November19

Model Continuity: From Offline Simulation to Real-Time Testing

Simulations help developers in many ways during the entire development process for a new power electronics application. The development process typically comprises the functional concept, the component selection, the mechanical design, the controller implementation, and, finally, the test and verification under normal and faulty conditions. Figure 1: V-model for the development process of a power…

Dealing with the Big Data Deluge

We are awash in data. We know it, but it’s like the weather — we can’t manage it. We are struggling to get a grip on it, understand it, use it, and exploit it, but it is being generated faster than we can harness it. Data has always been available to us; the difference now…

Data Center UPS Requirements Drive Shift to SiC

The uninterruptible-power–supply (UPS) market is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, driven by data-center infrastructure requirements for high-efficiency, reliable electricity at the lowest possible cost. As the global economy moves toward greater digitization, companies are investing in new data centers to meet the growing demand for cloud-based services. The UPS is a critical…

3D-Printed Rockets May Be the Ticket Home from Mars

A startup wants to send its manufacturing ecosystem to the Red Planet so that astronauts could build their return vessel using raw materials gathered on the Martian surface. Among the most audacious aspirational goals put forth by a new generation of commercial space companies is sending to another planet the means to return to Earth.…

Case Study: How Hoverboard Makers Neglected Safety

The hoverboard safety standard is an example of how nimbly and quickly an independent organization like UL can resolve a safety crisis involving a consumer product. Compared with the catastrophic crashes of two Boeing 737 Max airliners last fall and spring, the consumer hoverboards that caught fire in 2015 seem like small potatoes. Obviously, the…

Airliner OEMs Struggle with Increasing Complexity

Some have asked whether the aerospace industry is trading reliability for time to market. When focusing on the reliability element of this question, we see higher aircraft reliability with more electrification. There has been a long-standing trend to electrify more functions on the airplane (think converting mechanical and pneumatic systems to electrical), and reliability is…

NASA: Hard-Earned Lessons Can Yield Reliability

In the aftermath of the fatal Apollo 1 launchpad fire in January 1967 — among the most egregious examples of sacrificing safety and reliability to schedule — the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration learned the hard lessons of the avoidable tragedy, pulled up its socks, and built some of the most reliable machines ever…

Boeing Crashes Highlight a Worsening Reliability Crisis

A growing body of evidence indicates that electronics, aerospace, and other technology manufacturers under unrelenting competitive pressure are placing time-to-market considerations ahead of reliability — even for mission-critical systems. In the stunning case of the Boeing 737 Max, evidence is mounting that the airplane maker, abetted by regulators, compromised safety in its quest to compete…

Design for Reliability: You Have the Tools

In 2018, I had to replace some failed components on a 25-year-old HP 34401A digital multimeter (DMM). Two capacitors had failed, taking out diodes as well. That was the third time I’d had to replace failed capacitors within a year (the others were in a computer monitor and a DVD recorder). The engineers who designed…