How fit-for-purpose criteria impacts DAS product selection

TTI IP&E Europe’s director industry marketing defense, aerospace and space Europe, Lee Thompson, introduces electronics purchasing professionals to ‘fit-for-purpose’.

TTI IP&E Europe’s director industry marketing defense, aerospace and space Europe, Lee Thompson

The defence, aerospace and space (DAS) market is well-known for a conservative adherence to product standards, but a new narrative is being drawn within DAS circles: fit-for-purpose. Buoyed by the technical capabilities of large volume industries such as automotive and industrial automation, and fuelled by the sourcing issues of the past two years, DAS designers are increasingly open to considering fit- for-purpose products at development stage.

Fit-for-purpose in most DAS applications means looking beyond MIL and space-grade to commercial off the shelf (COTS) components or COTS Plus. COTS Plus indicates a product with established reliability and production/ test procedures meeting customers’ application quality standards.

Entry-level COTS Plus products typically start with automotive grade AECQ-200, giving the DAS customer access to the latest technology of suppliers to a quickly evolving industry with much higher volumes. Automotive grade products are designed and produced using quality and production processes that consider how and why a product fails. This understanding typically results in faster product revisions, making it an ideal base level for COTS in DAS markets.

COTS Plus mandates a dialogue with a supplier directly (and/or through a distributor) to determine the test and production data available to support performance claims, establish random failure rates and confirm the methods used to exclude defect parts.

TTI IP&E Europe, a distributor with a long history serving hi-reliability industries, advises introducing a distributor to new projects as early in the development as possible. With a 35-strong technical development team that includes interconnect, passive and electromechanical specialists, plus engineers with industry backgrounds, TTI Europe’s team can help define the product/supplier selection, becoming part of the project’s regular technical review. The distribution team ensures component manufacturer support is available on demand and remains close to the customer up to its first production run.

TTI Europe’s guidance has proven valuable to many projects. An example is a low Earth orbit satellite constellation that struggled to meet its cost expectations. TTI Europe helped define the mission critical elements, which remained space- level solutions. However, COTS Plus solutions were introduced for capacitors, resistors, connectors and sensors that bought the project under budget and achieved the required qualification/test criteria.

Another example of fit- for-purpose in action is a range of automotive-grade products designed-in to a fighting vehicle application. With a high shock and vibration standard, TTI Europe ensured the surface-mount components offered either had a flexible termination or could meet this specification. This gave the project engineers a wider scope of solutions to choose from than simply referring to their normal database.

DAS markets have relatively small annual demand, long product legacy and tight supplier qualifications. Introducing technology from the automotive sector addresses these issues: access to a wider component portfolio; potential expansion of the supplier base; and access to more readily available inventory. However, COTS or COTS Plus should not be seen as a direct alternative to established high-reliability qualified solutions, but as an option that can bring technology leadership and a wider scope.

TTI Europe retains a conservative approach; ensuring customers have all the options at their disposal to make a clear fit-for-purpose selection.