Original Date: 08/20/2001
Revision Date: 12/14/2006
Best Practice : Mechanical, Commercial-off-the-Shelf Design Practices
When using commercial-off-the-shelf equipment, the utilization of vendor data without verification may result in qualification testing failures. By verifying these design parameters via its Mechanical, Commercial-off-the-Shelf Design Practices, Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems-Surface Systems has realized critical design requirements for commercial-off-the-shelf enclosures and avoided costly redesign in dealing with commercial-off-the-shelf, non-conformance issues.
The validation of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) items for military operability has always been an issue of deep concern. In the past, designs at Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems-Surface Systems (NE&SS-SS) relied almost completely on analysis with minimal testing performed prior to environmental qualification. Since analysis assumptions and results could not be fully verified until qualification testing, this approach led to two issues: (1) Problems found in qualification are more expensive to fix than those found earlier in the design process, and (2) Testing late can lead to high costs, particularly in COTS parts where design margins are less than those of MIL-SPEC parts. Additionally when outside testing was employed, the test house collected, organized, and presented the test data back to the company. By relying on vendor presentations, Lockheed Martin NE&SS-SS often encountered a productivity issue since the data would not be organized as preferred. The solution was the development of the Mechanical COTS Design Practices.
The Mechanical COTS Design Practices enabled Lockheed Martin NE&SS-SS to move its design process toward risk reduction testing when designing packaging for COTS equipment. This approach includes the design, analysis, and testing of hardware prior to environmental qualification. These Design Practices also enabled the company to use its own data collection methods and equipment at test houses. This way, the company no longer needs to rely on the vendor’s data collection, analysis, and presentation techniques/practices.
Since being implemented, the Mechanical COTS Design Practices enable Lockheed Martin NE&SS-SS to reduce program costs and develop more robust designs. The combined benefits of analysis and risk reduction testing saved a recent program approximately $120,000 in enclosure material costs alone. By validating its COTS designs early in the process, Lockheed Martin NE&SS-SS has been able to design enclosures to deal with compliance issues early in the design process, and has not been required to change enclosure designs which has and could result in unusable enclosure material purchases.
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