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Designing rugged camera into E/O systems

System designers in every industry must strive to increase performance and reduce costs within a short development time. This is especially challenging in the defense and security markets that have special requirements for both the products and the supply chain. Commercially available products are an attractive option, do they really save money and help differentiate your system? Here are some things to consider when selecting a camera and vendor for an electro-optical system. By Adimec

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Designing rugged camera into E/O systems

  1. 1. DESIGNING CAMERAS INTO RUGGED ELECTRO-OPTICAL SYSTEMS
  2. 2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY System designers in every industry must strive to increase performance and reduce costs within a short development time. This is especially challenging in the defense and security markets that have special requirements for both the products and the supply chain. Commercially available products are an attractive option, but do they really save money and help differentiate your system? Here are some things to consider when selecting a camera and vendor for an electro-optical system. -2-
  3. 3. CAMERAS THAT ARE OPTIMIZED TO THE APPLICATION CAN OFFER PERFORMANCE ADVANTAGES AND REDUCE COSTS. The military and defense industries are big users of advanced camera technology. Sophisticated electrooptical systems are essential for the safety of personnel, as well as the effectiveness of weapons 3 options to meet your camera needs and overall military strategy on land, sea, and air. Commercial Off-the-Shelf (or Commercially Available System redesigns, workarounds, and software Off-the-Shelf), or COTS solutions, are generating a adjustments for inadequate quality and functionality lot of buzz for defense imaging systems. are often inefficient and costly in the end. Many defense contractors would prefer to use COTS Building it yourself may initially sound appealing products to have a shorter time to market, use of since you will have total control over the product; the latest technologies, and presumably lower costs. however, when leading edge technology is required, The problem is that these products must also meet working with a camera specialist can save huge detailed specifications and exacting standards, be amounts of time by eliminating the learning curve. qualified for extended performance, and have a long life cycle – none of which are typical in the commercial Utilizing an optimized camera from the start allows for more focus on your core technologies by marketplace. eliminating the need for your own additional design So when a COTS solution will not meet all of your work. When you deal with lengthy product life cycles needs, you have 3 options: build it yourself, build a in your industry, custom cameras also provide better workaround in the imaging system, or pay a supplier continuity and obsolescence management. to customize their camera to your specifications. An immediate reaction to the term customization is that it will cost more than an off-the-shelf solution. But a careful analysis of the total cost (Cost of Ownership) shows the opposite to be true. -3-
  4. 4. CUSTOM SOLUTIONS Developers need to deliver systems that are faster, offer Furthermore, a customized solution allows you to more capabilities, and meet unique implementation differentiate your system and market proposition. requirements. That’s a daunting task, particularly if your In many cases, these customized products can still be main business isn’t cameras. considered commercial items – e.g., when modified in the In many ways, the core components of how high-end same ways as available in the commercial marketplace or if imaging systems are put together are similar from system only minor modifications are made. to system and company to company – cameras, sensors, interfaces, connectivity, power supplies, etc. are generally If you decide to seek a customized solution from a 3rd party, the same. The challenge is to take those core building what are your options? How can an electronic component blocks and develop a system that does something unique be “tailored”? to better serve your customer’s needs than the competition. OPTIONS FOR CUSTOMIZATION Customization is a broad term that can range from a minor tweak of a standard product to a ground up design of a camera for a specialized system. For example, you may require a camera with features such as automatic integration time, higher resolution, and color processing. Or, you may need an entirely custom form factor to fit in a very specific operating environment. 1. Tailored camera Addition of functionality to an existing product 2. Customized solution Combining previously developed modules from a platform 3. Fully customized solution Building a new camera from scratch Oftentimes a camera vendor may have a good starting product, which simply lacks certain functionality, such as automatic exposure control, video enhancement, or color processing. In this case, a tailored camera can be created quickly, with high quality, and minimal costs, by an experienced manufacturer. This is best done using a platform approach where you can create the camera you need by selecting a combination of developed and tested building blocks. For example, there could be an option of sensors, functionality packages, and interfaces that can be combined and packaged as needed (or left as a board level). The end result can be short time to market, low costs, and low risks. All of the camera components – sensor, functionality, interface, outline – are specified exactly by the customer. This could be required for extreme environmental conditions, where an exceptionally rugged design and specific extended testing is required. It may also be beneficial when a less common component is determined to be necessary. While this would be a more expensive option, you will still save money by having it built by camera experts. -4-
  5. 5. CHOICE OF CAMERA MANUFACTURER When deciding which camera If you are a defense contractor and manufacturer to use for a fully ruggedization and MIL-SPEC qualification customized, customized or tailored is a critical modification, consider also solution the following when selecting a vendor: » Do they have experience with your specific additional requirements, such as extended shock and vibration testing? » How close is a starting product or platform to what you require in the end? » Are they committed to the defense industry? » Is their supply chain and product design optimized to support long term programs? » Is the additional functionality you require » Do they have product life cycle in a module that has already been management procedures, like change & developed and tested? control management? » Are they committed to developing and maintaining customized products? » Do they have thorough procedures » Do they follow strict production and quality procedures? » Can they ruggedize (with certification) to ensure the quality of a modified existing COTS products and guarantee product? long-term delivery? » Do they have volume production » Do they already have products that capabilities for several modified have been used in extreme conditions, products? including the battlefield? » Do they have sufficient life cycle management of component obsolescence to eliminate costly changes? THE BOTTOM LINE: WHEN YOU WORK WITH AN EXPERIENCED VENDOR, CUSTOMIZATION REDUCES COSTS. -5-
  6. 6. ADIMEC Adimec specializes in the development and manufacturing of high-performance cameras that meet the application-specific requirements of key market segments, including machine vision, medical imaging, and outdoor imaging. Founded in 1992, the company partners with major OEMs around the world to facilitate the creation of industry-leading cameras. The unique Adimec True Accurate Imaging® technology provides new levels of precision and accuracy to vision systems. Its diverse line of camera products meet a wide range of performance, size, cost, interface and application requirements. Adimec has offices around the world focused on creating customer value and satisfaction through local, personalized support. Need more inspiration? Contact us www.adimec.com -6-

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System designers in every industry must strive to increase performance and reduce costs within a short development time. This is especially challenging in the defense and security markets that have special requirements for both the products and the supply chain. Commercially available products are an attractive option, do they really save money and help differentiate your system? Here are some things to consider when selecting a camera and vendor for an electro-optical system. By Adimec

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