This article provides insights into manufacturing and Assembly, Integration, and Testing (AI&T) processes that can be streamlined using Epsilon3‘s solutions.
It also features how the customers can eliminate errors in these processes to ensure the success of the space missions. The article also covers an outlook on the challenges involved in these processes and the integration of Epsilon3‘s solutions in the project lifecycle management
The article was developed in collaboration with Epsilon3, a paying participant in the satsearch membership program.
Space manufacturing and Assembly, Integration & Test (AI&T) processes require precision and attention to detail to ensure mission success. Even small errors in these processes can lead to mission failure, financial losses, and severe impacts on small companies trying to establish themselves in the industry. Thus, streamlining the end-to-end process is crucial to record successful missions and eliminate errors in manufacturing and AIT.
Epsilon3 provides software solutions to streamline operations for launch providers, space manufacturers, and satellite operators. Its software platform manages complex operational procedures, saving operators time and reducing errors. In this article, we will delve deeper into the challenges faced by the space industry and how Epsilon3 helps bring operational productivity and success to space companies.
Increasing complexities in building modern space missions
Modern space missions come in varying sizes and are utilized by both public and private players. Prior to the privatization of the space industry, governments designed, manufactured, launched, and operated space missions mostly manually. However, the privatization and commercialization wave brought critical elements to the space industry, such as speed, efficiency, customization, and repeatability, which pushed the boundaries of space technologies to a new scale. Consequently, the industry has observed the rise of many companies launching satellite constellations in several verticals, such as communication, earth observation, and navigation.
Additionally, multiple government agencies have realized the value of partnering with the private commercial space sector, further skyrocketing the demand for space missions in the industry. As a result, space manufacturing and operations are now carried out on a much larger scale, with many companies scaling up their capabilities and teams within the AI&T segment of a program lifecycle. While some processes involved in space manufacturing and AI&T are still highly dependent on human resources, the probability of errors remains open.
Epsilon3’s software solution provides standardized integration and testing workflows. Some of the key features of Epsilon3 are mentioned below in the graphic:
Understanding the challenges faced in the manufacturing and AI&T process
Understanding the challenges faced in the manufacturing and AI&T process is essential to ensure successful space missions.
A majority of the time, each group within a given company has their own process regarding how to run AI&T. One group may have Python scripts which output data in a specific way, while another may have a grouping of confluence pages, and the last has an excel spreadsheet where they manage everything. Additionally, timelines are ever shifting and most of the time its hard to keep up with what’s been done, hasn’t been done and/or is waiting on other dependencies.
Teams must have a solid plan to address these challenges as a failure to do so could lead to project delays or failures. This could incur huge losses for the customer, eventually leading to the failure to meet project deadlines.
Before any company starts with AI&T, the key stakeholders should lay out each part of the process, the process owners and what information should be communicated, and with whom during every part of the process. Once each piece of the process has been laid out, then the leaders of the company can make informed decisions on people, process/tools, and timelines, essentially filling in the details of each step.
Integrating Epsilon3 solutions in project lifecycle management
During the evaluation stage prior to AIT, engineering managers will see multiple steps of the process where they’ll want tools to help evaluate completion, timeliness, personnel, etc. One tool that could be desired is a tool to manage operations builds, timelines and test procedures. This is something that Epsilon3 specializes in. By utilizing Epsilon3’s software platforms, engineers can create builds, track builds through AIT, revise and track test procedures, and more. Not only will engineers save time and frustration looking for information in multiple places, but it will speed up your AIT processes. Unlike using simple documents or generic project management tools, Epsilon3 provides synchronization and standardization that streamlines and refines processes & procedures.
Epsilon3’s solutions are designed to support the entire project lifecycle, from integration and testing through live operations:
- Interactive real-time synchronized procedures for multiple programs/missions
- Embedded release process including approvals, edits, in-line feedback, and track changes between revisions
- Query-able database of as-run procedures
- Manual and automated procedure views and capabilities
- Integrated telemetry, command and control, and mission data
- Detailed analytics, reports, and dashboards
One of the most common and immediate benefits space companies experience once they begin using Epsilon3 is a significant improvement in efficiency. Some of these anecdotes and customer experience highlights include:
“Our team of several hundred engineers and technicians is 5-6x more productive with Epsilon3 software with 15% less staff.”
“Efficiency has gone up significantly. I’d say on a weekly basis there’s about 5-10 hours saved.”
“It’s hard to quantify the exact number of hours saved, but it’s been a lot more convenient and centralized to maintain the test history via Epsilon3 vs. Confluence.”
“We’ve saved several hours every test cycle.”
When efficiency improves, cost-savings certainly follow as does creativity and innovation. Therefore, Epsilon3 solutions are designed to help engineering and operational teams find more time and resources to continually improve project lifecycles, outcomes, value, and impact.
While failures in the launch segment have been the primary concern in the global space market, it is often overlooked that failures can occur after the system has reached the desired orbit. These failures could potentially be a result of errors that were not eliminated during the manufacturing and AIT process.
To ensure the success of a space mission, enhancing project lifecycle management is crucial. Even though new technologies have made space missions less complex, the demand for mass production and management has increased the possibility of errors and risks in the overall system as well as team communications. This is where Epsilon3’s solutions come in – they are designed to cater to the needs of both traditional space and the new space market, providing an efficient and effective approach to project lifecycle management.
To find out more about Epsilon3 and for more information on their product portfolio, please view the company’s supplier hub on satsearch.