By Alicia Cunningham | Feb 14, 2017
Intermittent Fault Detection Testers
Industry: Electronics & Aerospace
Products: Intermittent Fault Detection Testers
As costs remain low, electronics have become disposable. Laptops are kept for three years; cell phones generally last the same. As much as we need them, the products themselves are ultimately disposable.
But larger electronics – those found in aircraft, satellites, warships – users would like those to last longer. In fact, the average age of aircraft owned by the Department of Defense (DoD) is 25 years old. That’s where Universal Synaptics finds its niche.
“There is a major problem that plagues modern electronics,” says Ken Anderson, Vice President of Sales & Business Development with Universal Synaptics. “As these devices age and wear, they degrade and behave intermittently long before they fail permanently. If they fail in operation, they are tested for repair only for the test to come back No Fault Found (NFF). We discovered that the DoD’s equipment was not designed to detect intermittent circuit activity that drives No Fault Found test results. For them, it is a $2 to $10 billion problem.”
Universal Synaptics founder, Brent Sorensen, developed and patented an advanced technology solution called the Intermittent Fault Detector (IFD) that has the ability to test all of the electronic conductive paths simultaneously and continuously, eliminating these ‘No Fault Found’ test results and providing a path for maintainers to get to a quick and comprehensive outcome during test time.
“By testing each circuit simultaneously, the seemingly random nature of no fault found test results disappears. The technology is able to detect and isolate the precise location of where the intermittent event occurs on any and all circuits down to 50 nanoseconds, that’s one twentieth of a millionth of a second.” Sorensen says.
Located near Hill Air Force Base, Universal Synaptics generally serves the government sector. “It is our largest customer base,” Anderson confirms. “The government values this test technology because its airborne weapons systems, fleet of ships and satellites have to work properly so the war fighter can complete the mission. The government is willing to make minimal investments in advanced technology to ensure operational availability and enable cost effective readiness.”
But the company is expanding to be a bigger resource to the private sector as well.
“Our testers have been utilized by Samsung, Mercedes Benz and General Motors. If there are random electronic intermittent issues causing a problem, we have the solution,” Anderson says.
Universal Synaptics manufacturers the testers for each industry they serve, customizing its testers based on capability requirements. “Government operators prefer to perform the testing and maintenance organically. They don’t want a lot of people around their equipment,” Anderson laughs. “We’re happy to provide the testers – provide the technology – and then provide support after the fact if needed.”
Manufacturing is primarily done in Roy, Utah, though the company does outsource some electronic components. “But everything is constructed here, tested here, delivered from here,” Anderson says.
Keeping everything in-house allows Universal Synaptics to adjust their products quickly. “We never stop innovating,” Anderson says. “We received our first patent in 1998. The core capability has remained, basically, the same. But when we see the industry advance, we advance with it and in most instances are leading the advancements. We expand our own capabilities and enhance our diagnostic solutions. Recently we released a new software operating system. Our previous operating system was fine. It still worked. But we knew it could be better, more user-friendly, more advanced. In my view, that demonstrates our commitment to innovation. There are some really bright minds here that come up with wild, fantastic ideas on how to solve the most complex diagnostic challenges in modern electronic component repair.”
Challenges: Education. Anderson says ten years ago, the engineering community accepted a test result of NFF as a fact of life. “They did not believe that there was a solution for this. It’s human nature to resist accepting something new or rationalizing its place. We can treat the condition by isolating it to the root cause, surgically repair the circuit and provide greater reliability of the system.”
Opportunities: International Markets. Universal Synaptics is creating international standards and customizations for NATO allies. “We’re also experiencing a big expansion in the commercial market. There isn’t a day that I don’t open my email and find a new opportunity for us to pursue,” Anderson says.
Need: Time. “There’s so much opportunity for us, it’s a very exciting time” Anderson says, “we just do not have enough time in the day. Our entire team just needs a few more hours in each day!”