• Predictive Analytics for Improved Cost Management  



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With the latest update for TruePlanning 16.0, we have a new plugin for Phoenix Integration’s ModelCenter tool.  ModelCenter aids in the design and optimization of systems, and is a popular tool with many TruePlanning users in the aerospace and defense industry.  The new plugin will allow users to integrate TruePlanning’s cost models with computer-aided design (CAD) tools, simulation tools, performance models, Excel, etc. and automate data sharing between them. By linking these models/tools together, you can do in-depth studies on the entire trade space for a design, and find optimal answers to very complex design questions.  And with the ...
Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) are integrated circuits designed to be configured by a designer after manufacturing.  In recent years, FPGA usage has been increasing at a rapid pace, as their capability (speed, energy efficiency, amount of logic that can fit on the chip, etc.) has come to rival ASICs.  As both the number and size of FPGA projects has increased, improving methods of cost estimation of these projects is becoming more critical for project success. FPGA development combines aspects of both hardware development and software development.  These projects begin with architectural design and writing code in a Hardware Description ...
We’ve added many cool new features to our Hardware estimating model in TruePlanning® 2016, and I’d like to introduce the new Learning Curve features in this blog. First, we’ve added the ability to pull out the theoretical cost of any individual production unit, anywhere along the learning curve.  We call it the “Nth Unit Cost” metric.  This has been requested by many users, notably Air Force users and aircraft manufacturers, where it is common to use the 100th unit cost as a reference point to compare different types of aircraft.  Simply enter a value for “N”, and the Metrics tab ...
TruePlanning® 2016 will be coming out very soon, and with it, we will debut a new set of cost estimation models for Operational / Site Activation / Deployment of automated information systems (AIS).  These models capture the costs of system deployment activities on one or more sites (study visits, installation, commissioning, migration, etc...).  These activities are performed in a design office and on the sites defined by the contract.  They begin at the end of the development phase and continue through the installation phase of the site’s systems. The model was built with the guidance from experts with 30+ years ...
TruePlanning® 2016 will be coming out very soon, and one of its new capabilities is modeling of scheduled maintenance activities.  Our hardware operation and support (O&S) model has historically focused on the costs involved with unscheduled maintenance, which are maintenance activities that react to a situation (e.g. a system failure) that needs to be fixed or replaced.  However, scheduled maintenance can also be a significant cost, and this can now be captured by our hardware model.  Here are some example situations that can now be easily modeled. Scheduled maintenance is performed at regular intervals, which can be based on calendar ...
We’ve wrapped up our first phase of research on the cost implications of Additive Manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, and we have just begun phase two.  We teamed up with Additive Manufacturing groups in academia and industry, developed a research approach and estimating structure with the guidance of experts, and began collecting cost and technical data.  So far, we have gathered 648 datapoints from 3 organizations, which mainly includes data from 6 different printers.  The data are mostly for stereolithography (SLA) and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) processes.  For our first cut at the data analysis, the ...
Original Post Date: July 2, 2015 One topic we’re focusing on for the next version of TruePlanning is supporting a variety of methods for estimating an activity.  For example, we currently have sophisticated algorithms supporting our estimation of spare units/modules/parts, which depend on characteristics of the item, as well as the operating and support (O&S) scenario described.  However, there are often good reasons for wanting to use a different method to estimate these costs, and we’d like to give users the ability to pick from a variety of methods. Many users want to be able to estimate initial spares costs before ...
Original Post Date: June 25, 2015 Additive Manufacturing (or 3D Printing) is a set of manufacturing processes that are rapidly increasing in popularity and cost-effectiveness.  In Additive Manufacturing, digital 3D design data is used to build up a component by adding layer upon layer of material.   Many existing cost estimating relationships (CERs) are based on traditional subtractive manufacturing methods, where you often begin with a larger piece of material, and remove the unwanted sections, leaving behind the desired part.  These CERs may not accurately predict additively manufactured part costs, so PRICE is focusing research efforts in this area. There are many ...
We’ve kicked off a study of the cost impacts of various development standards, and this post discusses a customer request on the cost impacts of IEEE/EIA 12207. IEEE 12207 establishes a common framework for software life cycle processes, with well-defined terminology that can be referenced by the software industry [1].  Adherence to this standard helps to eliminate misunderstandings between contractors and procurers and significantly improves chances of mission success, a major part of which is preventing cost and schedule overruns [2, 3]. IEEE 12207 contains a set of management, engineering, and data requirements for all parties involved (acquirers, suppliers, developers, operators, ...
I wanted to share a spreadsheet I’ve put together that helps with learning curve calculations and pulling out multiple production lot data showing the learning effects.  It provides useful lot information such as lot average unit cost and lot total costs with the effects of learning curves, escalation, and everything else factored in.  It also has a tab for doing some basic learning curve calculations in multiple lot scenarios by hand and viewing a set of useful metrics. We want all of this kind of information to be available in TruePlanning for the next release.  We’ll have new multiple production ...
We’ve kicked off a study on the cost impacts of various quality assurance standards, and this post gives our preliminary results for modeling DO-178c and DO-254 in TruePlanning®.  DO-178c and DO-254 are standards that deal with the safety of software and electronics used in airborne systems.  It began as a standard used predominately by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for commercial aircraft, and its usage has spread significantly to the U.S. military and many other countries. All of the software and electronics on-board an aircraft are categorized into 5 Design Assurance Levels (DAL) based on how failure of ...
Original Post Date: Friday, November 7, 2014 We’ve recently completed a case study using TruePlanning for Microcircuits to examine the cost impacts of using newer technologies.  Recently, radar T/R module designers have begun substituting Gallium Nitride (GaN) substrates in place of Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) substrates in their designs.  GaN chips can handle significantly more power than GaAs chips, which enables significant performance benefits, while reducing the size/number of chips needed in each module.  But, are the newer GaN chips affordable? The IC fabrication process for GaAs circuits is very similar to GaN circuits.  There are, however, some important differences between these ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 From my perspective as a cost researcher, the calibration tool is one of the most powerful analysis capabilities built into the TruePlanning cost management software . One way I can use this tool is to go back to an old estimate for a project that is now completed, and analyze the correctness of the previously entered input values. With this analysis, I can find ways to improve our methods of soliciting input values from the user to ensure the best values are entered the next time. This way, the TruePlanning models keep getting “smarter” as new information ...
Original Post Date: Friday, June 4, 2010 One of the great features of the TruePlanning cost management software is the fact that it makes it easy to handle complications of inflation and estimating projects performed in different countries and currencies. The costs associated with doing work in different countries, and the relative value of different currencies is constantly changing. To address this, the cost research team at PRICE does an annual economic update performed by the cost research team, and this blog will introduce some of basic concepts and research that goes into maintaining this feature every year. The price of goods and ...
We’re often asked about how to model the cost impacts of various quality assurance standards like SEI Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and CMM-I for software, DO-178c and DO-254 for airborne software and electronics, various MilSpecs, and even process standards like ISO-9000.  As a result, we’re kicking off a study to create new and updated modeling guidance for use with our cost models. Many of these standards have significant overlap, and an implementation of one can give you a head start in implementing another.  For example, DO-178c and DO-254 are design assurance standards, which basically says that if you follow these ...