Printed Circuit Board Analysis Tool (PCBAT)


The Navy desires a prototype software application that we call Printed Circuit Board Analysis Tool (PCBAT). Printed circuit board analysis, in this context, is the automation of assessing the physical configuration, condition, and provenance of electronics and associated components on printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs) to manage supply chain risk; these efforts are done manually today at a high cost. PCBAT will ingest imagery or other relevant data about PCBAs and will use computer vision and other algorithms to generate data and information that will be used in downstream assurance efforts. A Bill of Materials (BOM) is an inventory of what is used to fabricate a PCBA; generating a BOM is the immediate priority for PCBAT considering that commercial vendors do not provide this information for Information Technology (IT) products that they sell. The goal for this solicitation is to begin efforts towards the development of an application that can economically, efficiently, and accurately generate BOMs. A BOM generated from this tool is necessary to initiate supply chain illumination which is a key component to supply chain risk management—the process of identifying, assessing, and mitigating the risks associated with the global and distributed nature of product and service supply chains. Other potential PCBAT functions might be multi-modal analysis to identify high-risk electronics, identification of likely remarked electronics, environmental issues, rework issues, and any other identifiers of low trust electronics.

DoD programs rely heavily on commercial microelectronics to maintain a technological advantage over the adversary. This reliance on commercial hardware has resulted in a dramatic decline in visibility of critical supply chains. Currently, printed circuit board analysis is a largely manual process done with pure brute force; the process is subject to variance and other errors. Commercial manufacturing considers the BOM to be proprietary information; therefore, we must independently generate the BOM in order to perform supply chain illumination. To generate the BOM, a detailed external visual is performed using optical imaging and each component must be analyzed to determine the manufacturer, part number, country of origin, date/lot code, and serial numbers.

The purpose of this prototype is to determine the feasibility of developing a distributable tool to help automate functions that are necessary to make assessments of low trust, versus Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS), electronics. COTS electronics offer great functionality at affordable prices, but these are only possible with a complex global supply chain. DoD programs require hardware assurance (HwA) risk management efforts to use COTS electronics in critical systems. NSWC Crane is the Navy lead for the Joint Federated Assurance Center (JFAC) hardware assurance efforts. Currently, the demand for the service of supply chain illumination dramatically exceeds the BOM generation capacity across the JFAC service provider labs. JFAC service providers also experience a reduced capacity when scaling developed capabilities at the component level to the circuit card assemblies and systems level. Including but not limited to thermal imaging, acoustic microscopy, infrared, x-ray, and terahertz imaging. Therefore, a prototype, PCBAT, shall be developed to facilitate assessment efforts so that Department of Defense (DoD) programs can make informed decisions on their hardware for system design and overall acquisition process.