Engineering Profile – The Santa Ana Engineering Team

by Keith Heinzig / May 22, 2020

The Benchmark Engineering Profile is an ongoing blog feature highlighting the engineering teams located around the world. This month features the engineering team in Santa Ana, California and completes our series. In case you missed it, check out the profiles of all of our engineering teams: Almelo, Netherlands; Rochester, Minnesota; Phoenix, Arizona; Tempe, Arizona; and Penang, Malaysia. 

For more than 40 years, Benchmark has been a trusted partner in the aerospace, defense, and industrial markets. Our engineering team of 25 highly skilled individuals at Benchmark Secure Technology in Santa Ana, California focus on solving the unique set of challenges these markets pose. We partner with customers to design and build rugged communications, processing, display, and sensing solutions for complex integrated systems.  To do this, we leverage our years of experience and different backgrounds to solve communication systems limitation, interoperability, and environmental challenges.

A Look at Our Capabilities 

Our design support services span the complete product lifecycle, from requirements generation or specification development through depot and product re-design. We work with customers to fully understand the use case, end user needs, and technology challenges in order to develop system requirements. Then our engineers develop a preliminary design, ensuring test readiness and production readiness, and develop a rapid prototype.

Uniquely, we apply the product development process not only to completely new products, but to retrofits and product upgrades as well. Often in aerospace, defense, and industrial applications, replacing an entire piece of equipment is cost-prohibitive; a fighter jet, for example. However, new technology is required to meet needs. The Secure engineering team excels at designing technology sub-systems within the power, size, interface, and other parameters of the existing systems.

Our team  blends a unique set of hardware and software tools and engineering capabilities to ensure we’re able to provide our customers with a one-stop-shop for all of their technology needs. These capabilities and tools include:

  • Solidworks for 3D modeling and Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Cadence Orcad for schematic capture and board layout.
  • Microcode and board support for tactical computers including Windows, Linux, QNX, FreeRTOS and VxWorks operating systems.
  • Experience with multiple microprocessors including Intel, ARM, STMicroelectronics, Microchip and Atmel.
  • A wide variety of compilers for various microprocessors, controllers and FPGA’s.
  • The development of test images that allow us to validate hardware prior to application software load.
  • Test management software including Labview and Teststand.

Our customers work in highly-regulated markets with mission-critical products. We perform qualifications to meet any required MIL specs as well as other U.S. Government standards. We also qualify designs for FCC standards and industry-specific standards, such as American Railway standards. Our facility is also ITAR-registered, and we’re KLIF account holders.


Critical Technology Solutions for Unique Design Environments

Whether we are designing a new product or upgrading an existing one, one of the main focuses of our team of engineers in Santa Ana is designing technology solutions that thrive under a variety of complex constraints. These constraints can include harsh environments such as heat, cold and dust; or unique operational situations, like vibration, G Forces, the need for touch screens to work with flight gloves on, and must-not-fail reliability. We also work to optimize existing components for interoperability within the system, which can require designing retrofits within size, weight and power (SWaP) constraints. All of these design must meet unique regulatory constraints such as MIL standards and information security requirements.

In the military and industrial markets, perhaps one of the most important constraints is the requirement to operate with extreme reliability for the safety and security of our soldiers and workers. We’re very experienced and knowledgeable in multiple areas of design for mission-critical applications, such as displays compatible with Night Vision Imaging Systems (NVIS) that can be viewed in daylight and corresponding human machine interface design (HMID), interconnection hubs and networking, tactical computers, and recorders along with corresponding MIL-SPEC power supplies. 

We serve the military and rugged industrial markets where it must operate whenever needed, and get it right the first time.

A Flexible, Customer-Focused Approach

A staple of the Benchmark culture is flexibility in how we work with customers, and this is no different with our team here in Santa Ana. Customers bring us problems that they hope can be solved by applying our wide range of technology building blocks and capabilities, and we work collectively to design and build a complete custom solution that can be counted on to perform when it matters. Uniquely, the Benchmark Secure Technology team can co-develop joint IP with customers or leverage Secure’s own technology platforms in custom designs. Whether the goal is to manage costs or speed time to market for some customers this partnership approach is extremely valuable.

In other cases, customers value owning all of the IP of a complete custom design. These customers may seek to eliminate risk by leveraging us to design and manufacture an entire sub-system. We can also work as an extension of the customer’s technical team by providing additional talent and specific areas of expertise. This Joint Development Model is perfect for a customer looking to supplement a specific skill, such as thermal management design, or simply to augment manpower.

Ultimately, there isn’t a set model for how we work – our goal is to remain open and flexible to what best suits the needs of each customer. 

A Diverse Portfolio of Exemplary Work

A unique example of our work is a communications system we developed for a customer in the locomotive market. Our team adapted COTS technology to provide 50-100 Mbit Ethernet communications down a very noisy 74-volt DC bus. This a great example of our unique capabilities in data over power. We were able to provide a high-speed common communication link to increase efficiency exponentially which helped to improve fuel, electronic braking, and other integral system optimizations.

In another example, we developed an imaging system for a government customer that needed a high-performance system for an incredibly rugged environment.  In this case, we leveraged our experience developing applications for transit video recorders, cockpit displays, tactical computers and interconnected hubs for various and fixed and rotary-wing aircraft to meet all of the technology and environmental tolerance requirements.

However, what is even more impressive than the diverse portfolio of projects completed by our team, is the loyalty we’ve earned from our customers. We’ve won awards, including a recently announced Raytheon EPIC Award, and developed long-term relationships with some of the industry’s most highly-regarded OEMs. We’re proud to be a long-term partner to so many technology leaders, and believe that this demonstrates the skills and the value we bring to all Benchmark customers.

To learn more about the Santa Ana engineering team and how they help solve challenges in unique environments and highly regulated business sectors, visit Want to find out how the Benchmark Secure Technology team can help you? Contact us.


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about the author

Keith Heinzig

Keith has served as VP of Engineering at Benchmark Secure Technology for nine years. Prior to that he worked as a Program Manager in the aerospace and defense industry.

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