The Emery Winslow Scale Company is one of the world's oldest manufacturers of Hydrostatic PermaCell™ load cells and force measurement products. Its roots go way back to 1868 when scientist-engineer Albert Hamilton Emery launched an eponymous Connecticut company that manufactured hydrostatic and pneumatic force measurement systems.
After more than a century of industry leadership and innovation developing the most reliable weighing products for the harshest of environments, Emery Winslow created the first Automatic Aircraft Weight and Balance Verification System (AAWBVS). Aircraft performance and handling are dramatically affected by its weight. Excessive weight reduces the efficiency of an aircraft and the safety margin available if an emergency condition should arise. Improper loading also reduces the efficiency of an aircraft from the standpoint of altitude, maneuverability, rate of climb, and/or speed.
An overloaded or improperly balanced aircraft therefore requires more power, a reduced ceiling, greater fuel consumption, and a shortened range in the best flying conditions. But in the worst situations overload and imbalance can be the prime contributors to a catastrophic accident and loss of life during take-off, landing, or in-flight structural failures triggered by turbulence or maneuvering.
Working with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Emery Winslow engineered, manufactured, and installed this mission critical first generation Automatic Aircraft Weight and Balance Verification System (AAWBVS) at the Colombia El Dorado International Airport (BOG) in Bogota Colombia in 1999. It was capable of verifying the weight and balance of a full range of aircraft up to and including the Boeing 747.
“Personnel were concerned with the user experience, software functionality, and software response time.”
More than a decade later because of expansion and changes in runway operations in Bogota it became necessary to move the AAWBVS to another location. However a holistic assessment of the situation quickly indicated that it would be less costly to install a new system at the new location than to extract and move the old one. Furthermore the new AAWBVS operations personnel at BOG (OPAIN S.A.) were concerned with the user experience, software functionality, and software response time of this first generation system.
It was then that Jeff Schmidt, the Electrical Engineering Manager for Emery Winslow turned to Advanced Decisions.
Audio Recording Device for Emergency Services
Customer manufactures proprietary audio recording equipment for emergency services. Delivery was promised to a Systems Integrator and the project was in trouble with delivery schedule.
Assessing the project’s current state and coming up with a technical architecture and schedule to ensure successful delivery.
Advanced Decisions provided the technical and project leadership required to deliver the project. Our first task was to gain an understanding of the requirements promised and the technical architecture proposed and currently worked upon. All development work was halted until the requirements were clearly understood, documented and shared with the client’s management. The architecture was modified in accord with the understanding of the agreed upon requirements and a new schedule was published. ADI led the development staff composed of the clients' programmers and Advanced Decisions software consultants. ADI conducted periodic management status meetings with the Client and the System Integrator and delivered a working unit within the published time-frame.
Developing Wisely for Emery Winslow
Distributed Intelligent Recording Test Appliance
Client manufactures audio recording equipment for telephony integration. The client wanted to reduce testing cost and time by creating a proprietary piece of test equipment that could generate random test data quickly. The device could also be resold to recoup development costs and address a new market niche for test equipment.
The client required a stand-alone, script-based test device. It had to be portable, configurable and remotely accessible. The client also required the device to support 2-T1 or 2-E1 telephony signals with individual time slot control.
Client outsourced the Distributed Intelligent Test Appliance to Advanced Decisions as a fixed-price turnkey system. Advanced Decisions designed a stand-alone network appliance employing a highly integrated microprocessor and custom FPGA technology on a multi-layer PC board. An ARM based microprocessor that incorporates IO was used as the central control element. The THREAD-X RTOS was employed as the real-time pre-emptive kernel. Advanced Decisions developed a variable length flash memory file management system. The user interacted with the device via a script-based language. The language enabled sequential, iterative and logic based instruction processing. The User interface was based upon a web browser based design to allow control of the device, monitoring of the status and software update. The Test Appliance was immediately put in use by test engineers, factory and service personnel. The company is still exploring resale options.
Developing Wisely™ for Emery Winslow
“Advanced Decisions really helped define the software requirements, [and] anticipated issues.”
Jeff had been very impressed with Advanced Decisions who he remarked had invested over a year of time to develop a relationship with Emery Winslow – even without a contract. Advanced Decisions' extensive expertise in developing mission critical applications showed in the consultative approach they took to this challenge. “We had great difficulty in getting requirements from the customer – not only because of a language barrier but also because they were not sure what they wanted,” said Jeff. “Advanced Decisions really helped to define the software requirements, anticipated issues, and offered suggestions to take different approaches to reduce cost and risk all the while making dramatic improvements to the user experience and software functionality. Most importantly they defined a realistic scope and executable plan.”
Advanced Decisions went well beyond scoping the effort. “Advanced Decisions did their own research on the airport location, conditions, and what was required for different aircraft and loading. They not only developed the software and instruction manuals but also came onsite and assisted in the integration, installation, and training of personnel – even through a translator!”
Jeff said that the operations personnel at BOG were very impressed with the quality of the new software and ease of interaction. “I had considered hiring inside for this role but was so impressed with Gary Felberbaum and his team at Advanced Decisions. They were such a pleasure to work with – a true collaboration – and they met their obligations. They were so helpful in trying to help us come to an agreement with the customer on price and quality of work and different ways to do things. And they took the time to explain things before they had an order.”
Direct, Savvy Consulting Produces Results
A 10 year Client of Advanced Decisions needed immediate assistance to address a troubling slowdown in product performance. Over time the software application evolved through continued modifications and resulted in a noticeable decrease in user response during certain activities. Although the Client's own developers were already looking at the problem, the CEO thought it would be faster to initiate a short-term engagement by the product's original software architect. Since the individual is an ADI Consultant and has software and business domain knowledge, the CEO thought it would be faster to have him diagnose and to start making meaningful changes.
The root cause of the Application slowdown was unknown, however one month of consulting service was allocated to diagnose the problem, modify the design and if at all possible to start making meaningful changes to the program. Many years of enhancement to the product of new features was considered to be the cause of the performance degradation. But where was the problem?
The Consultant met with the company developers and then immersed himself in the program. The first step was to reproduce the problem. The Client and Consultant setup a work environment to duplicate the user experience. Using knowledge of the application design and structure the Consultant was able to measure and analyze performance bottlenecks. Within a week the focus was narrowed to a few specific areas with in the overall program. After two weeks the Consultant was able to make enough changes to demonstrate a 2-fold improvement in performance. He was on the right track.
After continued analysis, debugging and more software changes the ADI Consultant was able to achieve an 8-fold improvement in user response. At the end of the four-week assignment, in addition to the improved response, the Consultant proposed software architecture recommendations that the Client could implement which should offer further performance improvement.