OSU Image Processing Research Results in Savings for Manufacturer

THE JOURNAL RECORD, August 23, 1999 | Go to article overview

OSU Image Processing Research Results in Savings for Manufacturer


STILLWATER, (JR) -- When Oklahoma State University master's degree candidate Darren Tepe approached Dr. Scott Acton of the Oklahoma Imaging Laboratory about a problem his employer was having with faulty circuit boards, the two began putting together a collaborative university/private sector team on a project proposal.

Tepe's employer was and today remains Lucent Technologies' facility in Oklahoma City.

The research project they proposed could eventually save the telecommunications manufacturer significant production dollars and time.

Implementation of the results of the project will aid in identifying problems and restoring the functionality of faulty circuit boards planned for use in Lucent's flagship telecommunications switching product.

The proposal had enough merit to receive funding support from Lucent, and the Oklahoma-based research effort went forward.

Today, some 33 months later, Acton, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Oklahoma State University, and the team have presented a final report on the project for the world's leading manufacturer of telecommunications switching equipment. Tests have already been run on the image processing solution they have developed. And they have proven highly successful to date.

Implementation -- expected to occur in the near future -- could save the manufacturer substantial time, money and manpower.

"When Darren explained the issue, I knew we could develop a solution to their problem," says Acton, "it was simply a matter of putting the right team resources together and acquiring the funding to see the project through."

On the client side, that meant teaming with Lucent engineers Tepe, Larry McWilliams and engineering manager, Mike Stallings.

Additional expertise was added from the University of Oklahoma, namely Dr. Monte Tull, recently retired technical supervisor from Lucent, and Dr. Victor DeBrunner of the university's electrical and computer engineering department.

"These gentlemen had specific signal processing expertise in the classification of faults detected, and in wavelets -- methods of extracting features from image data we would gather. Both areas were essential and integral to the success of the research and development of the automated system we were proposing," said Acton.

Acton's team proposal to Lucent incorporated the use of an infrared video imaging inspection, to replace invasive circuit probing techniques. The new infrared system can more clearly define individual problems in faulty circuit boards, while remaining a non- invasive process.

The project was coordinated through Acton's Oklahoma Imaging Laboratory at Oklahoma State University.

When implemented, the new system will automate the inspection of circuit boards that have been discarded as not meeting appropriate functionality for use in Lucent's Model 5ESS -- the world's technological standard for telecommunications switching equipment. The switch and its accompanying components contain an array of circuit boards assembled and installed at the Oklahoma City plant. …

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