Anticipating needs before they materialize has revolutionized just-in-time manufacturing, but why not transfer just-in-time to maintenance too. After all, why wait until a system has failed before replacing it? Why not replace it just before it fails? Now the National Center for Atmospheric Research claims to be able to sense impending doom before electronic systems fail. Look for maintenance monitoring software to blossom over the coming decade. R.C.J.
Remember in Arthur C. Clarke's "2001: A Space Odyssey" when the HAL-9000 computer recommended that Dave replace a circuit board before HAL's predicted date of its failure? Now National Center for Atmospheric Research researchers claim to have invented such an algorithm that can predict failures in—what else—spacecraft-like satellites. The agency has high enough hopes for the technique to have patented it, and plans to develop versions that can predict failures in any system with observing instruments, such as transportation systems like automobiles, buses, trains and aircraft, as well as in power plants, nuclear reactors, radars arrays, observatories and surveillance cameras.
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