From scientific instrument to industrial machine

Coping with architectural stress in embedded systems

Editors of the book are ESI research fellows Richard Doornbos and Sjir van Loo.

The book is a result of the applied research project Condor, conducted under the responsibility of ESI with FEI Company as the carrying industrial partner. Condor was set up in 2007 as a first step to answering the question "how can we adapt the current system architecture of an electron microscope to obtain a predictable and automated system that can be used in industry?". While the question was posed with one of FEI's electron microscopes in mind, both the question and the project's results are equally valid for other systems.

In his foreword to the book, dr. Frank de Jong, director Research & Technology of FEI, says: "For FEI, the first result has been to get an outside view from the ESI and university partners into the technology and architectures we develop in-house. (...) This book gives an excellent overview of the more tangible results which this project achieved." He concludes: "Did FEI reach its objective: did we transform our instruments into flexible but more industrial-grade tools? It has not always been easy to see this through the very dynamic business environment at FEI, but the long-term strategy in this direction is even stronger than when we started. To really transform our architectures and systems is a long and difficult process. However, it is really happening, and the Condor project helped to overcome some of the first hurdles!"

Condor bookFrom scientific instrument to industrial machine

Coping with architectural stress in embedded systems

Architectural stress is the inability of a system design to respond to new market demands. It is an important yet often concealed issue in high tech systems.

In From scientific instrument to industrial machine, the researchers look at the phenomenon of architectural stress in embedded systems in the context of a transmission electron microscope system built by FEI Company. Traditionally, transmission electron microscopes are manually operated scientific instruments, but they also have enormous potential for use in industrial applications. However, this new market has quite different characteristics. There are strong demands for cost-effective analysis, accurate and precise measurements, and ease-of-use. These demands can be translated into new system qualities, e.g. reliability, predictability and high throughput, as well as new functions, e.g. automation of electron microscopic analyses, automated focusing and positioning functions.

The book takes a pragmatic approach with system modelling and prototyping as key techniques to develop better understanding and innovative solutions to the problems associated with architectural stress.

It is targeted mainly at industrial practitioners, in particular system architects and engineers working on high tech systems. It can therefore be read without particular knowledge of electron microscope systems or microscopic applications. The book forms a bridge between academic and applied science, and high tech industrial practice. By showing the approaches and solutions developed for the electron microscope, it is hoped that system designers will gain some insights in how to deal with architectural stress in similar challenges in the high tech industry.

The book is published by Springer Verlag and can be ordered here.

Partners in the Condor project
The Condor project involved a consortium of industrial and academic partners. The industrial partners were FEI Company and Technolution. FEI, the carrying industrial partner, has a worldwide leading position in the development and supply of electron beam microscopes. Technolution develops electronics and software solutions for technical information systems and embedded systems. They have know-how in the field of image processing techniques, and work as development partner for FEI.
The academic partners were Eindhoven University of Technology, Delft University of Technology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and University of Antwerp.