Discover hidden faults in electronic circuits in just a few days, even before constructing a prototype.
The automotive industry relies on the rapid detection of faults during the design phase of electronic systems, and BQR, an Israeli company, has developed an efficient and reliable software tool for this purpose.
Do you remember the days when changing radio channels involved pressing a button, lowering car windows required turning a handle, refueling meant using a spout, and the only safety system in cars was a seat belt? A lot has changed since then. Modern transportation systems heavily rely on electronics, from the vehicles themselves to signaling, charging, and communication systems, and especially in the new trend – electric cars. Consequently, these systems must be highly reliable and safe, as any design errors in the electronic circuits can lead to disastrous consequences.
Amit Ashlag, the CEO of BQR Israeli Company, explains that the debugging process of an electronic system typically involves extensive testing on a prototype. Identifying such design errors on a prototype usually demands thousands of hours of testing. Moreover, when a fault is discovered, it takes hundreds more hours of analysis to determine its source.
To tackle this significant challenge, BQR, a company specializing in reliability engineering for three decades, with a focus on printed circuit boards (PCBs), has developed a simulator called CircuitHawk. This simulator can identify hidden faults in electronic circuits based on electronic schematics before the prototype is built. With the aid of the BQR simulator, these errors can be detected within days, specifically during the electrical schematic phase.
According to Ashlag, the main concept involves collecting component data from the PCB, analyzing the limitations of the components (such as stress, current, temperature, and wiring limitations), and running an electronic simulator that simulates the currents and powers at each electronic point in the circuit. This approach enables the identification of design errors on the board.
Ashlag further notes that design errors can be categorized into several types: high failure rate for certain components due to elevated electrical stresses that can lead to component burnout, as well as incorrect voltage levels at the inputs and outputs of the chips, which can damage the logic of various processors on the boards. Such faults are often caused by the high operating temperature of components and the configuration of the assemblies.
Frequently, circuits are designed to function within a non-nominal range. Even a minor change to end elements, such as a sensor or an adapter card, can cause the entire circuit to react differently. The CircuitHawk software is capable of handling multi-board structures and can thus uncover design errors that are typically only discovered during the integration stage of the cards. These design deviations frequently occur during updates of the PCB versions.
In recent years, the automotive industry has adopted the ISO 26262 safety standard, which encompasses safety at the sub-system failure level and its effects on the behavior of vehicle systems. According to Ashlag, the CircuitHawk error detection simulator plays a central role in this analysis as part of the reliability analysis required at the system level.
Ashlag concludes by stating that BQR has successfully completed thousands of projects in various industries, including aviation, space, automobile, and energy. The software is indeed suitable for analysis of any product that incorporates electronic circuits. By detecting errors early on and planning a robust design capable of withstanding harsh environmental conditions, such as those found in the transportation industry, development costs can be significantly reduced.
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