Author Archives: Teresa Hardy

Newest Publication on Prognostics and Health Management

Prognostics And Health Management
A Practical Approach to Improving System Reliability Using Condition-Based Data

By:
Douglas Goodman
James P. Hofmeister
Dr. Ferenc Szidarovszky

Available on Amazon June 4th, 2019
Pre-order now

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tucson AZ. – May 14, 2019 – Ridgetop Group, Inc. of Tucson, AZ today announced that some of its key Researchers have written a book entitled “Prognostics and Health Management, A Practical Approach to Improving System Reliability Using Condition-Based Data”. The authors include Doug Goodman, Chief Engineer and Company Founder, James Hofmeister, Distinguished Engineer, and Ferenc Szidarovszky, PhD, a renowned authority in Algorithm design.

Published by John Wiley and Sons, Ltd, and available on Amazon.com, the book provides a solid reference text to technical personnel who are interested in or responsible for system maintenance and are being asked to implement the latest methods of predictive maintenance. The book outlines methods for adopting prognostics to support predictive maintenance and advanced warning of impending failures, through implementation of Prognostics/Health Management (PHM), and/or Integrated Vehicle Health Management (IVHM). This area is becoming increasingly important in all sectors of mechanical systems maintenance and wear analysis. The Author’s believe, more importantly, that systems like those described in the book will become more necessary and even considered standard equipment on new autonomous systems such as: drones, driverless vehicles, and other autonomous transports systems that are becoming more and more ubiquitous in today’s society.
Dr. Andre Kleyner, Reliability Series Senior Editor, Wiley writes “This book has been written by the leading experts and state-of-the-art practioners in the field of health management/monitoring. It discusses the many technical aspects of PHM along with its cost benefits …”
Tom Heiser, President and CEO stated, “Ridgetop continues to expand its operations as our customers adopt advanced PHM and IVHM systems. We are pleased to work with Wiley and Dr. Andre Kleiner, Series Editor, to introduce this ground-breaking and practical book. Our customers include engineers in all areas of transportation, aerospace, energy generation, and industrial automation. Those same engineers are now being called on to use the latest techniques in remote monitoring and autonomous reporting of impending failures to insure the safe operation of highly complex systems. It is with great pride that we announce this publication designed to help our customers implement these systems. “
Ridgetop Group is a privately held AS9100D-certified company, specializing in the development of advanced diagnostic methodologies and products, CBM+, and Prognostic Health Management (PHM), ensuring precise identification and isolation of system anomalies, advance notice of impending systems failure at the integrated device level, and both hardware and software for mission critical systems for avionics, rolling stock, and energy applications.

Ridgetop Group and Autotest Co. Sign Agreement to Combine Product and Sales Strengths for ATE Market

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

San Antonio, TX and Tucson AZ. – May 6, 2019 – Autotest Company Geo W. Cox and Sons, Inc. of San Antonio, TX and Ridgetop Group, Inc. of Tucson, AZ today announced the signing of a re-seller agreement whereby Ridgetop Group would take over the global sales and marketing of Autotest Co. products.

This new agreement combines the Ridgetop Group’s technical problem solving capabilities and existing technical sales channels throughout the US, Europe, and Asia with the engineering, manuacturing expertise and 42 year history of proven power supply test products and services of Autotest Co.

Robert Cox, President of Autotest stated: “Autotest Co. and Ridgetop Group have been exploring ways to take advantage of each other’s strengths for several years. Today, I am proud to announce that we have reached a definitive agreement in which Ridgetop Group will take over all of the sales and marketing functions from Autotest.”

Tom Heiser, President and CEO of Ridgetop Group added: “After some initial discussions, Bob and I realized we could really help each other meet the characterization and production test needs in this highly specialized industry. We continue to explore ways to deepen our partnership and hope we can make more announcements like this in the near future.”

See the full press release>>

Autotestcon 2018 Presentation

This year at Autotestcon 2018, Doug Goodman will be presenting Alternative Multivariate Methods for State Estimation, Anomaly Detection, and Prognostics.

This presentation is part of the PCB Diagnostics and Repair session on Wednesday September 19th, at 10am, and will delve into the Multivariate Analysis at the core of the Ridgetop Group Advanced Diagnostics and Prognostics products.

This advancement in the algorithm for data analysis can improve your testing capability by broadening the scope of relevant inputs to narrow down the cause of failures. This presentation represents the next steps in our foundational analytics tools and products. These advancements will allow you to improve the accuracy of you equipment by allowing you to use multiple data points for example: combining current and temperature measurement analysis to create a more refined picture of what actually caused a failure or anamaly. This new family of multivariate algorithms is now part of Ridgetop’s Advanced Data Analytics Reasoner tool set. Yes, we see it as a form of RADAR that helps find failures. Stop by and talk to Doug Goodman and Tom Heiser about licensing this algorithm to improve your test flow.

Ridgetop Group specializes in combining sensors, test and measurement techniques with proprietary data analytics in systems for semiconductor test and qualification, and Hi-Rel applications estimating remaining useful life in avionics and transportation. The research scientists at RGI continue to advance this predictive modeling technique that is commonly referred to as Prognostics.

ProChek : The Best Way To Obtain Reliability and Precision Current Measurements

The ProChek Characterization System

Rapid precision current measurements in IC production test and understanding better test methodologies can help reduce reliability risks and ensure reliably working circuits.
Using a number of practical cases as a baseline, this webinar illustrates the benefits of fast and highly repeatable precision current measurements and presents measurement tools and solutions that support attaining those benefits.
May 23, 2018 10am-11am (UTC-7)
Sign up here

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Come listen to Dr. Hans Manhaeve explain how fast and highly repeatable precise current measurements can be provided at low cost by Ridgetop’s ProChek family for production test, characterization, qualification and failure analysis.

Learning Objectives
    Understand measurement performance parameters and how to properly assess instrument specifications.
  • Learn how precise current measurements and related test methodologies can help weed out reliability risks and ensure reliably working circuits.
  • Learn about Q-Star Test™ modules that are deployed around the world across a wide variety of rapid precision current measurements in IC production test, characterization, qualification, and failure analysis applications.

From Prognostics to Machine Learning

Ridgetop Group specializes in combining sensors, test and measurement techniques with proprietary data analytics in systems for semiconductor test and qualification, and Hi-Rel applications estimating remaining useful life in avionics. This predictive modeling technique has become an industry standard known as Prognostics as well as our main focus at RGI for nearly two decades.

At ITC 2017 Ridgetop Group will be demonstrating the Prochek family of parametric testers, a compact, flexible test platform for both conventional and rad-hard characterization, manufacturing test, incoming inspection test, or Spice model generation. Measuring real-time thresholds then analyzing with the proprietary algorithms of ProChek is the data analytics part of prognostics as well as a first step in machine learning. Our products use deterministic based models, and then use reasoners to predict semiconductor failure.

ProChek Plus family unitProChek Plus™ is a flexible and dedicated semiconductor qualification and reliability characterization system that is an effective tool for both conventional and rad-hard characterization. This innovative low-cost parametric test system can rapidly characterize intrinsic process reliability and monitor process quality. Applications include failure and stress testing analysis, manufacturing test for popular I/F silicon equipment and temperature analysis using a test coupon.

  • High Resolution DC Parametric Measurements ( 1 pA or 1uV)
  • Up to 50X throughput test speed vs what is presently available
  • Handles Low Voltage and Low Currents for next generation nodes
  • Temperature Sense Measurements
  • Sweep Measurement Mode
  • Pulse, Frequency and Measurement Capability Plug in Modules Available
  • Popular High Speed Serial I/F for Control and Deterministic Data Reduction for Analytics and Prognostics
  • USB Data Backup
  • Standard output data formats
  • Up to 48 programmable SMUs
  • Lowest Cost Portable Lab Instrument
  • FVMI and FVFCMI Operation

Read more about the Procheck family of products. Or stop by our booth to see the Procheck tester in action and hear more about what Ridgetop Group products can do for your test and characterization process, such as:

SJ BISTTM for Interconnect Fault Detection:

SJBIST_InterconnectSJ BIST is an effective tool to detect faulty solder joints in 2.5D IC packages, die-crack detection and cabling.  Proven over years of applications in harsh environments, SJ BIST offers a unique method of providing fault isolation.

SJ BIST can be used to enhance test equipment and test procedures serving initial board, cable and system qualifications but also servers to monitor systems and cables throughout their usage time. SJ BIST enables early detection and identification of a device or assembly likely to experience a malfunction. To do so, the prognostic needs have to be programmed/designed-in into the host subject to life-time monitoring and uses dedicated interconnects/paths that are continuously monitored and serve as canaries. Serving this purpose, the SJ BIST function is made available as a synthesizable core expressed in Hardware Definition Languages (HDLs) such as Verilog or VHDL, serving a quick and easy implementation inside any programmable or hard-coded IC.

NightHawk: No Fault Found Software ToolkitTM:

NightHawk_blockUsing a set of advanced anomaly detection algorithms, NightHawk provides an interactive test development system that will reduce, or eliminate, no fault founds (NFFs) on critical systems. This new application provides enhancements to test program set (TPS) code to detect soft faults on ‘Bad Actor’ Circuit Card Assemblies (CCAs) and other test articles, which remain difficult to isolate using conventional TPS methods.

NightHawk offers the ability to minimize maintenance time by quickly identifying the root cause of difficult-to-find faults in CAAs and modules. This capability does not exist with conventional suppliers, making Ridgetop’s approach at leveraging its background in advanced anomaly detection algorithms to be the leading choice in next generation NFF isolation and diagnosis. Take the opportunity at ITC 2017 to learn about the NightHawk capabilities and how our advanced algorithmic methodologies can reduce lifetime costs that traditional TPS are unable. In addition, visit our website and learn more about NightHawk.

CPT1000TM:

This handheld short and disconnect identifier is a fast, reliable, high performance cable and power system tester. As the integrity of power transmission through main terminals, cables and power supplies is crucial in power systems, this tool effectively tests and isolates faults in power supplies and cabling. Originally developed for use in unique aircraft applications, the portable handheld CPT1000 device provides signal monitoring, cable testing, and stimulus-and-response testing. The CPT1000 has two 37-pin cable ports for testing different types of power supplies and cables, and uses a rechargeable battery for portability. Witness the versatility of the CPT1000 at booth 219 where our VP of Worldwide Operations, Craig Wentzel, and Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Hans Manhaeve, will be demonstrating CPT1000. And if you are unable to visit us in person, make sure to come to our product page, where you can learn more about CPT1000 as well all of our other advanced diagnostic and prognostic solutions.

CPT1000_Unit

Ridgetop Group’s team of senior researchers have a rich technical range of experience from theoretical approaches in numerical methods, linear and non-linear system dynamics, multi-objective analysis to applied techniques in IDDQ/IDDT monitors and quiescent and transient supply current measurement, such as:

Q-Star TestTM:

Q-Star_picRidgetop Europe’s Q-Star Test static/quiescent current measurement instruments (also referred to as Iddq or Issq modules) serve a wide range of current measurement applications such as: Standard and advanced Iddq and/or Issq tests; standby current measurements; power-down current measurements; bias current measurements; average current measurements; analog DC and low frequency current measurements. In addition, Ridgetop Europe’s Q-Star Test dynamic current measurement instruments (also referred to as Iddt modules) serve a wide range of active current measurement applications, including: Dynamic and transient (Iddt) current tests; power profiling of circuits and systems; active current consumption; and e-fuse programming validation.

Ridgetop Group offers a range of tools for semiconductor test and characterization in addition to the ProCheck family of parametric testers, including Q-Star Test™ Current Measurement, Sentinel Silicon Prognostic Cells, the InstaCell IP Library of Analog/Mixed Signal design blocks and the SJ BIST™ Interconnect Monitors. This is what we call the “Five-level Model Progression of Prognostic Solutions” from die level to system level. We provide consulting services, training services and product solutions for semiconductor, transportation, energy and aerospace applications.

Ridgetop Group is the leader of advanced prognostic and diagnostic sensoring capabilities and continues to find the top by and see us at booth 219.

Nighthawk No Fault Found Banner

The Industry’s Best Solution For No Fault Found

NightHawk™ was developed to solve the problem of “No Fault Found” (NFF) instances in electronic subsystems in aircraft.  NFFs occur when a performance problem exists, but conventional testing does not find or indicate a problem.  Initially developed, tested and validated on the Air Force VDATS system,  NightHawk™ was subsequently implemented into various Automated Test Equipment (ATE) clusters.  NightHawk functionality can be ported to the Navy’s eCASS platform to provide additional tools to improve test coverage of key electronic subsystems in Naval Aircraft to provide modern test and logging data analytic tools to handle aging aircraft problems and prolong the sustainability of the fleet.

NightHawk can significantly reduce the Mean-Time-to-Repair (MTTR) – up to 60% – by pinpointing the specific electronic circuit boards that are defective, but still pass the legacy TPS tests.  NightHawk can benefit both the military (NAVAIR, Air Force, Army Aviation) as well as commercial aircraft fleet operators such as FedEx World Services and other commercial airlines.

NightHawk Enhancements to Conventional Automated Test Equipment Shortcomings
Test program sets (TPSs) currently used to test and debug electronic problems on aircraft are largely developed by OEMs that support acceptance requirements of their subsystems decades earlier.  With operation of the aircraft over decades in harsh environments, encompassing shock, vibration, lightning strikes and temperature extremes, the components in the subsystems can drift from their original values.  These variations can cause “soft faults” that go undetected by the original TPS, so NightHawk was developed to root-out these difficult-to-detect performance anomalies using advanced anomaly detection.

These analysis capabilities rely on time and frequency-domain test software for thorough analysis of aging avionics and weapon systems that have been subjected to harsh environments, failures caused by parameter drift, and component degradation, all of which can result in elusive, intermittent ‘soft faults’ that negatively impact the mission objective and increase lifecycle maintenance costs.
Nighthawk Flowchart

autotestcon2017

See us at AutoTestCon 2017

Come visit Ridgetop Group at the 2017 AutoTestCon being held at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel in Schaumburg, Illinois from September 11-14, 2017.

This year, our esteemed Senior Researcher, Dr. Ferenc Szidarovszky, will be presenting his paper “A New Method to Estimate Expected Number of Failures for Allocating Spare Parts and Labor”. Dr. Szidarovszky will explain how, in determining the optimal allocation of spare parts and labor in a machine shop, that in addition to planned inspections, the random failures must be considered as well. He will discuss the mathematical model in which partial repairs are considered, when at each repair the effective age decreases by a given percentage, and take into account the time it takes to perform repairs.

Senior Vice President of Worldwide Business Operations, Craig Wentzel, will be discussing the benefits of CPT-1000 and NightHawk. He is a 30-year veteran of both the Electronic Design Automation (EDA) and the electronics Test and Measurement (T&M) industries, along with holding additional financial interests in an aortic valve start-up as well as a LTE systems provider. He also maintains continued experience in the fields of cyber security, supply chain integrity software, and other angel activities pertaining to the internet.
One of the company’s leading system engineers, Wyatt Pena, will also be available to demonstrate the CPT-1000 unit and NightHawk.

Dr. Ferenc Szidarovszky has been a senior researcher with the Ridgetop Group Inc. since 2015, working on theoretical issues concerning reliability, robustness, optimal maintenance and replacement policies and prognostics in complex systems. He has earned two PhD degrees, one in Applied Mathematics and another in Economics in Hungary. The Hungarian
Academy of Sciences has awarded him with two higher degrees, Candidate in Mathematics and Doctor of Engineering Sciences. In 1987 he moved to the US and from 1988 he was a professor of the Systems and Industrial Engineering Department of the University of Arizona. He is the author of 22 books and over 375 articles in international journals in addition to numerous conference presentations and short courses taught in many countries.

Solution For Fault Isolation That Improves Mean-Time-to-Repair

CPT1000 Cable Power Test System

CPT1000 Cable Power Test System

Ridgetop Group’s CPT1000 is a new, hand-held, fault isolation tool that reduces Mean-Time-to-Repair (MTTR) by 20% from pinpointing the specific electronic modules in an interconnected cluster that prove to be defective. Rapid maintenance and repair of electronic modules in the F/A-18 are crucial to mission success and current test methods do not support testing at the O-Level. Initially created at NAVAIR Lakehurst by Russell Shannon, PhD, this tool concept and prototype IP was licensed to Ridgetop Group, Inc. for further development and feature augmentation, including intermittency detection and cable FDR (Frequency Domain Reflectometry).

Enhanced Readiness Improvement for Aged Systems

The CPT1000 unit is an innovative, rapidly deployable maintenance tool that provides failure detection and isolation solutions that reduce repair and life cycle costs of fleet Aircraft. Aged electronic subsystems, some still being used past program service life, face degradation due to harsh environmental impacts such as lightning strikes, extreme temperatures and other adverse conditions that have degraded modules to become “off nominal”. Unfortunately, current conventional test stands are unable to pinpoint the specific Weapons Replaceable Assemblies (WRA).  The avionics bay of an aircraft will have an array of modules that must work together to be in operational condition.  Sometimes the source of the fault can only isolated to several circuit boards in the bay.  However with the CPT1000, higher resolution fault location is available. The CPT1000 is anticipated to reduce Mean-time-to-Repair (MTTR) of electronic sub-systems in the F/A-18 by 20%, saving costs, improving reliability and supporting operational readiness and “speed to the fleet”.
The CPT1000 provides readiness for faster delivery to achieve mission success. The proven history behind our hand-held service tool is evidenced through its concept inception at NAVAIR – Lakehurst, where it was designed and tested to isolate faults in F/A-18 electronic subsystem modules.

CPT-1000: Features, Benefits and Comments

Feature Benefit Comments
Power Fault Isolation Augments existing test methods to overcome fault ambiguity and provide specific location of faults. Uses power test analysis protocols.
Intermittency Detection Often service personnel are plagued by intermittencies at the board or module level caused by interconnection connector problems or cracked solder joints. Ridgetop will embody its patented SJ BIST technology into the CPT1000.
Identification of  Cable Faults Using advanced Frequency Domain Reflectometry (FDR) methods,  the CPT1000 can find faults within shielded cables, using a single-node Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) to use reflection as a means of detecting impedance mismatches caused by crimping, crushing an breaks in wires. First developed by Tektronix, Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) has been proven over the years as a reliable tool for locating crimped or broken conductors within cables, but is deficient compared to FDR, which is less complicated to understand operationally and less expensive for long term sustainment activities..
Low Power and long life Disposable light weight battery provides ample power for the instrument. Low power allows instrument to perform its functions, and self-powers down if not being used.
Hand-held configuration Allows instrument to be used on the flight line or anywhere in the hangar. Weight is approximately 1.5 pounds.

Height— 1.5 Inches (3.81cm)

Length— 7.5 Inches (19.05cm)

Width—   6 Inches (15.24cm)

 

Publication of Essays Honoring Ridgetop Researcher, Dr. Szidarovszky

Optimization and Dynamics with Their ApplicationsAccording to Doug Goodman, CEO of Ridgetop, “We are very fortunate to have such a World-Renowned Researcher and key contributor having the background and depth of knowledge in our field of advanced diagnostics and prognostics.  His technical leadership has helped Ridgetop expand its integrated vehicle health management (IVHM) tools to new government and commercial markets.”  Szidar was instrumental in developing special algorithms to support detection of “No Fault Found”, or NFF conditions on critical aircraft systems.

Dr Szidarovszky is presently working in the determination of “effective age” of electronic modules that may include a combination of new, old or aged components.  Effective age plays a major role in the determination of State-of-Health (SoH) and Remaining Useful Life (RUL) that can support Condition Based Maintenance (CBM+) programs on complex systems such as aircraft, autos and industrial equipment.  His paper, “A New Method to Estimate Expected Number of Failures for Allocating Spare Parts and Labor”, will be presented at IEEE Autotestcon September 14, 2017 in Schaumburg, Illinois.

Dr Ferenc SzidarovskyAt Ridgetop, Dr. Szidarovszky was instrumental in the development of the NightHawk™ algorithm library that is being applied to reducing “No Fault Found” (NFF) instances. NightHawk has been successfully applied on a variety of ATE platforms including the Air Force’s VDATS tester, and custom ATE clusters used for other purposes.

Lately, Szidar has been focusing on developing new advanced algorithms and mathematically rigorous methods of handling subsystem assets with different aging or degradation profiles. This is a common situation found in aircraft, where subsystems are removed and replaced as wear and aging affect their performance.