User Stories

EMSolutions Automates Emissions Control Schedule Planning

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Plots comparing spatial planning fidelity and testing time before using MATLAB and after using MATLAB
Plots comparing spatial planning fidelity and testing time before using MATLAB and after using MATLAB.

“With MATLAB, I can code and debug a new capability much faster than with other languages. Cutting our development time in half with MATLAB was instrumental in our ability to meet a tight timeline. Our customer was convinced that I’d worked 70 hours each week when he saw the results.”

Bancroft Henderson, EMSolutions

Test programs for U.S. Navy radar, communications, and sensor systems require tight control of radio signals and other electromagnetic radiation across test ranges, facilities, and assets. All equipment involved in live tests must adhere to a strict emission control (EMCON) schedule to ensure that electromagnetic radiation is transmitted to the designated assets at specified times.

EMCON schedule planning is often a labor-intensive process in which operators manually aggregate information acquired from several disparate software packages. For a recent Navy program, engineers at EMSolutions used MATLAB® to automate EMCON schedule planning.

“This project really opened our eyes to the internal efficiencies that can be gained by deploying automation solutions with MATLAB,” says Matthew Hostutler, vice president at EMSolutions. “Using MATLAB, we can make our government customers more efficient, which strengthens our relationship with them and increases our potential for follow-on business.”

Challenge

EMSolutions sought to improve an EMCON scheduling approach that relied on legacy software running on multiple systems. Data had to be transferred between these systems manually and then reformatted—a tedious, error-prone process that took hours to complete for each test.

With the test program already in progress, EMSolutions wanted to develop a solution as quickly as possible. They determined that developing an automated system with C or another low-level programming language would take too long. Further, any software packages they used had to be approved for use on a classified network via a formal verification and validation process.

EMSolutions sought to deliver software that operators on a 12- to 18-month duty rotation could use easily after minimal training.

Solution

EMSolutions developed automated EMCON schedule planning software using MATLAB and Systems Tool Kit (STK) software from Analytical Graphics®.

The engineers used MATLAB to create an application with a graphical interface that operators use to specify the desired operating window constraints, as well as the ships, vehicles, radar systems, and other assets involved in the test.

They used STK to calculate the geospatial relationships of ground, sea, and air assets and monitor the signal strength of emissions between assets.

Working in MATLAB, they developed a Component Object Model (COM) interface to enable communication with the STK analytical engine. They used MATLAB Compiler™ to create a COM object, which the application uses to pass formatted calculation commands to STK based on the operator’s input.

With MATLAB and Mapping Toolbox™, the group wrote algorithms to postprocess the results received from STK via the COM interface. They used Mapping Toolbox to calculate distances and areas, convert degrees to nautical miles, and display detailed maps that enabled operators to visually validate scenario laydowns.

The group accelerated the processing of multiple test scenarios by using Parallel Computing Toolbox™ to perform computations in parallel on a multicore desktop.

After processing the results, the MATLAB application generates an EMCON schedule report that operators use to conduct the tests.

EMSolutions engineers verified the MATLAB and STK system by comparing its results to results produced using the manual approach. The new system produced schedules that were more flexible and efficient than schedules produced manually.

The system has been approved by N2/N6, the Navy’s lead office for information dominance, and is currently in use in testing operations.

Results

  • Schedule planning reduced from hours to minutes. “EMCON schedule planning took about eight hours of labor-intensive, error-prone work with the manual approach,” says Bancroft Henderson, senior analyst at EMSolutions. “Automation with MATLAB cut that time to about 10 minutes.”
  • Data collection efficiency increased by 15%. “Previously, operators had neither the manpower nor the computational power to evaluate alternative schedules and scenarios,” says Henderson. “With MATLAB they can automatically check locations and times, and they can quickly react to unexpected asset maintenance events. The result has been a 15% increase in data collection efficiency and about $40,000 in savings monthly for our customer.”
  • Development time halved. “Developing and debugging in MATLAB is much faster than in C++ or a similar language,” Henderson says. “If I had to use C++, the time needed for development on this project would easily have doubled.”

Challenge

Accelerate the planning of emissions control schedules for U.S. Navy systems testing

Solution

Use MATLAB, Mapping Toolbox, Parallel Computing Toolbox, and MATLAB Compiler to develop an easy-to-use application that works with STK to automate schedule planning

Results

  • Schedule planning reduced from hours to minutes
  • Data collection efficiency increased by 15%
  • Development time halved

Products Used

Learn more about EMSolutions