Technical Product Training

How can you plan for maximum uptime and reliability of your simulator?

Simulation installations have a high frequency of use and a matching requirement for uptime. Many flight simulators are operational 24/7. Planning for maximum uptime and reliability is of great importance. What are the factors you need to have in mind when selecting a projector for your simulator?

Some of the most important factors are:

  • Serviceability
  • Light Source
  • Product design, sealed and protected key components
  • Product warranty

In-field serviceability 

When selecting a projector for your simulation installation, the projectors need to be easily serviceable in the field (your team should also be certified to perform repairs and service on site where applicable). Other important factors are the projectors’ design, build quality and compatibility for 24/7 operation on a motion platform. Components must have a long lifespan combined with low requirements of scheduled maintenance. If you need to replace the cooling system of the projector, it should be cartridge based and replaceable without removing the projectors from the system. 

Being able to monitor the health and performance of the projectors as well as to perform adjustments (management) on the projectors without physical access to them is a given requirement. Vendors should provide both desktop and mobile (app) options for this.

Multi-channel challenges related to planned service 

When a multi-channel projector setup is serviced, the projectors physical position might be compromised. This shift can result in poor quality in the blend and overlapping zones of the projectors on the screen. It is important that the projectors support an easy to use and intuitive color calibration system.

What light source is recommended for simulation?

Since the introduction of mainstream laser projectors in 2016 and LED projectors some years earlier, the most common light source is still lamps. Where a traditional projector lamp’s lifespan can be 1,000-1,500 hours vs. a true solid state solution (LED or pure RGB laser) that has a lifespan of up to 100,000 hrs. It is quite obvious that a solid state light source that requires service after 50,000 hours will have a large impact on the uptime and reliability of the system. All new projectors in simulation applications should have true solid state illumination with no moving parts.

Recommended reading: What are the benefits of a solid state light source in a projector?

Product design and sealed optical components 

In addition to the light source, there are other key components inside the projectors that would require periodic downtime, which, in turn, drives the cost of maintenance. It can be the imaging device (DLPⓇ from Texas Instruments) or the cooling fans. The imaging device should also ideally be sealed hermetically from other key parts of the optical design to reduce image degradation and downtime. Today, you find projectors in the market that provide 50,000 hours of runtime before any service is required and – of course – with sealed optical design. 

Projector warranty programs 

The manufacturer’s belief in its own product longevity and quality is often also mirrored in the warranty programs. While some projectors are offered with a standard 1 year warranty, the majority of projector manufacturers for the simulation market seem to offer both 2 and 3 years on their simulation projectors as standard. Some also offer an extension so that the total warranty period is 5 years. However, there is an alternative vendor that offers 5 years standard warranty on their projectors and an extension program, which gives 10 years warranty in total.

CTA: If you are interested in other important factors to consider when selecting a projector for your simulation system, have a look at our free Checklist.

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