Michael (Mike) McCormack, president of Chassis Plans, used to see monsters. And not the imaginary kind. During his recent conversation with EECatalog about the factors that led the New York Transit Authority to select his company for a number of its applications, McCormack recalled that as a U.S. Air Force Airborne Communications Engineer, “I saw computers that were huge monsters and now I see that my phone has more processing capability than those computers did.” McCormack made the recollection to support his argument that technology will continue to evolve. That won’t necessarily mean a situation where as it evolves every company has the same technology, he said. But should that happen, according to McCormack, the differentiators will be “service and support and reliability.” Excerpts from the interview follow.
EECatalog: Let’s start with a quick thumbnail of Chassis Plans.
Mike McCormack, Chassis Plans: We are a manufacturer of computer hardware and everything related within that space, so it could be a computer, it could be a single board computer, it could be an LCD display, it could be storage arrays, rugged switches, pretty much anything that you could imagine [as being part of] a computer hardware environment that could be used in a noncommercial environment.
Chassis Plans has a military background and then moved as well into industrial applications such as mass transit, robotics, factory applications, offshore oil and gas, mining—where you are not in a controlled environment.
EECatalog: How are you defining “commercial”?
McCormack, Chassis Plans: Commerical is someplace where the HPs, the IBMs the Dells play. They don’t require a long road map. They don’t require revision control; they don’t require some sort of physical or environmental ruggedness.
EECatalog: Unlike, for example, the systems that the New York Transit Authority contracted with Chassis Plans to provide.
McCormack, Chassis Plans: Yes, the [transit] environment is a lot more challenging. If you are sitting there in a kiosk in New York City, and you’re a single board computer embedded in a ticket kiosk, you might have trouble with that system surviving once it gets up into high summertime temperatures or winter temperatures that are below freezing.
We design systems specifically manufactured to meet that kind of environment [temp extremes] [Chassis Plans systems] have thermal dynamic properties that allow them to survive in a very hot or cold environment, and where you might have dust and dirt at the same time.
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