customer.

Old interface, new controls for the small, towable excavator

With New Eagle’s assistance, the customer was able to meet its goals for the excavator, without sacrificing its user interface. Thanks to some savvy engineering work, New Eagle was able to meet all of the the customer’s requirements, creating a single or dual-joystick operated excavator.

Electronic Park Brake Control System

An automotive Tier 1 brake supplier needed a production capable control system developer to commercialize its Electric Park Brake Control System (EPB) technology.

To do this, the supplier needed a sensorless solution on production hardware that measured applied brake torque using model-based control theory. Since model-based control engineering was not a core practice area of this supplier’s engineering team, it turned to New Eagle for assistance.  

Modeling and Testing

New Eagle’s team of engineers began developing a model of the system’s actuator in Simulink®. Next, they wrote algorithms which tested and simulated different environmental conditions and actuator part manufacturing tolerances.

With these environmental and tolerance parameters in place, New Eagle made it easy for the mechanical supplier to create its own test scripts which simulated anticipated variations. This ensured control algorithms would work across all real-world scenarios.

Speeding Up Time to Development

With New Eagle’s model and parameters, the supplier easily developed and tested  control algorithms needed to run its EPB system successfully. When it came time to move from simulation to hardware, the supplier used Raptor’s autocode generation feature to immediately put its Simulink® algorithms on production hardware, able to skip the time-consuming process of rewriting algorithms in C/C++.

Production EPB System Success

With New Eagle’s control solution, the supplier was able to pursue OEM platform contracts for its production-quality EPB system.

To learn more about how New Eagle can help you efficiently develop a reliable, production-quality control system, contact its team of trusted engineers.

Gasoline-CNG Bi-fuel Vehicle Conversion

bi fuel mustang image

A customer was in the middle of developing four demonstration vehicles (BMW X3, Hyundai Sonata, GMC Acadia Denali, Ford Mustang) powered by a custom natural-gas system.  While the mechanical conversion of the vehicles from petroleum to natural gas was successful, the aftermarket control solutions for delivering the fuel did not meet the customer’s performance goals. With a marketing event on the horizon, the customer needed to resolve this problem, and fast.

Four months, four vehicles

With just four months until the event, New Eagle’s engineers designed, prototyped and tested a custom gas injection system that controlled the injection of compressed natural gas. With better control over the gas injection rate, the customer’s vehicles were able to meet their efficiency goals.

bi fuel mustang image

Demonstrating success

At the end of the project, the customer was able to showcase all four of its working vehicles at its marketing event, demonstrating the flexibility of New Eagle’s custom electronics and software development capabilities while pointing to a future for bi-fuel CNG and gasoline technology.

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Electric Vehicle for an Off Road Endurance Race

A customer wanted to enter a zero-emission electric vehicle into a two-week, off-road endurance race. The race required vehicles to cross up to 500 miles per day on some of South America’s toughest terrain—dunes, mud and rocks. No electric vehicle had ever competed in the race’s history, and the customer wanted to be the first. However, to do this, the customer needed help completing its EV’s control system and calibrating its electric motor.

The Race to Race-Ready

With less than two months until race time, the customer contacted New Eagle’s team for assistance. New Eagle’s engineers knew they had to move fast, so they used New Eagle’s EV Supervisor kit to jumpstart the control system development process. With the pre-programmed electronic control unit (ECU) in the Supervisor kit, New Eagle’s engineers simply worked with the customer’s engineering team to calibrate the ECU’s software to meet the vehicle’s specifications, which sped up the system development process.

Completing the System

New Eagle’s compatible, production-level EV components allowed the customer to select hardware that cleanly integrated with its EV, such as a wiring harness, DC/DC converter and pedals. When the customer needed certain components customized—like its contractor control unit and display—New Eagle’s engineers quickly tailored the hardware to meet the customer’s specifications.

Historic Feats in Record Time

With New Eagle’s EV control system solutions and ASIL-certified engineering expertise, the customer successfully created a race-worthy EV despite a short timeline.  When the EV hit the road (or rather, off it)  in South America, it completed a historic first stage in the race.  

See how New Eagle can help you take control of your machine and development timeline by contacting our team of experts today.

Have You Seen a 3-D Printed Electric Vehicle?

3D on the Outside, EV on the Inside

A customer created a 3D printed tribute to a classic sports car for its 50th-anniversary celebration at an auto show. Wanting to take the tribute a step further, the customer planned on integrating an electric powertrain into the vehicle. In order to do this, though, the customer needed to integrate a controller, EV component cooling system and touchscreen display. When this proved difficult, the customer looked to New Eagle for help.

Meeting Requirements, Beating Deadlines

New Eagle’s engineers worked closely with the customer to understand the vehicle’s performance requirements and timeline goals.  With just three weeks to work on the project, New Eagle’s team successfully designed and integrated a custom EV system into the vehicle.

From Tribute to Triumph

Since New Eagle’s team exclusively uses production components, the customer’s vehicle was ready for more than just the show–it was ready for the road.  The vehicle, which was presented to former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden, now enjoys a celebrity status.

Micro Turbine Heater

A turbine engine manufacturing company needed to update its obsolete and outdated hardware. It soon realized that it would need to rewrite its legacy control software so it could be applied on a new,  reliable, automotive-grade controller. New Eagle was contacted to assist with the process.

Improving Systems, Meeting Specifications

To solve this complex control problem, New Eagle’s team reverse-engineered the manufacturer’s old system into function specifications.  Next, it converted these function specifications into software using embedded model-based development (eMBD) tools. New Eagle’s team then focused on improving the electrical system by redesigning the interface with all new components.

Heating Up Production

When it came time to test the system, New Eagle designed a testing plan that verified that the new system would include all the required functions.

Leveraging its eMBD tools, New Eagle developed a running, tested engine to the manufacturer within two months. This new control system allowed the manufacturer to increase production, decrease build time, and deliver a higher quality product, helping the manufacturer cut costs.

Supplying Hardware and Support

New Eagle then worked with the manufacturer’s engineering team, providing training and support so that the team would have the skills and tools needed to continue developing.  With New Eagle’s hardware supply chain, the manufacturer could also access the reliable components needed to meet its goals and production schedule.

Electric Van Conversion

Going Green to Save Green

New Eagle was contacted to convert an OEM commercial vehicle into an electric one to help a customer to save on fuel costs for its shuttle services. New Eagle helped select an electric powertrain system, develop the vehicle’s controls and wiring harness, and integrate the system.

electric ford transit van new eagle
Ford Transit van, electrified by New Eagle and Lightning Systems.

Creating the Custom System

Using the EV supervisor software to jumpstart the control development process, New Eagle’s engineers succeeded in getting a first-version of the van running within the week. Next, New Eagle customized the software to meet the customer specifications.

Electrifying Fleets

By the end of the project, New Eagle had designed a custom kit of hardware and software that could be used to transform nearly any van of the same make and model from an OEM to an electric one. With New Eagle, the customer was then able to launch a business converting gasoline vans to electric.

image of an electric dodge promoter
Dodge Promaster van, electrified by New Eagle.

 

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