Understanding Future Effects of Today's Decisions

Technology Engineering

Forensic Failure Analysis
When a weapon system fails, it is incumbent upon the program office to implement change in order to preclude recurrence, in order to accomplish this the root and contributing causes must be identified. Although conceptually simple, merely sending the failed hardware to a laboratory is not the solution … labs will identify the failure mode (the capacitor cracked) but will not have the insight needed to determine the relative contributions of 1) the contractual language (or other programmatics), and 2) quality of design or quality of conformance (at the contractor’s factory). As such laboratories will not be able to develop recommendations that are contractually responsive, actionable, and tailored specifically to the needs of the program office. WILLCOR has extensive experience in this field, and can also provide “reachback” to assist in developing solutions based on extensive experience in program support and factory assessments.

Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH)

REACH is a new European Community Regulation on chemicals and their safe use which became effective 1 June 2007 and will be phased in over an eleven year period. The aim of REACH is to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances; manufacturers will be required to gather and register safety information on substances used in manufacturing, and manage risks associated with use of these chemicals. US defense contractors participating in acquisition programs with a Foreign Military Sales component will likely need to comply with these new regulatory requirements in order to successfully support the US program office. With significant expertise in programmatic and factory management, WILLCOR is well positioned to assist program managers in navigating these administrative hurdles.


Use of Plastic Encapsulated Microcircuits (PEMs)

DoD has recently placed emphasis on the use of commercially available Plastic Encapsulated Microcircuits (PEMs) and moved away from “MILSPEC” electronic hardware. This transition is largely due to DoD’s reduced buying power resulting from numerous variables, including: the vast expansion of the commercial electronic market, acquisition reform, and shrinking defense budgets. Some have voiced caution about introducing PEMs into high-reliability applications because of their limited temperature range, unknown performance and reliability data, rapid obsolescence, and product variability. On the other hand, there are many potential benefits from the use of PEMs because of their reduced cost, size, and weight. WILLCOR can help your organization perform trade studies in this area, develop approved parts lists, and perform due diligence at the manufacturers of these components … all with an eye to managing program risk.


Supply Chain

Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Suppliers (DMSMS) – DMSMS is the impending or actual loss of manufacturers or suppliers of raw materials, production parts, or repair parts, is a major threat to the sustainability of weapons systems. DMSMS should be managed proactively in order to ensure that program management has maximum visibility and therefore decision space needed to ensure positive acquisition outcomes. There are a number of tools and management approaches available to ensure a proactive approach to DMSMS, WILLCOR stands ready to work with programs and companies to implement and integrate these tools within supply chain programs to minimize risk and attain success.


Counterfeit Parts - The threat posed by counterfeit parts, both electronic and mechanical, is increasing and presents exceptional challenges to equipment manufacturers when using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products. It also is a problem when attempting to mitigate DMSMS through the purchase of parts from sources other than Original Equipment Manufacturers or their designated distributors (i.e. the “grey market”). In order to prevent the introduction of counterfeit parts into defense products, programs and contractors must apply even greater diligence than was previously necessary in Quality systems. Compounding this problem is recent US government legislation intended to prevent the introduction of malevolent software (i.e. “malware”) into defense systems … which can happen when integrated circuit products are purchased through non-OEM channels. WILLCOR works with programs and companies to develop processes and plans to manage counterfeits and mitigate associated risks.


Tin Whiskers

Tin whiskers are electrically conductive hair-like filaments of tin that unexpectedly protrude from pure tin finishes, and are responsible for sporadic and/or permanent electronic malfunctions. They are responsible for electrical short-circuits resulting in an estimated loss of at least a billion dollars worth of satellites, missiles, and other electronic equipment. Tin whiskers are a detriment to any system demanding longevity and high reliability. The root cause of this phenomenon has yet to be established however the elimination of lead from solder appears to be key in facilitating whisker growth. The spontaneity of tin whiskers makes it difficult to understand exactly how, when, and why they materialize.


Lead Free Solder - Electronics have traditionally been manufactured using tin-lead solder. Elimination of lead by virtue of the European Union’s Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) has highlighted the threat posed by tin whiskers. Although military manufacturers are either not subject to the legislation or are covered by exemptions, their increasing dependence on COTS electronic parts and assemblies makes the defense community particularly vulnerable to the reliability risks associated with lead-free. WILLCOR regularly assists in implementing lead-free mitigation plans compliant with industry standards and best practices.


Tin Whisker Mitigation - The reliability threat posed by tin whiskers has promoted the development, particularly by DoD, of a number of potential means of partially mitigating the risks. These include the use of physical barriers, conformal coatings, underplating, heat treatments, and reprocessing. WILLCOR has extensive knowledge and experience with the various mitigation methods and can help your program in a variety of ways … development of contract language, factory floor assessments, and training of program management personnel.