engineering support

FCL has supported numerous clients in many ways. Some examples are described below.

Team Strengthening

Many clients use FCL as a means of strengthening their team for a few weeks or months: to bring forward delivery dates, to solve particular hardware problems or to clear some backlog such as design updates, verifications or writing user manuals .  Chris Angove who represents FCL, is highly productive in such environments having successfuly supported many teams: from just one to 30+.

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Product Development

FCL can provide product development support, either 'blue sky thinking' or at any other point in its development cycle. This can be hands-on, using industry standard applications such as Microsoft Office, Excel, Word, MATLAB, Mathcad, AWR Advanced Design System® (ADS) or Microwave Office® (MWO). Usually it is a combination of hands-on development and research backed up by a thorough understanding the requirements. FCL appreciates the values and limitations of CAD-based tools and can judge when to pause these and go hands-on. In many cases the issues to be solved, or very similar ones, have been successfully cleared elsewhere by FCL previously.

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Legacy Product Services

One of FCL's clients was responsible for supporting an airborne product delivered by one of its predecessor companies about 20 years earlier. It included a heavy and bulky multi-crystal local oscillator (LO) module, no doubt an excellent product in its day but a mature technology in an age of programmable, synthesized frequency sources. FCL supported the team in converting the LO module to a synthesized type which was smaller, lighter, more efficient and with improved phase noise performance compared to the original. FCL also devised a standardised design which was subsequently used as a building block in other similar products with minimal modification. FCL is well placed to undertake work on legacy products and will often find ways of adding value to the upgrades at the same time.

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Predictions and Simulations

FCL's representative, Chris Angove has built up high skill levels in many of the mainstream industry standard applications including Mathcad® 15, Matlab® R2019b (with several toolbox add-ons), AWR Microwave Office®, Advanced Design System® (ADS), Ansoft Designer®, Visual Basic for Applications® (VBA), Visual C++ 2015, Visual Basic 2015 and many of the Microsoft Office applications. Several of these are used daily for many different tasks. These, together with a good understanding of the theory from first principles, are a very powerful combination available to clients.

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Procurement Recommendations

FCL was able to save one client over USD 6000 on one part alone compared to their original estimates, a successive detection logarithmic video amplifier (SDLVA). That was because the original costing had assumed a five year old quotation. In this case technology advances, volume production and market competition had in fact reduced the price almost by half. FCL located the alternative part and was able to compare its specification with the original and confirm that the cheaper product had a shorter delivery, better specification and was both smaller and lighter than the original.

FCL is often required to examine parts lists or bills of material and recommend cheaper and/or alternative sources which of course meet or exceed the original specifications. FCL is well placed to identify cost savings and opportunities for improved performance and shortened timescales.

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Deliverable Documentation

FCL has authored many types of documentation. For example: design and test specifications, test plans, procurement specifications, user guides and fully referenced in-depth technical papers. Many of the documents, fully reviewed and configured, have been delivered to the customer as part of the product itself and necessary to meet delivery milestones. They have all been subject to formal configuration control. Often, documents have been presented to technically demanding peer group audiences prior to release using tools such as Teamcenter® and PTC Windchill®.

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Feasibility Studies

FCL has been engaged to perform studies into the feasibility of new components, designs and even some 'out-of-the-box' ideas. Its very broad experience and skills portfolio support these perfectly. Where at all possible, emphasis is put on physically demonstrating the performance of the proposed new part or idea. This is highly valued by most customers. Such studies are recorded in detail, fully referenced to reputable sources to allow independent verification.

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FCL has experience of developing equipment upgrades for improved technical performance, smaller power consumption and enhanced person-machine interfacing. Sometimes the resulting added value of the product is marketable to other customers.

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