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Providing Solutions for

Today and Tomorrow

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DO-178 and DO-254

Support for Entire Project Life Cycle

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Systems, Hardware and Software Engineering

Making Your Products Better

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Assisting with Flight Certification

and Airworthiness Services

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Safety Compliance and Certification

By the Reliability Experts

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Independent Validation

and System Testing

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Product Development

Concept to Solution

631-223-7043

50 Engineers Rd, Hauppauge, NY 11788


631-223-7043

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Omnicon has been a trusted outsource partner to startups and Fortune 500 companies alike, across industries such as Aerospace, Rail and Transportation, Military and Defense, Medical Devices, and Commercial Electronics. Whether you are looking to award a multi-year development project, or one-off analyses, our 33 years of experience on both sides of the supplier/buyer relationship has led us to master the nuance of starting new business relationships. The following questions are likely to arise in new subcontract or outsource endeavor.

Should I outsource this project?
Many companies first come across this question when their engineering organization gets a new demand that they can’t meet. Our advice is to have an answer to this question long before that happens. A better, more immediate question to consider is: What is my organization’s outsourcing strategy?

There are many strategies you may choose to employ when subcontracting with an engineering services provider. The most common reasons for outsource are to regain schedule or good standing with a customer, overcome a technical challenge, focus on core competencies, get an independent outside opinion, or simply to supplement your team with immediately available experienced engineering resources that can be productive with minimal training to make up for fluctuations in demand.

These days, most companies are matrixed organizations and we’re all asked to juggle projects and priorities. When a project calls for a dedicated team, it’s often difficult to assemble such a team for the period of performance. An external team won’t be divided by competing schedules and deadlines and can stay laser focused on a specific business need while your core team balances the daily needs of your organization.

How do I choose a Supplier?
Once you’ve decided to enlist external aid on an engineering project, you’ll have to consider candidates and weigh their proposals. Candidates that have verifiable experience and objective measures of success should top your list. Your candidate’s engineering and quality processes should be routinely audited and certified. You should understand their work history, past customers, accomplishments, and research their reputation using references and testimonials.

When you enlist Omnicon’s services, you’re working with a certified AS 9100 and ISO 9001 company. This means we have proven that we deliver consistent levels of quality to our customers with well-defined and processes and procedures ranging from Reliability, Maintainability and Safety (RM&S) Engineering; Hardware, Software and Systems Engineering; Development of Special Test Equipment; and Design, Development, and Manufacturing of Products. We are pleased to share our testimonials from our customers to support our work.

How do I work with a Supplier?
A supplier that wants to become a long-term partner will be interested in learning more than what the job entails. Listen for questions that show that they care about how the project is being executed, how status is being communicated, and for any ways to improve your experience as a customer. A dedicated, proactive supplier will be actively getting to know your product, suggesting alternative approaches, understanding your core design decisions, and exhaustively presenting methods and options to you to get the best possible outcome.

Skilled Engineers with Experience
Omnicon, part of HBM Prenscia Solutions, has years of experience as an industry leader. Our partnership with HBM Prenscia’s nCode Federal, LLC means we will continue to deliver unwavering technical innovation by developing cost effective software, hardware, and test solutions, while working with you to develop solutions for today and tomorrow. To discuss the opportunity to assist you in your next project, simply complete the form on our website or contact us here.

January 18, 2018

Posted In: In The News

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Omnicon is pleased to recognize our own Karen J. Frank as one of the honorees of the recent LIBN Top 50 Women in Business class of 2017. Launched in 2000, the program recognizes Long Island’s top women professionals for business acumen, mentoring and community involvement. The women represent the most influential women in business, government, and non-profits and are selected by a judging committee. The honorees were presented with a crystal award at a gala dinner, attended by 600 top business leaders, family, and friends at the Crest Hollow County Club Thursday, October 19th.

Karen has more than 30 years in business strategy, technology, and operations across various industries and markets, with more than half of her career at The Omnicon Group. Karen currently serves as Executive Vice President of Omnicon, where she provides strategic direction, overall leadership, and management for all programs and business development efforts. Her innovative and cutting-edge ideas over the years have helped customers reach their business goals. Her initiative in ensuring strong customer relationships is a driving force in Omnicon’s success, and is our customers’ greatest advocate with her unwavering commitment to client satisfaction. Throughout her leadership role changes and many responsibilities, Karen’s door is always open to work with her co-workers with compassion and patience.

As the only female currently on Omnicon’s Leadership Team, she is blazing a path to inspire more women to take on roles in previously male-dominated organizations. Having two adult children of her own, Karen has been especially motivated to work with high school and college students, aiding them in how to showcase and nurture their abilities to present their talents in the most professional way.

Karen is active in several charitable organizations, supporting causes that are close to her heart, among them: The National Marfan Foundation, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and The American Cancer Society. Karen participates in many events sponsored by these organizations and spearheads fundraising activities throughout the year.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College and resides in Manhasset, NY with her husband. Nothing gets in the way of Karen reaching her goals, and as she’s grown in her successes, she’s ensured those around her benefit as well. Whether she is working, teaching, or mentoring, Karen deserves to be recognized for all her hard work and commitment.

Image courtesy of LIBN

October 30, 2017

Posted In: In The News

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Omnicon Group is pleased to recognize our own Karen J. Frank as one of the honorees of the recent Long Island Business News Top 50 Women in Business class of 2017. The honorees were presented with a crystal award at a gala dinner, attended by 600 top business leaders, family, and friends at the Crest Hollow County Club Thursday, October 19th.

Image courtesy of LIBN

October 25, 2017

Posted In: Accolades

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hauppauge, New York, October 17th, 2017 – The Omnicon Group, Inc., an industry leader in reliability engineering consulting and services, has confirmed today that the ownership of Omnicon will transfer to Spectris plc, a global, leading supplier of productivity-enhancing products, software and services. It will be integrated with HBM Prenscia, a growing global leader in providing technology and engineering software products and services for reliability, durability and performance analyses within the Spectris Test and Measurement segment. Located in Hauppauge, New York and established in 1984, Omnicon has become a leading provider of custom engineering consultancy services to support the design of reliable electronic and embedded software systems for high-reliability and safety-critical applications to major “blue chip” customers including aerospace, transportation, defense, telecommunications, medical device and industrial.

Omnicon is a growing business and has further opportunities to accelerate this growth as its knowledge and technology enables companies to improve product reliability, enhance their productivity and improve their return on investment. Omnicon’s success can be attributed to its continued focus on providing innovative, high quality and technologically advanced solutions to its clients through a highly talented workforce.

HBM Prenscia is a well-respected and long-established supplier of reliability and durability software and solutions. This transaction will strengthen HBM Prenscia’s growing business within Spectris’ Test and Measurement segment and will build on the strong brand recognition and reputation of both Omnicon and HBM Prenscia – including the nCode and ReliaSoft brands. The business will benefit from the investment and global network that will come from being part of HBM Prenscia and the Spectris organization. Headquartered and listed in the UK, the parent organization Spectris has annual revenues of over $1.7 billion and employs approximately 9,000 people in more than 30 countries.

We are delighted to also announce that Karen Frank, the current Omnicon VP of Corporate Development and Programs, will lead Omnicon as Executive VP going forward.

“This is a strategic move for Omnicon,” says Karen Frank. “There are many advantages to becoming part of a global group. The leadership team at HBM Prenscia has a strong interest in developing and investing in Omnicon and its highly talented workforce. We will have the opportunity to accelerate Omnicon’s growth and expansion into key international markets.”

About Omnicon:
Omnicon was established in 1984 and is headquartered in Hauppauge, NY. Omnicon has evolved into a strong reliability solutions company that offers custom engineering consultancy services to support the design of reliable electronic and embedded software systems for high-reliability and safety-critical applications for a range of “blue chip” customers including aerospace, transportation, defense, telecommunications, medical device and industrial. Omnicon’s mission is to develop cost effective, robust software, hardware and test solutions while constantly improving their reliability and safety. Partnering with customers, Omnicon deliver technical innovation to customer’s products, and provide customized engineering solutions for their success. Omnicon has approximately 40 permanent, full-time employees. For more information, visit www.omnicongroup.com

About HBM Prenscia:
HBM Prenscia is a global leader in providing technology and engineering software products and services for reliability, durability, and performance. We offer a broad range of engineering solutions that deliver compelling value to our customers for the design and development of reliable, robust systems, and reduce life cycle costs for mechanical and electronic hardware and software (mechatronics). By offering a range of industry leading software (nCode and ReliaSoft) and services (Omnicon), we enable companies to enhance returns on investment and operational success through design and certification, optimized processes, data management and processing, and CAE simulation. For more information, visit www.hbmprenscia.com

Contact: Heather Bennett

October 19, 2017

Posted In: In The News

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The Omnicon Group is honored to to be the recipient of the HIA-LI Small Business award. HIA-LI honors businesses that have distinguished themselves in the Long Island community in the areas of growth, leadership and commitment to the Long Island region.

October 17, 2017

Posted In: Accolades

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The Omnicon Group is honored to announce it is the recipient of the HIA-LI Small Business award. With this award, Omnicon continues to be recognized for its achievement as a global industry leader. Winners were celebrated during a gala luncheon event held at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, NY, on Tuesday, September 19, 2017.

Omnicon’s success comes directly from the success of the companies we serve. We have over a 96% repeat customer base, and customers that have been with us for over 20 years. We strive to provide them with a valuable combination of expertise, commitment, and industry insight with steadfast quality and reliability.

The Omnicon Group has been providing customized engineering solutions to complex challenges since 1984. As we continue to forge partnerships with organizations that are pioneering initiatives in aerospace, defense, and medical industries, we aim to fulfill the needs of new industries introduced to the Long Island region; from solar and wind power, to new railway innovations to make our transportation systems safer and more efficient.

We are honored to be among the group of distinguished companies dedicated to leadership and commitment to Long Island and would like to thank HIA-LI for recognizing The Omnicon Group with this esteemed award.

Photo courtesy HIA-LI.org

September 19, 2017

Posted In: In The News

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By Guest Blogger, Rose Mooney

The history of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), although not very long, has captured the imaginations of many. From large military-type drones to those flown on the weekend for fun, we look to the skies again for defense, new perspectives, and potential new ways to give businesses an edge. The Omnicon Group has worked with unmanned aircraft systems for over two decades and is ready to answer your questions about how to make your systems and aircraft certification ready.

Increased use of UAS, by the United States, began in the military in the early 1980’s. This use was initiated and procured by the military intelligence directorates. The information gathered was important, rather than the means or the aircraft. Price, size, and expeditionary use were the factors for the UAS awards. Therefore, the departments purchasing the UAS were not aviation savvy so airworthiness certification was not a requirement. When the military moved the UAS programs under the aviation directorates airworthiness became a major concern.

Much like manned aviation UAS, a.k.a. drones, come in many shapes, sizes, capabilities, and costs. They range from very small drones weighing ounces to over 15,000 pounds UAS that can fly for over 30 hours. If you walk into Walmart, Toys R Us, or any number of retail stores in person or shop online, you can find a variety of drones starting from prices of $20 on up. These toys, in many cases, have very limited capabilities and often don’t last much past the first couple of days of use. This makes the development of standards and regulations far different than we have seen for manned aircraft. This includes developing airworthiness requirements.

Airworthiness for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has been a topic of discussion since UAS moved into the military aviation directorates and began to fly in the National Airspace System (NAS). For safe operations, airworthiness is a chief consideration when designing, building, and testing UAS. Airworthiness for UAS has to be looked at not only by capabilities but also by mission. This is very different from manned certification which looks at capabilities and equipage. Manned aviation considers best equipped is best served for access.

Since UAS are newer to civil aviation than manned aircraft, airworthiness and standards continue to be developed. In the US, the FAA works with standards organizations such as Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) and ASTM International. RTCA has a committee SC228 that is working on Detect And Avoid (DAA) and Command and Control (C2) data link Minimum Operational Performance Standards (MOPS). These standards are being developed so that UAS can transit Class D, E, and G airspace to operate in Class A airspace and is focused on larger UAS. They have published DO-365 for DAA Phase I MOPS and DO-366 for MOPS for Air-to-Air Radar DAA Systems Phase I. The FAA released the part 107 rule for small UAS, 55 pounds and under, in June 2016 that allows UAS to operate under 400 feet and within visual line of site for civil use. ASTM F38 has published a number of standards for this size aircraft including F2909 – Practice for Maintenance and Continued Airworthiness of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems and F3003 – Specification for Quality Assurance of a Small Unmanned Aircraft System. These bodies continue to work on and release standards as designated by the FAA and staffed with industry experts.

Rose Mooney is an industry expert on UAS. She works with manufacturers, small and large companies, NASA, FAA, RTCA, and ASTM to further UAS access and enable a viable commercial market for UAS nationally and internationally. Rose can be reached at rosemooney@archangelaero.com for further information.

While certifications for unmanned aircraft are still in process, Omnicon’s team of engineers can provide assistance in development of your UAS systems and programs. Whether you’re looking for system development, full life-cycle program management, verification, validation or testing, we are primed to assist you.

September 19, 2017

Posted In: In The News

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There are several points to remember with your FDA Premarket Approval for new medical devices. Devices that are Class III must receive the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval. This Class III approval, called Premarket Approval (PMA), is a license granted to the applicant to market devices that support or sustain human life, are of substantial importance in preventing impairment of human health, or presents a potential, unreasonable risk of illness or injury.

Due to the sensitive nature of these devices, the FDA requires a thorough development package to determine whether the appropriate design assurance, verification, and validation activities have been performed and that any present risk has been adequately assessed. Omnicon helps customers validate and document their software designs for Class III PMA submission. Below are some lessons learned from our extensive experience.

  1. Start the Device Hazard Analysis Early
    Many customers wait until after they have designed their hardware and software to perform a Device Hazard Analysis (DHA). Unfortunately, at that time, it is usually far too late to incorporate safety mitigations into the design. The only inputs required for a DHA are preliminary requirements and usage scenarios and the earlier you perform the DHA the easier it is to allow the DHA results to influence your design.

  2. Plan a Verification and Validation Campaign
    Class III devices come under great scrutiny regarding the thought put into validation. Testing is merely one method of validating a device, and is typically not enough by itself. Plan activities at every level of development of your device, including the unit level, integration level, and system level. Ensure your activities are guided by your requirements and Device Hazard Analysis.

  3. Control Everything
    From the start of your project, place all of your files, documents, and design artifacts under configuration control. This includes your entire development environment and any software or tools used to develop your product. Keep your Design History File up to date periodically, rather than trying to generate one at the end of the project. Use a requirements management tool to ensure every requirement is implemented, validated, and verified, and use defect tracking software to ensure all issues are documented and tracked to completion.

  4. Get an Independent Review
    Have an independent team that is unfamiliar with a product brought in to evaluate or challenge the work, take a look at your design and PMA package at various milestones so that issues and omissions can be uncovered early and prior to FDA submission. Use a checklist to ensure there are no omissions.

  5. Have a Plan for Commercial Off-The-Shelf Software
    Most modern products include some Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) software or Software of Unknown Pedigree (SOUP). Plan the methods up front that will be used to analyze the hazards of using such software, and validate the software usage in your application. Don’t underestimate the work that may go into using COTS software simply because it is already written.

    The Omnicon Group establishes a clear and well-defined strategy to help you evaluate what documentation and additional documents or artifacts you will need to prepare and submit your Premarket Approval Application to the FDA. Find out more by visiting us at FDA-Premarket Services.

    July 25, 2017

    Posted In: Blog Series

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This month we’re furthering our discussion on top tips for your next DO-254 project. If you haven’t read part one, please go back and read part one.

The DO-254 standard is “a means of compliance for the design of complex hardware in airborne systems.” It provides guidance from project conception, planning, design, implementation, testing, and validation. As discussed last month, proper upfront education and planning can significantly ease the process of achieving DO-254 certification and approval.

This month, we continue with our top tips to aid you in completing your next project.

  1. Conduct Mock Stage of Involvement Audits
    Stage of Involvement (SOI) audits should never be entered without some deal of preparation, because even a single team member who misspeaks can bring the entire team’s pedigree into question.

    Having a mock meeting beforehand will take up more time in the short-term, but can prevent many actions and findings during the real SOI audit that would otherwise require even more time from your engineers.

  2. Understand the Tool Assessment and Qualification Process
    If you are planning on using a tool, whether it’s an in-house tool or a COTS tool that is industry standard, plan on doing a tool assessment and perhaps even a tool qualification. These can take up a lot of time and budget, and we find that many project plans omit this activity altogether.

  3. Prepare a Hierarchical Verification Plan

    During the design of electronic hardware, many artifacts are created at each level of abstraction (e.g. requirements, design documents, schematics, HDL, RTL, post-layout or post-synthesis extracted netlists). Verification should be performed at every level, which creates a verification “hierarchy”.

    When verifying artifacts at every level of abstraction, consider verification methods of: review, analysis, simulation, functional and behavioral modeling, and test.

  4. Don’t Underestimate the Work Required for COTS Components and Circuit Card Assemblies

    Especially with the issuance of additional guidance such as EASA CM-SWCEH-001, COTS components are coming under scrutiny. If you have any contractual obligations that require design assurance on COTS components, understand exactly what is needed. The additional work required can range from simply gathering and storing data sheets for simple COTS devices to performing and documenting analysis and black-box testing on complex COTS devices.

  5. If Possible, Always Verify with Independence

    Verification with independence is only required for certain Design Assurance Levels. Nevertheless, we always recommend having an independent verification team.

    The Omnicon Group develops efficient test plans and procedures to streamline testing while assuring that tests correctly and completely verify requirements in the least amount of time. We can select the most appropriate silicon-based logic type, and development environment and toolsets, prepare checklists for entry and exit criteria for design phases and review, and much more. Find out how our engineers can assist with your next DO-254 project. Contact us at info@omnicongroup.com today!

    June 26, 2017

    Posted In: Blog Series

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While testing safety-critical and reliability-critical requirements, it is important to make sure your test team is not part of the development staff, but did you know it’s also important to have an independent test team for your non-critical products as well?

An independent test team helps provide unbiased accuracy and thorough testing of each requirement that might be overlooked by someone involved during the development phase. Sometimes, simply knowing the desired outcome creates a bias towards testing, but outside test teams have an objective point of view that comes from having fresh perspectives. As a bonus, an independent team can focus solely on the test issues and will not be distracted by other duties that need to happen in the course of an employee’s day, or fear reprisal should their finding be different than a co-worker’s initial findings. Independent teams can also work in parallel with the development team, which can lead to finding a problem sooner in the process, rather than later, saving your organization budget and schedule.

When you partner with The Omnicon Group, you get over 30 years of superior engineering experience on your team. We have the knowledge and skills to streamline Verification and Validation of virtually every kind of product.

Omnicon maximizes the use of automated test equipment. We design test case procedures to be independent of other test cases, and to cover as many requirements as practical. We also write test procedures clearly and unambiguously, providing explanations wherever necessary to clarify the approach and goal of each set of procedures.

Of course, Omnicon’s services go beyond Verification and Validation. Our engineers are experienced in requirements analysis at the start of a project to assure that all requirements are consistent, complete, unambiguous and testable.

Omnicon works with your team every step of the way to ensure your product is completed with accuracy and confidence with the goals of cost efficiency and safety. Contact us to find out how we can assist with your project by emailing us at info@omnicongroup.com.

June 5, 2017

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This month, we would like to discuss the top tips for your next DO-254 project. DO-254 from the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) is still a young guidance document, and as such has a number of ambiguities. Early on, the guidance was only being applied to and scrutinized on complex airborne electronic hardware such as Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) and Complex Programmable Logic Devices (CPLDs). This meant that you could have an FPGA with very high design assurance, but an error elsewhere in the hardware project, such as on the circuit card, that could potentially go unnoticed. Because of this, a number of additional guidance documents have been released by the FAA (in the form of CAST Position papers) and EASA (in the form of Certification Memos).

A number of these additional guidance documents specify details on the design assurance required for circuit cards, Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs), System On-Chip (SOC), and Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) components. It’s important to understand which of these apply to your project before you commit to a schedule and budget.

The Omnicon Group has designed, verified, and certified Complex Electronic Hardware in accordance with RTCA/DO-254 up to Design Assurance Level (DAL) A. We have experience on small projects such as a standalone FPGA or ASIC, to complex Printed Circuit Boards, Line Replaceable Units (LRUs), and systems comprised of multiple LRUs.

Below are some of our tips to look out for on your next project.

  1. DO-254 Planning is Not Project Planning
    Normal project planning is centered on resources, estimates, schedules, budgets, milestones, and risk. Planning with respect to DO-254, however, is your chance to detail all of the planned development and verification tasks and activities ahead of time, and get your customer’s buy-in.

    The saying “it’s easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission” certainly does not apply here. In the DO-254 world, you must explicitly state exactly what you plan on doing and highlight any deviations from those plans. if you make it too far into your process and the certification authorities or customer find your activities inadequate, you will have no choice but to implement corrective actions at additional cost.

    Your plans should include not only what you plan on doing, but also what you don’t plan on doing. For example, if you don’t think you need to qualify a tool you will use in development or verification, if you want to take credit for previous development or treat something as COTS, or will use a sub-tier supplier, it should all be stated early and agreed to as soon as possible.

  2. Create a Traceability Schema
    This simple task will make it very easy for your developers when the work gets started and the pressure is put on to deliver to milestones. The traceability schema should show how customer requirements link to hardware requirements, and how hardware requirements link to design elements, test cases, procedures, and results. The schema should specify which hardware lifecycle deliverable data all of this information will be presented in.

  3. Integrate DO-254 Into Your Existing Process
    We have seen development teams that treat DO-254 as a separate and disparate task from development. This occurs when there is a person or team other than the development team that is “responsible” for doing DO-254 tasks. This type of organization usually struggles with DO-254 until the entire development team is trained and has DO-254 in their minds when performing all development activities.

  4. Perform a Functional Failure Path Analysis
    Depending on whether your team has system responsibility or not, a Functional Failure Path Analysis (FFPA) can prove the DAL levels of various components in your system, and may be required for showing quantitative evidence of the failure rate of your major functions and contributors to those failures. Note that this is similar to, but not the same as, a mean between failures (MTBF), or other related reliability number, which are usually concerned with any failure, not necessarily ones that result in failure, to perform your major functions.

We will continue this discussion next month with a few more tips. In the meantime, if you’re looking for assistance with your DO-254 certification, contact us at info@omnicongroup.com today!

June 5, 2017

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Value for your money and a piece of mind; they are important considerations when you’re looking to having a product that is going to bear your name. This is why it is important to know the companies you hire have a ISO 9001 and AS 9100 Certification, a set standard in quality and customer satisfaction.

Why cut corners with an organization that may, or may not, have processes in place to ensure satisfaction? Why take risks with your reputation or leave it in the hands of an organization that hasn’t proven they can meet basic standards?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) aims to create a quality management process in manufacturing from a global perspective. An ISO 9001 certification means an organization has systematic processes in place, is able to reduce the impact should an issue occur, and have the ability to speed up recovery. In the most basic terms, an ISO Certification means there is a good solid foundation for implementing management standards and a process for control, improvement, and efficiency.

The AS 9100 certificate “drills down” on the ISO 9001 requirements and recommendations for the complex nature of aerospace and defense, highlighting the statutory and regulatory requirements decided by the International Aerospace Quality Group.

Both certifications center on a basic level of standards and having processes in place to improving the product requirements and preventative actions. Earning these certificates means a company is dedicated to quality and customer satisfaction. It means putting your product in the hands of a company that values its employee’s safety and its customer’s end product.

These values are the basis of The Omnicon Group’s commitment to exceeding the needs of our customers, and why we have achieved our ISO 9001:2008 and AS 9100 certification for all engineering and product development services.

June 2, 2017

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Our experienced engineers design high-reliability electronic hardware and develop efficient test plans and procedures to streamline testing for our customers. With experience on hundreds of diverse systems, our analyses and assessments are efficient, accurate and thorough.

We continue the conversation we started last month by discussing the various phases of hardware development:

  1. Specify: identify the need the “end item” or hardware in this case must satisfy
  2. Conceive: conceive or conceptualize how to satisfy that need
  3. Design: analyze, describe, and define with sufficient detail to progress towards a physical realization of the item
  4. Realize: manufacture, prototype, or otherwise produce an implementation of the design and demonstrate that the “as designed”, “as built” item is feasible, and operates as intended
  5. Verify and Validate: produce and compile evidence indicating the end item satisfies the need for which it was designed

Did you miss part one? Read it here.

Phase 1 Specify:
The most important phase in the process is that of identifying the needs of the customer and capturing those needs as a well-defined set of “design-to” requirements that define the end item in terms of functionality, performance, size, weight and other properties. It is of utmost importance that we engage the customer in the validation of the specification to ensure that what was interpreted is correct, and that the item being developed will meet the needs of the customer.

Tip: When formulating requirements, additionally consider “rainy day”, abnormal, or unexpected conditions.

Phase 2 Conceive:
In the second phase of development, multiple design concepts or alternatives are conceived and evaluated to determine feasibility in fulfilling the requirements. Consider trade-offs between different technologies, partitions, physical realizations, materials and hardware versus software. Create story boards, mock-ups, flow charts and algorithms to describe and convey what should be done, how it should behave and what it should look like. At the completion of this stage, in addition to internal review, we engage the customer in validating the chosen and refined approach such that no misunderstanding exists.

Tip: If you only consider one option you may be overly constraining the possibilities. This is where the design is truly defined.

Phase 3 Design:
This phase is where the design takes substance. Logic and functionality in programmable devices such as PALs, PLDs, FPGAs and digital ASICs are coded using VHDL or Verilog. Electrical components are calculated, evaluated, chosen, and interconnected resulting in a circuit design captured using a schematic editor. Details of an Interface Control Document (ICD) are finalized describing the interface(s) to a system or sub-system including that of hardware and software. Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are developed to physically arrange and interconnect components and boards. Mechanical components are modeled, assemblies and sub-assemblies are created, and detailed fabrication and assembly drawings and wiring harnesses are generated. Simulations and analysis are performed to evaluate correctness of function, stresses, tolerance stack-up, thermal capabilities and others as necessary to determine satisfaction of performance and intended functionality. Perform an in-depth review of design documentation and analysis results to solicit feedback and comments; do not simply perform a walk-through of the design presenting data.

Tip: Consider and analyze all operational modes and environmental conditions the end item is expected to encounter.

Phase 4 Realize:
This phase actually involves physically constructing the end item from the “build-to” documentation. Construction can consist of the following: bread-boarding using wire-wrapping or point-to-point wiring, PCB fabrication, PCB assembly, loading of software, configuring CPLDs and FPGAs, building harnesses and assembly of PCBs into an enclosure or larger system. Additionally during this phase, various degrees of design verification or engineering testing will occur including but not limited to: bring-alive testing, White Box testing, HW/SW and system level integration testing and debugging, dry-run requirement based testing and confidence testing such as EMIC, HALT, HASS and power transient testing.

Tip: Be meticulous, record all findings, observations, and deviations from intended operation. Identify any shortcomings, errors, or omissions in the “build-to” documentation.

Phase 5 Verify and Validate:
This phase generally includes requirements based testing and produces the evidence to the completeness and correctness of the design and the end item itself. It provides assurance that the end item has been developed according to its requirements and design data, has been correctly produced, and has achieved the objectives of the requirements.

Tip: The extent of design and end item verification will typically be determined by contractual requirements.

Omnicon engineers have cultivated these best practices in hardware development from over 30 years of experience. Our processes are based on stringent guidelines of widely accepted hardware development documents which address the entire life cycle processes for hardware intended for the most critical or vital applications. We also develop automatic test equipment geared towards lab testing, first article testing, production testing and any other testing needs. At Omnicon, we put our customers first, and our goal is to deliver the best possible product.

May 16, 2017

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When developing software, do you have a best practice for software development that helps you write solid code? Safety critical software requires a detailed and rigorous process, which is why Omnicon bases their code development on stringent guidelines of widely accepted software documents addressing the entire life cycle. It’s intended for the most critical or vital applications like yours.

We are not here to “re-create the wheel” or to find some new “silver bullet” that allows you to generate bug-free robust code, but what we can do is stress the importance of having a process that includes the following:

  1. Define Requirements
  2. Create a Design
  3. Code to a Standard
  4. Test…and Test Some More!
  5. Perform Peer Reviews

Phase 1 Define Requirements:
Depending on the industry, the requirement definitions may vary depending on the product and the process followed. For example, for a waterfall process, knowing the most complete and full set of requirements up front are desired. Sure they WILL change, but the idea is try to get the requirements solidified as early as possible. For an iterative process, requirements are expected to mature iteratively over time. Even for a waterfall process, some level of iteration is beneficial. Regardless of the process, it is important that all stakeholders understand what needs to be built. This starts with good requirements.

Phase 2 Create a Design:
As requirements solidify, organize the software using block diagrams and high-level flow-charts. This should yield an architecture and the beginnings of source code modules and functions. Using code comments, start to fill in the functions. There are tools available that can be used to extract specific comments from the code into a design document. This allows the design and the code to coexist, providing numerous benefits.

Phase 3 Code to a Standard:
It is important to create a standard but not one so heavy and restrictive that developers will resist using it. Pick the “rules” that are important and form those into the standard. Get buy-in from the development team and then enforce the standard. Code maintainability going forward will be more manageable.

Phase 4 Test…and Test Some More!:
If you have the benefit of having separate test engineers, use them. If you don’t have this benefit, consider adding them to your staff. Regardless, try to have some level of independence when creating “requirements based” test cases – as long as it’s not the developer of the code. Unit testing can be the responsibility of the developer, however independent testing has been proven to yield the best results. Don’t wait until the end to test. Developers should provide regular code “drops” to the test team. This allows the test to be verified and the code to be checked along the way.

Phase 5 Perform Peer Reviews:
All phases of software development should rely on peer reviews. Reviewing requirements, designs, code and test cases will yield the best results and provide the best opportunity for delivering a robust end product on schedule. Developing review checklists will help to guarantee reviews are performed consistently from person to person and product to product.

Omnicon’s engineers know that software development requires a detailed and rigorous process to best assure that the final product is correct and as reliable as possible. Our approach to software development has led to a 96% repeat customer base and knowing how to engineer the best solutions to meet your program challenges.

May 16, 2017

Posted In: Blog Series

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