need and ability to transform wiring diagrams into a
interactive digital medium has a long history. Where ground
breaking approaches, such as Boeing's patented, automated
schematic transformation process have paved the way to making
the concept a reality. Many other approaches have since been
developed but not all are equivalent. The spectrum of
solutions are from tools that bound the user to a CAD tool, so
the wire tracing begins at the design of a system or redrawing
a legacy system from scratch, to others that are much more
service oriented and don't sell tools, but what they can do is
import CAD information and transform the diagrams from just
line primitives into colorful diagrams with tracing
capability. But, unfortunately, many such services have no
true circuit awareness or S1000D wiring module capability.
Still vendors will claim an S1000D ability but they never
disclose the work effort of modifying their processes to
become S1000D compliant. So many researching how to implement
a wiretracing solution will look at past wiretracing projects
to get a perspective of the effectiveness and costs involved.
But this kind of research fails to glean the progress made in
this niche industry. For instance if you evaluated the Global
Hawk's wiretracing solution you might leave a little wary. Why
you may ask? Let me explain:
was personally involved with the Global Hawk wiretracing
project while employed by TFDG*. The Global Hawk was a project
acquired before I was employed and in fact no automated
wiretracing tools existed in the organization at the time. The
funny thing about how wiretracing tools at TFDG came about was
because I was given a stack of Global Hawk diagrams to
manually hotspot using a CGM editor, please realize that I was
hired as a senior software engineer, hardly an illustrator
experienced with CGM editors.
I was trained on how to use the editor to create the
wiretracing hotspots I realized that there was a way to
process diagrams with software to achieve the equivalent
results that met Northrop Grumman's requirements of a
wiretrace. With that said, what qualified as a wiretrace was
actually an illusion of a wiretrace! Yes it did trace a line
across diagrams and colorize it as well as highlight on the
diagram but there was no informational relationship between
what was hot-spotted as a wire and what it was connected to.
Meaning the informational relationship was something a
human-being was cognitively doing by looking at the colorized
label of the wire's name. While the CGM hotspot tag did
contain information as to the wire type, power, ground or
signal, there was a data disconnect to the equipment the wire
connected to, its actual labeling and no hierarchical
relationships of the assemblies and sub-assemblies existed.
Such an approach does not qualify as a true connective
wiretrace as described by the S1000D specifications. But this
was good enough for Northrop at the time.
big problem with what was delivered to Northrop as a
wiretracing solution is the approach lacked the means to
transform into an S1000D compliant wiring solution, at least
not easily and definitely no S1000D wiring module could be
construed from the data generated to build the CGM hotspotted
lines! The Global Hawk solution was limited tool
that could not apply any form of machine intelligence,
other than a database query, to circuit troubleshooting. There
was no means to apply predictive analysis or generate
consequence reports since no S1000D type connectivity
information existed in the database or viewing tool. Also
the solution was very difficult to maintain since what was
delivered as maintenance tools to Northrop were simply a COTS
CGM editor, which required the manual creation of a wiretrace
hotspot, and a database. Yes, believe it or not, this passed
the mustard, at the time, as a wiretracing solution.
then I started Atlas Dynamics and the early days of a
primitive simple tracing tool have come a long way. Atlas was
founded on the vision to bring wiretracing to a sophisticated
level that can produce an S1000D wiring module from any
existing schematic source, CAD, paper, or raster diagrams. The
biggest problem from legacy systems to comply with S1000D
wiring module requirements is capturing the hierarchical
relationship and wiring inter-connectivity without having to
manually type in this form of semantic information.
Ultimately the goal of Atlas was to create a more
competitive playing field by allowing technical publication
firms that other wise would not pursue a wiretracing project
because to build their own tools they would face very high
software development costs.
requirements for a wiretracing solution emerged from the
concept to develop a tool that required no IT
or software development support from the publication
organization using the Atlas tools. This meant the tools
needed to be adaptable,accurate and
There were other lessons learned from my past experiences,
such as, the lack of workflow and document management, where
literally organizations simply used excel and ad-hoc check
lists to QA diagrams. Atlas' tools employ document and
workflow management as part of the package of its tool suite.
The QA is machine assisted where all components and wires are
monitored to insure labeling and typing are consisted across
all diagrams. We automated the cross diagram linking of
circuits that other organizations literally do manually! We
also solved the problem as to how to manage applicability and
provide a coherent navigation system across applicable systems
and diagram versions, this includes differentiating applicable
system versions. When all is done, its simply a matter of
clicking a button to produce the S1000D wiring modules and a
viewer with all the completed processed diagrams that can be
installed on any Windows tablet or laptop.
researching past wiring solutions, such as the Global Hawk,
realize that the state of the art has evolved, or at least it
has at Atlas Dynamics. Atlas' wiretracing tools, which have
been used on aircraft such as Lockheed's C 130**, is a very
sophisticated, easy to use and complete solution. The Atlas
tool suite is the most cost effective wiretracing solution on
the market today .
did away with their wiretracing group many years ago by
selling the division.
the post regarding the C 130 does not imply nor should
be perceived as an endorsement by Lockheed
Martin Corporation. Lockheed Martin Corporation, as a
company policy, does not endorse third party products.