Whether in commercial, military, government or international businesses, a challenge exists to determine the “who, what, when, where and how” that a particular system of interest should evolve over its operational life cycle, and how this evolution can be affordable. The rapid pace of technology evolution accelerates the need for change of instantiated system solutions and creates a life cycle mismatch in systems where the life cycle of the system elements is much shorter than for the system of interest (for commercial electronics, this is often on the order of 10:1 or more). Today’s commercial and defense system-level evolution processes and tools are not structured nor rigorously optimized for sustainment-phase affordability. The challenge is to provide a sustainment-phase Technology and Product Obsolescence Management approach to forecasting that spans the entire system hierarchy and its associated elements across the system sustainment life cycle. The focus of this dissertation begins with an instantiated system baseline having a goal to remain operationally viable through the full sustainment period. This is to be accomplished via management of the system evolution necessitated by technology and product changes of the baseline constituent elements. Thus the initial challenge is to understand the point at which the baseline products will need to be changed (in order to avoid obsolescence impacts) to form a new system baseline (i.e. technology obsolescence forecasting). Once the predicted need for a change is identified, then monitoring the actual progress (of the system technologies and products) must be performed to validate the accuracy of the obsolescence prediction performed in parallel with analysis of the particular technologies and products to articulate a direction for the change (i.e. technology surveillance and roadmapping). However, most often when a change is required in a system due to obsolescence, there are a variety of options for solving that need versus a single roadmap option. Therefore, a comparative analysis using stakeholder appropriate criteria should be performed in order to determine the optimal direction for the change (i.e. technology trade study analysis). These trade studies not only determine the proper direction for obsolescence changes, but provide the decision support for the actual product replacement selection trade studies. Thus far, the technical and schedule aspects of technologies and products have been predicted, monitored, and studied. Therefore, the final puzzle piece encompasses the affordability of each of the trade study options (i.e. system costing). This important topic is integrated with the trade study process and in fact represents a critical input for the determination of technology direction and product selections.
This research provides the systems architects and sustainment engineers with a technology-based management methodology for affordably evolving a system given the instantiated system baseline, stakeholder constraints and emergent operational needs.
Thomas E. Herald, Jr. holds a Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland, and earned his BSEE from the University of Pittsburgh. He is currently a doctoral candidate in Systems Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. As a part of the Systems Design and Operational Effectiveness Program within the Systems Engineering and Engineering Management School at Stevens, the focus of Tom’s dissertation research is on providing the Systems Engineer of a large-scale network-centric system with a closed-loop integrated approach for the sustainment and definition of technology and obsolescence management. Large, network-centric systems utilizing legacy systems, integrating newest technologies and involving highly diverse joint-forces and international stakeholders has increased the magnitude and complexity of systems development and sustainment This has driven the need to provide the System Engineer with additional bottoms-up tangible decision and optimization support. With 22 years of industrial experience at IBM Federal Systems, Loral, and now Lockheed Martin, Tom is currently a Senior Staff Systems Engineer working as a part of the Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors business unit and is responsible for adapting and evolving the traditional custom systems processes for COTS-based systems integration programs. His primary interests are the tangible linkages of program supportability parameters, technology refreshment and insertion considerations into the systems engineering development process.