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1. WO2020192930 - THERMAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM, METHOD, AND DEVICE FOR MONITORING HEALTH OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

[ EN ]

Description

Thermal management system, method, and device for monitoring health of electronic devices

The present invention relates to thermal management of

electronic devices.

Typically, industrial devices, for example, industrial

automation devices are subjected to extreme conditions owing to the surrounding ambient temperature, poor ventilation, and/or dusty environment. One of the main reasons of failure of these devices involves operating the devices at extreme temperatures. Typically, any industry includes these devices in large numbers because of which they are rarely ever opened and cleaned thereby, accumulating dust over time. Moreover, these

devices are often not easily accessible for inspection due to their positioning. This leads to a gradual deterioration in their heat dissipation capacity and eventually failure of the devices .

As such devices are critical for the operation of an industry the failure of devices, especially control devices, has a large impact on the maintenance costs as well as reliability of operations happening in the industry. However, a gradual increase in the operating temperature of the devices is inevitable. Failure to monitor and raise a flag at appropriate deviations in the operating conditions may lead to heavy costs and operational hindrances including safety issues.

Conventionally, a discrete electronic component used for building the electronic circuitry is typically designed to perform at the rated voltage or current so that the heat produced by the component is within the limits. However, in a circuit where such discrete components are placed in tight proximity of one another, heat generated by neighbouring components can affect the overall operation of the circuit.

Furthermore, thermal failures of smaller components like resistors typically goes unnoticed in such circuits. The test scenarios that these circuits are put through may not be able to reproduce all the real-life scenarios associated with field conditions due to constraints on time invested in testing.

Conventional techniques used in addressing the aforementioned problems involve designing the circuitry for extreme temperature conditions by choosing the components having wide tolerances to temperatures, using highly available redundant control systems in which stand-by components take over in case primary

components fail, thereby, minimizing the risk involved, and/or use of heat sinks. However, this increases cost associated with the components . Moreover, the control systems employing such circuits become very slow as each of the components introduced for maintaining redundancy have to synchronize the process steps involved in the operation of the component which when failed is to be replaced by the redundant component. Other conventional techniques used in addressing the aforementioned problems involve elimination of cooling fans in the circuits to avoid influx of ambient air into the circuit and as a result

surrounding dust and dirt entering into the circuit. However, this may increase risks of thermal runaway due to absence of proper ventilation. The conventional techniques further involve use inbuilt processors that detect rise in temperature and take appropriate actions to curb the temperature rise. However, these processors do not cover entire set of active and passive

components in the circuits. Moreover, this technique involves use of sensors such as infra-red sensors that are embedded onto the circuits which feed temperature data from certain zones of the circuit to a thermal monitoring unit which either

extrapolates the data to a possible thermal breakdown threshold or interpolates the values of temperatures of these zones as well as neighbouring zones to form a continuous temperature map. However, the extrapolation and/or interpolation techniques do not offer a reliable solution due to lack of real-time data.

Therefore, it is an object of the present invention to provide a system, a method, a thermal management device, and an electronic device that generates thermal profiles of the electronic device to minimize risk of failure of the electronic device while ensuring reliability and cost-efficiency.

The present invention achieves the aforementioned object by employing a thermal management device, a thermal management system, a method, an electronic device for managing thermal data associated the electronic device.

According to the present invention, a thermal management system comprising one or more electronic devices and a thermal

management device communicatively couplable with the electronic devices is provided.

According to one aspect of the present invention, the thermal management system is a technical installation, for example, an industrial automation environment comprising electronic devices installed in large numbers and difficult to access.

The electronic device disclosed herein comprises an integrated circuitry and a thermal sensing unit adaptable to sense thermal data associated with the electronic device. The integrated circuitry comprises a plurality of components, active and passive, for example, microcontrollers, microprocessors, transformers, transistors, resistors, capacitors, inductors, gates, etc.

According to one aspect of the present invention, the integrated circuitry is installed on a multi-layer printed circuit board (PCB ) .

According to another aspect of the present invention, the integrated circuitry is installed on a single layer printed circuit board (PCB) .

The thermal sensing unit comprises multiple thermal sensors operably connected with the integrated circuitry. As used herein, "thermal sensing unit" refers to an array of thermal sensors deployable in the electronic device to sense thermal data. The thermal data comprises, for example, temperature sensed at a particular location on the PCB, a time instant at which the temperature is sensed, a spatial location on the PCB at which the temperature is sensed, the electronic device for which the temperature is sensed, etc. The thermal sensors include but are not limited to negative temperature coefficient sensors, resistance temperature detection sensors, thermocouple sensors, and semiconductor-based sensors.

According to one aspect of the present invention, the thermal sensing unit is configured as one of the layers of a multi-layer PCB, that is, the electronic device. In this aspect, the thermal sensing unit comprises a grid, the density of which is configured based on the integrated circuitry of the electronic device. In this aspect, each finite element of the grid contains four thermal sensors installed therein.

According to another aspect of the present invention, the thermal sensing unit is configured as a mountable installation on a single-layer PCB, that is the electronic device. In this aspect, the thermal sensors include a mini/micro thermal imaging sensor installed on the single-layer PCB not in form of a layer but as an external component installed within the packaged electronic device.

The thermal sensors selectively sense the thermal data

associated with the integrated circuitry of the electronic device, via the thermal management device. Each of the thermal sensors is individually addressable by the thermal management device via a communication interface of the electronic device. Each of the thermal sensors is operable in three states

comprising, for example, an open state, a closed state, and a sense state. In the open state, the thermal sensor offers a high impedance, however, is transparent to the communication signals being received from the thermal management device, that is, the thermal sensor is in an off state. In the closed state, the thermal sensor acts merely as a conductor or a load connected to the electronic device without sensing thermal data. In the sense state, the thermal sensor, is activated and starts sensing the thermal data.

According to one aspect of the present invention, the sense state includes selective sensing of integrated circuitry via a selected set of the thermal sensors associated with the integrated circuitry.

According to another aspect of the present invention, the sense state includes selective control of the resolution, that is, a granularity of the thermal data being sensed, via selective activation of thermal sensors across the grid.

According to another aspect of the present invention, the thermal sensing unit of the electronic device, comprises a multiplexing unit such as a customized application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) configured to converge connection terminals of each of the grid elements across the length and the breadth of the grid. The multiplexing unit is connected to the communication interface, for example, using the data

distribution service (DDS) communication protocol. The thermal sensing unit of the electronic device communicates with the thermal management device via the communication interface for transfer of the thermal data and receipt of instructions for selective activation of the thermal sensing unit.

The thermal management device disclosed herein, comprises a non-transitory computer readable storage medium storing one or more modules comprising computer program instructions, and at least one processor communicatively coupled to the non-transitory computer readable storage medium, and executing the computer program instructions, is provided. As used herein, "non-transitory computer readable storage medium" refers to all computer readable media, for example, non-volatile media, volatile media, and transmission media except for a transitory, propagating signal.

According to one aspect of the present invention, the thermal management device is an edge device deployable in an Internet of Things (IoT) computing environment. For example, the thermal management device is deployable in an industrial environment where it communicates with one or more electronic devices installed therein via a private wired or wireless communication network such as a private cloud.

According to another aspect of the present invention, the thermal management device is a cloud device deployable in a cloud computing environment. For example, the thermal management device is deployable in an industrial environment where it communicates with one or more electronic devices via cloud. As used herein, "cloud computing environment" refers to a

processing environment comprising configurable computing physical and logical resources, for example, servers, storage, applications, services, etc., and data distributed over the network. The cloud computing environment provides on-demand network access to a shared pool of the configurable computing physical and logical resources.

The modules of the thermal management device comprise a thermal data management module, a thermal profile generation module, a thermal data analysis module, and a thermal condition module.

The thermal management device also comprises a thermal

management database and a graphical user interface (GUI) . The modules are according to one aspect of the present invention are downloadable and usable on a user device, that is, the thermal management device, or, are configured as a web-based platform, for example, a website hosted on a server or a network of servers, or, are implemented in the cloud computing environment as a cloud computing-based platform implemented as a service for managing thermal data. The modules are developed, for example, using Google App engine cloud infrastructure of Google Inc., Amazon Web Services® of Amazon Technologies, Inc., the Amazon elastic compute cloud EC2® web service of Amazon Technologies, Inc., the Google® Cloud platform of Google Inc., the Microsoft® Cloud platform of Microsoft Corporation, etc.

The thermal data management module obtains thermal data

associated with the electronic device communicatively couplable with the thermal management device, wherein the electronic device comprises at least one thermal sensing unit, and wherein the thermal sensing unit is adaptable to sense the thermal data associated with the electronic device. The thermal data

management module activates the thermal sensing unit in the electronic device for selectively obtaining the thermal data.

According to one aspect of the present invention, the thermal data management module via the GUI, receives user preferences for example, from an operator of the thermal management device. The user preferences include, but are not limited to, a desired electronic device for which thermal data is to be obtained, a desired resolution of thermal data acquisition, a desired frequency of thermal data acquisition, a desired integrated circuitry of the electronic device for thermal data acquisition, etc. The thermal data management module based on the user preferences received, activates operational states of the electronic devices for sensing the thermal data. The operational states involve activating a sense state, an open state, and/or a close state, for controlling a resolution, a frequency, an area, etc., of the thermal sensing unit, for selective sensing of the thermal data.

According to another aspect of the present invention, the thermal data management module stores the user preferences and periodically activates the thermal sensing units within the electronic devices for obtaining the thermal data.

According to yet another aspect of the present invention, the thermal data management module selectively activates the thermal sensing units based on ambient conditions, for example, ambient temperature, ambient dust, etc.

According to yet another aspect of the present invention, the thermal data management module selectively activates the thermal sensing units based on a usage of the electronic device

including usage for a particular application, a life of the electronic device, etc.

The thermal profile generation module generates a thermal profile based on the thermal data obtained by the thermal data management module. As used herein, "thermal profile" refers to a temperature contour of the electronic device, that is, the electronic device being monitored for thermal data management.

According to one aspect of the present invention, the thermal profile comprises at least one of a temporal profile and a spatial profile of the thermal data associated with the

electronic device. As used herein, "temporal profile" refers to temperature contours recorded over a period of time for a particular integrated circuitry and/or a particular electronic device. As used herein "spatial profile" refers to temperature contours recorded over an area of interest of the integrated circuitry and/or the electronic device.

According to another aspect of the present invention, the thermal profile comprises an aggregated profile of the thermal data associated with an integrated circuitry of one or more electronic devices. As used herein, "aggregated profile" refers to temperature contours recorded for a particular integrated circuitry across electronic devices and/or a particular type of electronic device, for example, all programmable logic

controllers (PLCs) deployed in an industrial setup.

The thermal profile generation module stores the thermal profiles generated in the thermal management database for future references .

The thermal data analysis module determines an abnormal thermal condition associated with the electronic device based on the thermal profile. As used herein, "abnormal thermal condition" refers to a deviation in the thermal profile generated with respect to a reference thermal profile associated therewith. The deviation may be with respect to density of temperature contours and/or a rate of change of the temperature contours with respect to the reference thermal profile. The thermal data analysis module obtains the reference thermal profile stored in the thermal management database based on the thermal profile generated. According to one aspect of the present invention, the thermal data analysis module in communication with the thermal profile generation module, constructs a reference thermal profile by combining the available reference thermal profiles for a user preference received for the first instant and not having an associated reference thermal profile stored in the thermal management database. For example, if the user preference is to have a temporal thermal profile generated for a particular integrated circuitry over a period of two months, then the thermal data management module and the thermal profile generation module construct a reference temporal profile either by using thermal data stored for the integrated circuitry of interest for a period of two months when the electronic device was functioning as expected, or by extrapolating the thermal data available when the electronic device was functioning as expected.

The thermal data analysis module obtains a reference thermal profile associated with one or more electronic devices and compares the thermal profile and the reference thermal profile. Based on the comparison, the thermal data analysis module determines the abnormal thermal condition using a pre-defined deviation threshold of each of the electronic devices. That is, the deviation observed is compared with the pre-defined

deviation threshold to check whether it is in an acceptable limit or not. If yes, the deviation is not treated as abnormal thermal condition. If not, the deviation is treated as an abnormal thermal condition and recorded in the thermal

management database.

According to one aspect of the present invention, the thermal data analysis module analyses the abnormal thermal condition based on one or more performance parameters. The performance parameters comprise, for example, the pre-defined deviation threshold of each of the electronic devices, a rate of

occurrence of a deviation in the thermal profile, and one or more properties of an integrated circuitry of each of the electronic devices with which the abnormal thermal condition is associated. For example, the deviation observed is beyond the pre-defined deviation threshold, the deviation is increasing at a rate beyond acceptable rate, and/or the deviation is for an integrated circuitry crucial for operation of the electronic device. The thermal data analysis module determines a risk index based on the analysis of the abnormal thermal condition. The risk index comprises a high risk, a medium risk, and a low risk. According to one aspect of the present invention, a confirmation from the user is sought on the risk index determined. The determined risk index is stored in the thermal data management module .

The thermal conditioning module determines a preventive action to be performed on at least one electronic device, such that the abnormal thermal condition is addressed, and initiates the preventive action at the at least one electronic device. The preventive action comprises, but is not limited to, invoking a cleaning routine of the electronic device, replacing an

integrated circuitry of the electronic device, generating an alarm or a notification on the GUI of the thermal management device and/or a GUI, if existing, on the electronic device regarding abnormal thermal condition, generating an indication associated with health of the electronic device over a period of time on the GUI of the thermal management device, etc. According to one aspect of the present invention, the thermal conditioning module determines the preventive action based on a user input received for corresponding abnormal thermal condition. According to another aspect of the present invention, the thermal

conditioning module determines the preventive action based on historical data stored in the thermal management database. The thermal management database stores the thermal data, the

abnormal thermal condition, the risk index, and a preventive action to be taken for the same in form of a look-up table such as shown in table below.

Also disclosed herein is a method for managing thermal data associated with one or more aforementioned electronic devices. The method employs aforementioned thermal management device communicatively couplable with the electronic devices. The method obtains thermal data associated with an electronic device, generates a thermal profile based on the thermal data, and determines an abnormal thermal condition associated with the electronic device based on the thermal profile. The method obtains the thermal data by selectively activating a thermal sensing unit in the electronic device for sensing the thermal data. The method generates the thermal profiles based on user input and/or preset user preferences, for example, temporal profiles, spatial profiles, aggregated profiles, etc. The method determines the abnormal thermal condition by obtaining a reference thermal profile associated with one or more electronic devices, for example, from the thermal management database, comparing the thermal profile and the reference thermal profile, and determining the abnormal thermal condition based on the comparison of the thermal profile and the reference thermal profile using a pre-defined deviation threshold of each of the electronic devices.

According to another aspect of the present invention, the method analyses the abnormal thermal condition based on one or more performance parameters, comprising, for example, a pre-defined deviation threshold of each of the electronic devices, a rate of occurrence of a deviation in the thermal profile, one or more properties of an integrated circuitry of each of the electronic devices with which the abnormal thermal condition is associated, etc., and determining a risk index based on the analysis of the abnormal thermal condition.

According to yet another aspect of the present invention, the method determines a preventive action to be performed on at least one electronic device, such that the abnormal thermal condition is addressed, and initiates the preventive action at the at least one electronic device.

According to yet another aspect of the present invention, the method comprises storing each thermal profile generated along with the abnormal thermal condition determined in the thermal management database. Typically, electronic hardware designers, design integrated circuitry referring to the specified behaviour of the components involved by referring to their data sheets. Once a design is complete and placement of the component is complete, the designers need to study, simulate and analyse the behaviour of the built device. There are chances of the design failing due to various factors like influence of neighbouring components as a result of heat dissipation, operating

frequencies, electromagnetic radiation, etc. These behaviours can be anticipated to some degree but are not full proof as a behaviour may appear when the built device is being used in the field. Thus, storing the data pertaining to abnormal thermal conditions and the thermal profiles helps the designers, to understand the behaviour of the associated integrated circuitry under the prevailing conditions and to modify the subsequent versions of their desings.

The thermal management device, system, method, and electronic device disclosed herein provide for a quality oriented proactive management of thermal data of each critical control device in an industry while enabling building of knowledgebase of field data over time for improved and enhanced future actions associated with thermal data management. Moreover, there is no dependence on manufacturer provided reliable thermal profiles as behaviour of the various electronic devices and their integrated circuitry working together is predicted and constructed by selectively capturing the thermal data associated therewith. Furthermore, the processing load of the thermal management device is

optimized by detection of abnormalities and determination of corresponding preventive actions based on severity of the underlying problem.

The above-mentioned and other features of the invention will now be addressed with reference to the accompanying drawings of the present invention. The illustrated embodiments are intended to illustrate, but not limit the invention.

The present invention is further described hereinafter with reference to illustrated embodiments shown in the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG 1 illustrates a thermal management system comprising a thermal management device communicatively coupled with electronic devices via a communication network, for managing thermal data associated with electronic devices .

FIGS 2A-2B illustrate an electronic device having a thermal sensing unit integrated therein.

FIGS 2C illustrates an enlarged view of a portion of the thermal sensing unit, marked "A" in FIG 2B showing thermal sensors for sensing thermal data.

FIGS 2D-2E illustrate thermal profiles of the electronic device illustrated in FIGS 2A-2B.

FIG 3 is a block diagram illustrating architecture of a computer system employed by the thermal management device illustrated in FIG 1, for managing thermal data associated with electronic devices.

FIG 4 illustrates a process flowchart of an exemplary

method for managing thermal data associated with one or more electronic devices.

Various embodiments are described with reference to the

drawings, wherein like reference numerals are used to refer to like elements throughout. In the following description, for the purpose of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide thorough understanding of one or more embodiments. It may be evident that such embodiments may be practiced without these specific details.

FIG 1 illustrates a thermal management system 100 comprising a thermal management device 102 communicatively coupled with electronic devices 101A-101N via a wired or a wireless

communication network 103 such as a cloud, for managing thermal data associated with electronic devices 101A-101N. The

electronic devices 101A-101N are installed in a technical installation 101, for example, remote field sensors installed in an industrial environment. These electronic devices 101A-101N have connections there-between or are individual entities without any connections there-between. Each of the electronic devices 101A-101N have an integrated circuitry and a thermal sensing unit IOΐAc-IOΐNi adaptable to sense thermal data

associated with respective electronic device 101A-101N. The electronic devices 101A-101N also have a communication interface (not shown) transmitting and receiving data between the thermal sensing unit IOΐAc-IOΐNi and the thermal management device 102.

The thermal management device 102 comprises a non-transitory computer readable storage medium configured to store one or more modules comprising computer program instructions and at least one processor communicatively coupled to the non-transitory computer readable storage medium. The at least one processor executes the computer program instructions. The modules comprise a thermal data management module 102A, a thermal profile generation module 102B, a thermal data analysis module 102C, and a thermal conditioning module 102D. The thermal management device 102 also has a thermal management database 102E and a graphical user interface (GUI) 102F. The thermal data management module 102A obtains thermal data associated with the electronic devices 101A-101N communicatively couplable with the thermal management device 102. The thermal data management module 102A activates the thermal sensing unit IOIA-IOIN in the electronic device 101A-101N for selectively obtaining the thermal data. The thermal profile generation module 102B generates a thermal profile 203 based on the thermal data. The thermal data analysis module 102C determines an abnormal thermal condition associated with the electronic device 101A-101N based on the thermal profile. The thermal data analysis module 102C obtains a reference thermal profile associated with one or more of the electronic devices 101A-101N from the thermal management database 102E, compares the thermal profile with the reference thermal profile, and determines the abnormal thermal condition based on the comparison using a pre-defined deviation threshold for each electronic device 101A-101N. The thermal data analysis module 102C analyses the abnormal thermal condition based on one or more performance parameters and determines a risk index based on the analysis of the abnormal thermal condition. The

performance parameters comprise a pre-defined deviation

threshold of each of the electronic devices 101A-101N, a rate of occurrence of a deviation in the thermal profile, and the integrated circuitry of each of the electronic devices 101A-101N with which the abnormal thermal condition is associated. The thermal conditioning module 102D determines a preventive action to be performed on at least one electronic device 101A-101N, such that the abnormal thermal condition is addressed and initiates the preventive action at the at least one electronic device 101A-101N.

FIGS 2A-2B illustrate an electronic device 101A having a thermal sensing unit IOΐAc integrated therein. FIG 2A shows the

electronic device 101A having integrated circuitry 201A-201C.

The integrated circuitry 201A-201C represents active and/or passive components such as chips, processors, controllers, transistors, resistors, capacitors, transformers, heat sinks, etc. embedded into the electronic device 101A. FIG 2B

illustrates a multi-layer printed circuit board (PCB) having layers 10lAi-10lAn on which the integrated circuitry 201A-201C of the electronic device 101A is embedded. The thermal sensing unit IOΐAc is configured as one of the layers 10ΐAc-10ΐAh of the multi layer PCB. The thermal sensing unit IOΐAc is adaptable to sense thermal data associated with the electronic device 101A via instructions initiated from the thermal data management module 102A of the thermal management device 102.

FIGS 2C illustrates an enlarged view of a portion of the thermal sensing unit IOΐAc, marked "X" in FIG 2B showing thermal sensors 202A, 202B, 202C, and 202D for sensing thermal data. The thermal sensors 202A, 202B, 202C, and 202D are positioned in a grid shape across the thermal sensing unit IOΐAc to ensure

comprehensive sensing of the thermal data. The thermal sensors, for example, 202A and 202C, lying along breadth of the sensing unit IOΐAc are connected to a vertical multiplexing unit (not shown) . Similarly, the thermal sensors, for example, 202B and 202D, lying along length of the sensing unit IOΐAc are connected to a horizontal multiplexing unit (not shown) . The multiplexing facilitates a single point of transfer of thermal data from the electronic device 101A to the thermal management device 102 shown in FIG 1.

FIGS 2D-2E illustrate thermal profiles 203 of the electronic device 101A illustrated in FIGS 2A-2B. FIG 2D illustrates a thermal profile 203 generated at an operational time instant Tl of the electronic device 101A. This thermal profile 203 matches a reference thermal profile of the electronic device 101A. FIG 2E illustrates the thermal profile 203 generated at an

operational time instant T2 of the electronic device 101A, which when compared to the reference thermal profile, that is, the thermal profile 203 shown in FIG 2D, is deviant in an area 203B of the thermal profile 203 as compared with an area 203A shown in FIG 2D. This deviation being higher than a pre-defined deviation threshold of the electronic device 101A, is considered by the thermal management device 102 to be an abnormal thermal condition 203B. Based on the criticality of the integrated circuitry 201A shown in FIG 2A, a risk index of high, medium, or low is assigned to the abnormal thermal condition by the thermal management device 102 and an appropriate preventive action is initiated at the electronic device 101A to prevent damage due to the abnormal thermal condition 203B.

FIG 3 is a block diagram illustrating architecture of a computer system 300 employed by the thermal management device 102 illustrated in FIG 1, for managing thermal data associated with electronic devices 101A-101N. The thermal management device 102 employs the architecture of the computer system 300. The computer system 300 is programmable using a high level computer programming language. The computer system 300 may be implemented using programmed and purposeful hardware. As illustrated in FIG 3, the computer system 300 comprises a processor 301, a non-transitory computer readable storage medium such as a memory unit 302 for storing programs and data, an input/output (I/O) controller 303, a network interface 304, a data bus 305, a display unit 306, input devices 307, a fixed media drive 308 such as a hard drive, a removable media drive 309 for receiving removable media, output devices 310, etc. The processor 301 refers to any one of microprocessors, central processing unit (CPU) devices, finite state machines, microcontrollers, digital signal processors, an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC), a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) , etc., or any combination thereof, capable of executing computer programs or a series of commands, instructions, or state transitions. The processor 301 may also be implemented as a processor set comprising, for example, a general purpose microprocessor and a math or graphics co-processor. The processor 301 is selected, for example, from the Intel® processors, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD®) processors, International Business Machines (IBM®) processors, etc. The thermal management device 102 disclosed herein is not limited to a computer system 300 employing a processor 301. The computer system 300 may also employ a controller or a microcontroller. The processor 301 executes the modules, for example, 202A, 202B, and 202C of the thermal management device 102.

The memory unit 302 is used for storing programs, applications, and data. For example, the data communication module 202A, the data processing module 202B, and the data learning module 202C of the thermal management device 102 are stored in the memory unit 302 of the computer system 300. The memory unit 302 is, for example, a random access memory (RAM) or another type of dynamic storage device that stores information and instructions for execution by the processor 301. The memory unit 302 also stores temporary variables and other intermediate information used during execution of the instructions by the processor 301. The computer system 300 further comprises a read only memory (ROM) or another type of static storage device that stores static information and instructions for the processor 301. The I/O controller 303 controls input actions and output actions performed by the thermal management device 102.

The network interface 304 enables connection of the computer system 300 to the communication network 103. For example, the thermal management device 102 connects to the communication network 103 via the network interface 304. In an embodiment, the network interface 304 is provided as an interface card also referred to as a line card. The network interface 304 comprises, for example, interfaces using serial protocols, interfaces using parallel protocols, and Ethernet communication interfaces, interfaces based on wireless communications technology such as satellite technology, radio frequency (RF) technology, near field communication, etc. The data bus 305 permits

communications between the modules, for example, 102A, 102B, 102C, and 102D of thermal management device 102.

The display unit 306, via a graphical user interface (GUI) 102F of the thermal management device 102, displays information such as a the thermal data sensed by the thermal sensing units IOΐAc-lOlNi of the electronic devices 101A-101N, resolution with which the thermal data is sensed, details of the electronic devices 101A-101N for which the thermal data is sensed, thermal profiles 203 generated for the electronic devices 101A-101N, abnormal thermal conditions 203B, if any, etc., via user interface elements such as text fields, buttons, windows, etc. The display unit 306 comprises, for example, a liquid crystal display, a plasma display, an organic light emitting diode (OLED) based display, etc. The input devices 307 are used for inputting data into the computer system 300. The input devices 307 are, for example, a keyboard such as an alphanumeric keyboard, a touch sensitive display device, and/or any device capable of sensing a tactile input that could be used by the staff responsible for installing, commissioning, and/or maintenance of the electronic devices 101A-101N.

Computer applications and programs are used for operating the computer system 300. The programs are loaded onto the fixed media drive 308 and into the memory unit 302 of the computer system 300 via the removable media drive 309. In an embodiment, the computer applications and programs may be loaded directly via the communication network 103. Computer applications and programs are executed by double clicking a related icon

displayed on the display unit 306 using one of the input devices 307. The output devices 310 output the results of operations performed by the thermal management device 102. For example, the thermal management device 102 provides graphical representation of a risk index and/or a preventive action determined at one or more electronic devices 101A-101N, using the output devices 310. In another example, the thermal management device 102 may provide an alarm indication and/or a notification based on abnormal thermal condition 203B determined at one or more of the electronic devices 101A-101N, using the output devices 310.

The processor 301 executes an operating system, for example, the Linux® operating system, the Unix® operating system, any version of the Microsoft® Windows® operating system, the Mac OS of Apple Inc., the IBM® OS/2, etc. The computer system 300 employs the operating system for performing multiple tasks. The operating system is responsible for management and coordination of activities and sharing of resources of the computer system 300. The operating system further manages security of the computer system 300, peripheral devices connected to the computer system 300, and network connections. The operating system employed on the computer system 300 recognizes, for example, inputs provided by the users using one of the input devices 307, the output display, files, and directories stored locally on the fixed media drive 308. The operating system on the computer system 300 executes different programs using the processor 301. The processor 301 and the operating system together define a computer platform for which application programs in high level programming languages are written.

The processor 301 of the computer system 300 employed by the thermal management device 102 retrieves instructions defined by the thermal data management module 102A, the thermal profile generation module 102B, the thermal data analysis module 102C, the thermal conditioning module 102D, etc., of the thermal management device 102 for performing respective functions disclosed in the detailed description of FIG 1. The processor 301 retrieves instructions for executing the modules, for example, 102A, 102B, 102C, 102D, etc., of the thermal management device 102 from the memory unit 302. A program counter

determines the location of the instructions in the memory unit 302. The program counter stores a number that identifies the current position in the program of each of the modules, for example, 102A, 102B, 102C, 102D, etc., of the thermal management device 102. The instructions fetched by the processor 301 from the memory unit 302 after being processed are decoded. The instructions are stored in an instruction register in the processor 301. After processing and decoding, the processor 301 executes the instructions, thereby performing one or more processes defined by those instructions.

At the time of execution, the instructions stored in the instruction register are examined to determine the operations to be performed. The processor 301 then performs the specified operations. The operations comprise arithmetic operations and logic operations. The operating system performs multiple

routines for performing a number of tasks required to assign the input devices 307, the output devices 310, and memory for execution of the modules, for example, 102A, 102B, 102C, 102D, etc., of the thermal management device 102. The tasks performed by the operating system comprise, for example, assigning memory to the modules, for example, 102A, 102B, 102C, 102D, etc., of the thermal management device 102, and to data used by the thermal management device 102, moving data between the memory unit 302 and disk units, and handling input/output operations. The operating system performs the tasks on request by the operations and after performing the tasks, the operating system transfers the execution control back to the processor 301. The processor 301 continues the execution to obtain one or more outputs. The outputs of the execution of the modules, for example, 102A, 102B, 102C, 102D, etc., of the thermal management device 102 are displayed to the user on the GUI 102F.

For purposes of illustration, the detailed description refers to the thermal management device 102 being run locally on the computer system 300; however the scope of the present invention is not limited to the thermal management device 102 being run locally on the computer system 300 via the operating system and the processor 301, but may be extended to run remotely over the communication network 103 by employing a web browser and a remote server, a handheld device, or other electronic devices. One or more portions of the computer system 300 may be

distributed across one or more computer systems (not shown) coupled to the communication network 103.

Disclosed herein is also a computer program product comprising a non-transitory computer readable storage medium that stores one or more computer program codes comprising instructions

executable by at least one processor 301 for managing thermal data associated with one or more electronic devices 101A-101N, as disclosed in the present invention. The computer program product comprises computer program codes for performing

respective functions of the modules 102A, 102B, 102C, 102D, etc., as disclosed in the detailed description of FIG 1. The computer program codes comprising computer executable

instructions are embodied on the non-transitory computer readable storage medium. The processor 301 of the computer system 300 retrieves these computer executable instructions and executes them. When the computer executable instructions are executed by the processor 301, the computer executable

instructions cause the processor 301 to perform the functions of the modules 102A, 102B, 102C, 102D, etc., as disclosed in the detailed description of FIG 1.

FIG 4 illustrates a process flowchart 400 of an exemplary method for managing thermal data associated with one or more electronic devices 101A-101N. At step 401, the method obtains thermal data associated with one or more of the electronic devices 101A-101N shown in FIG 1. To obtain the thermal data, the method at step 401A, receives one or more user preferences, for example, from an operator of the thermal management device 102. The user preferences include, a desired resolution of thermal data acquisition, a desired frequency of thermal data acquisition, a desired electronic device 101A-101N for thermal data

acquisition, a desired integrated circuitry 201A, 201B, 201C, etc., of a desired electronic device 101A-101N for thermal data acquisition, etc. Further at step 401B, based on the user preferences received, the method activates operational states of the electronic devices 101A-101N for sensing the thermal data. The operational states involve activating a measurement state and/or controlling a resolution, a frequency, an area, etc., for selective sensing of the thermal data. At step 401C, the method receives the thermal data sensed by the thermal sensing units IOIA-IOIN of the electronic devices 101A-101N and stores the thermal data in the thermal management database 102E shown in FIG 1.

At step 402, the method generates a thermal profile 203 based on the thermal data obtained. At step 402A, the method receives a user preference regarding the thermal profile 203 to be

generated. The user preference includes, a temporal thermal profile having temperature contours of an electronic device 101A-101N generated over a period of time, a spatial thermal profile having temperature contours of an electronic device 101A-101N generated across a desired surface area of the electronic device 101A-101N, a combination of temporal and spatial thermal profile, or an aggregated thermal profile having thermal data recorded for a particular integrated circuitry 201A, 201B, 201C, etc., of multiple electronic devices 101A-101N. At step 402B, the method, based on the user preferences, retrieves the thermal data from the thermal management database 102E and plots a thermal profile 203.

At step 403, the method determines an abnormal thermal condition 203B associated with the electronic device 101A-101N based on the thermal profile 203. At step 403A, the method retrieves from the thermal management database 102E, reference thermal profiles for the electronic devices 101A-101N for which the thermal profiles 203 have been generated. At step 403B, the method compares the thermal profiles 203 with the reference thermal profiles and determines abnormal thermal conditions 203B existing if any, by comparing deviations found with pre-defined deviation thresholds of the electronic devices 101A-101N. At step 403C, the method analyses the abnormal thermal conditions 203B based on one or more performance parameters comprising, for example, a pre-defined deviation threshold of each of the electronic devices 101A-101N, a rate of occurrence of a

deviation in the thermal profile 203, and an integrated

circuitry 201A, 201B, or 201C of each of the electronic devices 101A-101N with which the abnormal thermal condition 203B is associated, that is, an inherent criticality of the integrated circuitry 201A, 201B, 201C, etc. At step 403D, the method determines a risk index based on the analysis of the abnormal thermal condition. For example, if the abnormal thermal

condition 203B is associated with a critical component 201A, 201B, or 201C of the electronic device 101A-101N then the risk index is determined to be high.

At step 404, the method determines a preventive action to be performed on at least one of the electronic devices 101A-101N so as to address the abnormal thermal condition, that is, to restrict the abnormal condition 203B from further escalation and converting the abnormal thermal condition 203B to a normal thermal condition which is same as the reference thermal profile. The method determines the preventive action based on historical data stored in the thermal management database 102E corresponding to the risk index. At step 405, the method initiates a preventive action at the electronic device 101A-101N. The preventive action may include invoking a cleaning routine, replacing the integrated circuitry 201A, 201B, 201C, etc., generating a notification, etc.

Where databases are described such as the thermal management database 102E, it will be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art that (i) alternative database structures to those described may be readily employed, and (ii) other memory structures besides databases may be readily employed. Any illustrations or descriptions of any sample databases disclosed herein are illustrative arrangements for stored representations of information. Any number of other arrangements may be employed besides those suggested by tables illustrated in the drawings or elsewhere. Similarly, any illustrated entries of the databases represent exemplary information only; one of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the number and content of the entries can be different from those disclosed herein. Further, despite any depiction of the databases as tables, other formats including relational databases, object-based models, and/or distributed databases may be used to store and manipulate the data types disclosed herein. Likewise, object methods or behaviours of a database can be used to implement various processes such as those disclosed herein. In addition, the databases may, in a known manner, be stored locally or remotely from a device that accesses data in such a database. In

embodiments where there are multiple databases in the system, the databases may be integrated to communicate with each other for enabling simultaneous updates of data linked across the databases, when there are any updates to the data in one of the databases .

The foregoing examples have been provided merely for the purpose of explanation and are in no way to be construed as limiting of the present invention disclosed herein. While the invention has been described with reference to various embodiments, it is understood that the words, which have been used herein, are words of description and illustration, rather than words of limitation. Further, although the invention has been described herein with reference to particular means, materials, and embodiments, the invention is not intended to be limited to the particulars disclosed herein; rather, the invention extends to all functionally equivalent structures, methods and uses, such as are within the scope of the appended claims. Those skilled in the art, having the benefit of the teachings of this

specification, may affect numerous modifications thereto and changes may be made without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention in its aspects.

Reference numerals

100 thermal management system

101 technical installation

101A-101N electronic devices

101A1-101N1 thermal sensing unit

lOlAl-lOlAn layers of a multi-layer PCB of the electronic device

102 thermal management device

102A thermal data management module

102B thermal profile generation module

102C thermal data analysis module

102D thermal conditioning module

102E thermal management database

102F graphical user interface (GUI)

103 communication network

201A-201C integrated circuitry/components of electronic device

202A-202D thermal sensors

203 thermal profile

203A area of thermal profile

203B abnormal thermal condition/deviation

300 computer system

301 processor

302 memory unit

303 I/O controller

304 network interface

data bus

display unit

input devices fixed media drive removable media drive output devices