Embedded Systems are increasingly found in industrial and military machinery and vehicles, whether for safety-critical digital control or instrumentation.

 

The service life of the machinery may far outweigh the estimated design life of the embedded system. If a fault develops on a legacy embedded system it may be difficult to rectify because of discontinued parts, lost design documentation (such as circuit diagrams and firmware), or the original manufacturer no longer supports the product and has since exited the business.

 

Although this is not core to our design business, we offer several services for legacy embedded systems where they are critical to the operation of machinery, vehicles, or manufacturing systems. These may be very old descrete microprocessor systems, or networked systems that use modern networked sensors via CANbus networks.

 

Broadstone Technologies undertook the repair and refurbishment of the digital system controller and electronic instrumentation for these heavy duty fork lifts.

 

Refurbishment

We can inspect a legacy system and provide preventative maintenance. Systems which are exposed to hostile environments (e.g. water, ultraviolet sunlight, extreme temperatures and corrosive chemicals) can be inspected and protected before costly damage occurs. For example, a preventative solution may be as simple as upgrading switches and connectors to higher environmental classification, replacing polarizing sheets on LCDs because of heat damage, or protecting the firmware integrity before bit loss occurs in legacy memory components such as EPROM.

Repair

If a unit cannot be returned to the original manufacturer and information on the design is unavailable, then we provide this cost effective solution where the replacement cost of the host machinery is prohibitively expensive. We have experience in reverse engineering unsupported legacy embedded systems so as we can confidently repair and test. This may involve working closely with the client if the system is part of a larger specialised bespoke system, for example in a manufacturing plant.

Obsolescence and Design

Managing obsolescence is one of the most difficult aspects of engineering. If we are unable to repair a legacy device then we can use the information gained in the repair/investigative process to redesign a system. Although this is a last resort and a more costly solution, it is often more cost effective than rendering the host unit unrepairable. When we opt to run a program in this way with our clients, we supply full documentation so the client has the security of a trusted product that may be, if necessary, maintained by a 3rd party in the future. Experience in other fields means we always design safely, and if required we will build in multiple levels of redundancy to published safety standards.

 

Please note that we do not work with certified aviation equipment.