Solving the challenges of optical test instrumentation obsolescence

If you’re facing end-of-life or sustainment challenges with optical test and measurement equipment, PXI offers a comprehensive proactive solution.

Many military and commercial programs are required to support production of hardware beyond the life span of equipment used to test it. This presents a multitude of problems. It is undesirable to make system changes that would result in the need to modify existing processes that have been in the field and working for many years.

Companies often moth-ball custom proprietary architectures due to reduced sales volumes, or cost-of-goods increases. While suppliers often change business strategies to target promising new markets, often leaving existing customers looking for ways to deal with sustainment and obsolescence management.

Engineers are often confronted with the challenge that older test equipment is based upon proprietary architectures. Both optical and electrical test instrumentation can fall into this dilemma.

There are four main strategies to reactively address obsolescence

  • Last-time buy
  • Redesigning around a similar component
  • Integrating a new component or migrating to a new platform
  • Drop-in replacement

With a last-time buy, the customer owns the supply risk and may face high capital expenditure for spare parts that may have a limited shelf life.

Redesigning around similar components can be a costly exercise and difficult to estimate the investment required for R&D and implementation. The same situation applies for integrating new components or migrating to new platforms. In these cases the customer bears the risk and possible downtime of operations.

With a drop-in replacement, customers may have a light validation effort, but may face yet another obsolescence challenge in the near future.

This is especially true for instruments based on the legacy custom architectures. The cost to rewrite a single Test Program Set (TPS) due to the replacement of legacy or obsolete instrumentation can be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A proactive approach to obsolescence management

Facing such high costs, engineers should take a proactive approach to obsolescence management and consider modern test platforms whenever possible to streamline the validation effort.

One such test and measurement platform is PXI. PXI is an open industry standard governed by Coherent_Solutions_PXImodules_websitethe PXI Systems Alliance (PXISA), a group of more than 70 companies chartered to promote the PXI standard, ensure interoperability, and maintain the PXI specification. PXI deployments continue to grow at a steady rate and will continue to dominate test and measurement ecosystem.

Designing a test system for long-life operation means making decisions with the entire life cycle of the system in mind. Coherent Solutions understands this critical approach and as a result, we fully support the PXI industry standard with a complete portfolio of photonic test instruments including tunable and fixed-wavelength lasers, optical power meters, optical switches, VOAs, OSAs and more.



If you would like more information on how our PXI photonic test modules can solve your obsolescence challenges, please leave your name and email below.