Below is a selection of case studies for the diverse applications we excel at automating. We hope that what you find will be relevant to the projects you have on the horizon in your particular area of expertise.
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21 CFR 11 Compliant Environmental Monitoring and Reporting System
Project Abstract: One of Data Science Automation’s (DSA) customers needed an application that allowed their existing customers to upgrade to a 21 CFR 11 compliant laboratory monitoring and control system. The application had to integrate seamlessly with their existing hardware, provide a customizable user interface while being fault tolerant.
Project Description: DSA developed an application based on a robust architecture that harnessed the power and flexibility of LabVIEW for Windows, LabVIEW Real-Time, NI-FieldPoint, and NI-VISA. The scalable application can be easily customized by the end-user to reflect their physical and organizational structure and uses cFP-20XX’s to provide fault tolerance at multiple levels.
3-D Printing with an Electrifying Difference
Project Abstract: Develop a LabVIEW based 3D Printer that will be used to validate the theory that aligning the particles of print media material yields stronger finished printed products.
Project Description: DSA was selected to create a new software application to control a 4-axis motion system that had to be resurrected from being mothballed. We were selected due to our experience with various thirdparty motion systems along with utilizing NI motion hardware and software to integrate the system into a cohesive package.
3D-Scans of Railroad Wheel Flaws Exploit New LabVIEW Features
Project Abstract: C-Scans have been the standard method of displaying the results of Non-Destructive Tests (NDT) for years. C-Scans can reveal small flaws hidden deep in material. They present a challenge when attempting to use the C-Scans to correlate the flaw to the physical location in the Device Under Test (DUT).
Project Description: A new display called a “3D-Scan” was developed utilizing many of the new features of LabVIEW to superimpose the C-Scan information on a SolidWorks model of the railroad wheel. The 3D-Scan positions the flaw information acquired from multiple probes onto a single 3D image that can be easily understood even by persons not experienced in reading C-Scans.
3D Visualization of Defects in Railroad Wheels
Project Abstract: Enhance an industry standard non-destructive test that inspects railroad wheels as they exit the production line to visually illustrate the location and nature of any detected defects. A control application was developed in LabVIEW that utilized the NI OPC server to monitor and control the production line. Ultrasonic inspection permitted locating the defects and the new 3D graph facilitated imaging the results.
Project Description: CScan and BScan displays are an industry standard for non-destructive ultrasonic testing. The test involves scanning the surface of the wheel with ultrasonics and reading the reflected signal to characterize the health of the unit. Due to the 2D nature in which the current system displays data to the user, interpreting the scans require specialized training. Data Science Automation combined the magnitude and the time-of-flight (TOF) information from multiple scans and rendered images of the defects in a manner similar to what would be possible if the wheels were transparent and we could “look into” the wheel.
3D Visualization of Defects From Ultrasonic Pipe Testing
Project Abstract: A major multinational manufacturer of seamless steel pipe needed help enhancing their basic LabVIEW data acquisition application. In order to be of maximum benefit the application needed to interface to the steel mills Manufacturing Execution System (MES). Detailed wall thickness data from their ultrasonic test system needed to acquire 2048 data points over each inch of pipe over the entire forty five foot length and be available in a convenient form to all personnel throughout the plant immediately upon being acquired.
Project Description: Data Science Automation (DSA) was chosen to implement the requirements of this integrated system. Round-table discussions were held that included production engineers, instrumentation engineers, quality control (QC) engineers, plant operations personnel and information systems (IS) personnel.
500 KVA Variable Frequency Motor Test System
Project Abstract: Utilize an FPGA to control insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBT) to generate three-phase power for testing various types of motors. In addition the system must perform electrical power measurements replacing typical power monitor instruments that cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Project Description: Data Science Automation leveraged the high-speed of the FPGA and the dual-core processing power of the NI CompactRIO 9082 platform to create a monitoring and control system that converts DC power to kVA AC power over a range of frequencies.
A High-Volume Production Test System for LED Automotive Lighting
Project Abstract: A leading manufacturer of automotive lighting products needed to launch a new product line of LED headlamps and turn signal lamps, but did not have the proper test capacity or test equipment to ramp up production to match the anticipated customer orders. Missed production dates and backorders were imminent if product testing was not overhauled soon.
Project Description: Combine LabVIEW, NI CompactDAQ Ethernet-enabled hardware, custom electronics and test fixturing to create a robust, efficient, and automated system capable of testing batches of 46 driver units simultaneously.
A LabVIEW-based Test and LIMS Database System
Project Abstract: Replace a series of disconnected legacy systems and laboratory test utilities with a single, integrated LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) for tracking anode test specimens throughout their lifetime at a large test/R&D facility.
Project Description: LabVIEW was paired with Microsoft SQL Server and existing customer multimeters/data collection hardware to create a facility-wide test data management system usable across multiple test labs and accessible from anywhere in the company.
A Monitoring System for the Advancement of Green Chlorine
Project Abstract: The customer needed a reliable and robust real-time system to monitor and control twenty-eight (28) chlorine chemical cells. The system would provide twenty-four (24) hour automated data logging, system control and instantaneous operator feedback and remote alarming to prevent any hazardous situation within the laboratory environment.
Project Description:A leading chlorine supply company had a need for monitoring and controlling electro-chemical cells. The system provides twenty-four hour automated data logging, system control and instantaneous operator feedback to prevent any hazardous situation within the laboratory environment while allowing research and development for higher efficiency chlorine production. To accommodate the requirements for this application Data Science Automation utilized one cRIO Real-Time Control with an additional cRIO deterministic Ethernet chassis along with NI real-time operating system using the NI Scan-Engine to monitor and control multiple cRIO modules while utilizing LabVIEW 2009 as a graphical representation of the real-time application.
A Non-Invasive Throughput Monitor for Molten Metal Processing
Project Abstract:Accurately measure the mass throughput of molten metal entering a crucible over a 24-hr period to determine the efficiency of the crucible. A LabVIEW and CompactDAQ-based measurement system that uses a laser sensor and filtering/mass calculation methods to measure efficiency.
Project Description:A manufacturer of crucibles for metal casting operations needed an application that measures the changing level of molten metal in their crucible product as it changes during casting of molded metal parts (usually aluminum). This, in turn, can be recorded as a "daily throughput" and used as part of an efficiency calculation to show their customers how much they save by using their products. The software would serve as a sales, marketing, and research tool.
A Physical Instrument from Virtual Instruments and sbRIO
Project Abstract: The customer (an industry leading manufacturer of TGAs) wanted to decrease the time to market for new models. Initial experiments using NI sbRIO showed that the FPGA approach was a promising approach. While promising, it was observed that the work required to integrate the sbRIO with the existing software analysis package was not trivial. DSA was engaged to ensure the Proof-of-Concept was successful due to “the exceptional talents and professionalism of the DSA staff” (Project Manager, Testimonial Letter). This paper discusses the project, its challenges and how the sbRIO LabVIEW solution accomplished the “impossible” (Lead developer of traditional TGA).
Project Description: Demonstrate that an NI-sbRIO and LabVIEW is capable of replacing all control hardware and proprietary C# code found in a commercially available Thermogravimetric Analyzer (TGA) and show that it can be accomplished at a fraction of the time and cost.
A Resistance Profile Characterization System for Electronic Spring Probes
Project Abstract:Develop a resistance characterization tester for contact spring probes that would provide R&D engineers the ability to characterize the resistance of the spring loaded electrical probe along its full linear motion and also be able to be used for production testing.
Project Description:Automated test systems require multi-cycle connectivity to allow Units Under Test (UUTs), fixtures and receivers to be connected and disconnected reliably. This generally involves spring probes in the fixtures. At different positions along their lengths, the resistance of spring probes may vary. The consistency with which they vary directly impacts the consistency of the signal measurements being made. A system was developed in order to accurately characterize the resistance variation of the spring probes in order to provide more consistent measurements in the automated test equipment.
A Single Platform for Respirator Testing Standards
Project Abstract:All Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) – commonly referred to as respirators - manufactured in the United States must adhere to standard testing procedures set forth by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Respirators must be tested on human subjects wearing the masks while performing a set of physical exercises. Benign “challenge agents” are introduced into the testing area and air is sampled from inside the masks to test for leakage. The standards describe, in detail, the required test procedures, equipment calibration, and pass/fail criteria.
Project Description: Create a LabVIEW application with a modular architecture that can be adapted to different measurement equipment and display formats depending on the challenge agent, and generate test reports using a unified format.
A Test Driven Development Approach to Medical Device Development
Project Abstract: In the medical device industry, the development of both hardware and software are highly regulated in order to deliver safe products to the end users. This means tracking of all automated testing of code and the ability to easily regression test code is an absolute requirement. The product we were developing needed to adhere to ISO 13485 and similar standards.
Project Description: By combining the flexibility and test reporting capability of TestStand with the modular design and adaptive function of our Object Oriented LabVIEW code, Data Science Automation performed both Unit Tests and System Integration Tests in an automated and traceable manner by applying Test Driven Development.
Adaptable Industrial Double-Team OPC UA and EtherCAT
Project Abstract: Design a reusable/scalable/adaptable software architecture for a human-guiding hydraulic valve assembly stand utilizing a cRIO-9064 in conjunction with Beckhoff EtherCAT IO modules.
Project Description: Data Science Automation leveraged the LabVIEW OPC UA toolkit along with the NI RIO Scan Engine and EtherCAT Communication to provide hardware abstraction and make the input and output values of the system accessible to any desired client.
Adaptable Medical Device Test Platform
Project Abstract:Our customer opted to have one of our CLED/CLA LabVIEW developers produce a reusable and adaptable architecture for use on multiple systems with the same basic hardware layouts.
Project Description: Design an integrated test platform, adaptable for testing a wide variety of commercial products.
Adaptive Real-Time Profile Manager (ART-PM)
Project Abstract:The client needed a Real-Time system capable of automatically detecting C-Series hardware configurations and automatically adapting the Real-Time application. The software adaption needed to include code specifically designed to utilize all C-Series hardware and its ability to integrate with LabVIEW Real-Time using the NI Scan Engine FPGA Module.
Project Description: Using LabVIEW Real-Time & FPGA toolkits along with the NI Scan Engine FPGA Module, Data Science Automation was able to create a Real-Time software application that could adapt to multiple C-Series hardware configurations while simultaneously manipulating multiple operational modes by overwriting system profile files.
Air Handler Characterization Using AMCA Standard 210
Project Abstract:Characterize air handlers using Air Movement and Control Association (AMCA) Standard 210 in a form that allows in-house staff to maintain the application.
Project Description: The Library feature of LabVIEW was utilized to design and implement an application that closely mimicked the physical system. In-house staff took over code changes within days of delivering the application.
Automated Amplifier Circuit Board Test System
Project Abstract:Decrease the time required to perform complicated tests on circuit boards to keep up with high speed production demands. Improve the reliability of test data and reports, and reduce human errors. Automate the test procedure including fixture manipulation, data acquisition, and instrument configuration and control, as well as report generation of circuit board tests.
Project Description: A circuit board contract manufacturer specializing in bare-dye assembly and Chip-On-Board manufacturing has the need of automating the process of testing circuit boards. In order to comply with all their customer’s requirements the tests are long and complicated involving a large number of steps of data collection and interpretation, manipulation of the test fixtures, as well as configuration and control of stand-alone signal generator and signal analyzer instruments.
Automated Analysis of Plastic Inspection Data
Project Abstract:Develop an automated analysis application for a client to save time and effort in the analysis of data acquired by a LabVIEW application created to measure the amount and volume of contaminants or un-melted plastic pellets used to produce a plastic film. The data and results of the analysis are used for determining quality requirements and customer satisfaction. This application required that peaks of a minimum value or greater be identified and measured providing an indication of the amount of defects and the area size of the defects. To perform this task a baseline was created to establish a true height for each of the peaks. After the peaks were identified the area of each peak was determined and compared to the configuration parameters. The peaks that fall over the limits are sorted along with the area displacement and displayed on a histogram. The final values of each test are saved to Excel along with histograms for the heights and areas of abnormalities found on the film. The client also required that this application be in the form of an executable with an installer for other colleges to be able to review the results of the data. It was also requested that this be a VI that could be placed into the original application to automate the process when the test was run.
Project Description: The solution was implemented with LabVIEW 8.0. The application implemented a state machine architecture that monitored an input selecting the mode of operation. The application has two modes of operation. The first being sub VI mode and the second being manual mode. If the mode of operation is set to “True” the application will be set to the sub VI mode of operation. In the sub VI mode the application will read the configuration file and use all of the parameters defined there. This will load a set of parameters for filtering and smoothing the raw data sets and create a baseline for the application to perform the peak detection from. Once the peaks have been established the start and end of each peak are determined. The final step in the analysis of the peak is the area beneath the peak. After all the peaks and corresponding areas are calculated verification of height and area size are preformed and the resulting data is saved to an Excel file. The Path to write analyzed data is based on the name of the raw data file used. This path will consist of the raw data path without the channel name and time and date appended to it. If the mode of operation is set to “False” the application will operate as a stand alone application.
Automated Forklift Cylinder Tester
Project Abstract: The client needed to have an automated system to test up to eight hydraulic cylinders on a production line to assure the length of stroke and the jerk in different zones of the stroke. The tester also needed to record the results and store the test parameters.
Project Description: Using LabVIEW, Data Science Automation was able to create an application that allowed the user to select the type of cylinder by part number then the desired fields of interest to test. Once the criteria had been selected the operator could test up to eight different cylinders at a time./p>
Automated Hoist/Winch Test Station For Testing Hydraulic and Electric Hoists/Winches
Project Abstract:Develop a high quality, cost effective solution to operating and testing hydraulic and electric hoists/winches used on rescue helicopters. The client had some legacy C code that they wanted to reuse but the code utilized old and outdated data acquisition hardware from a vendor other than Nation Instruments. The solution was required to run in remote locations and would need to use flexible components that would allow for easy in the field upgrades.
Project Description: Flight time can become expensive when operationally testing a hoist on the aircraft. Testing of hoists prior to flight is cost effective and convenient, allowing the client to test the units quickly. To test a hydraulic or electric hoist/winch, the system must perform a series of tasks that involve communicating with the unit under test (UUT), a motor control unit, and an automated take-up drum that provides static and dynamic loads. Different units require different tasks and task sequences. Flexibility (external to the .EXE) in the task sequence and parameters was required to support the broad range of units the client maintained.
Automated Testing of Actuators for Medical Exam Tables
Project Abstract:Develop an application to monitor and control the testing of test linear actuators as they exit a production line. The application must be enforce safety requirements during all phases of operation, detect out-of spec conditions and perform graceful recovery.
Project Description:DSA created an adaptive solution that implemented all the client requirements while allowing the easy addition of future client devices to the test procedure.
Automated Verification of Focal Plane Arrays
Project Abstract:Automate a large number of independent code modules that were being run manually to conduct verification tests for Focal Plane Arrays (FPAs) and efficiently manage the acquired test data. Data Science Automation was designed and developed a flexible, scalable, maintainable architecture to automate the client’s existing test modules while allowing for future expansion to include new verification tests as well as new FPA types.
Project Description:A robust application was required to provide the ability to test multiple types of Focal Plane Arrays (FPAs), which are the sensing component in infrared cameras. LabVIEW was chosen to provide a flexible, maintainable, and scalable software application that incorporated various data analysis routines, presented the analysis results , and generated reports. The client needed to consolidate the piecemeal modules into a comprehensive unifying application that would satisfy all their testing needs for all their product types, for the present and the future.
Beer Bottle Thermal Drinking Simulator Upgrade
Project Abstract:Develop a more robust and capable LabVIEW software platform for characterizing the thermal insulation properties of bottle designs when drinking is simulated.
Project Description:CompactRIO FPGA hybrid mode was leveraged to provide deterministic data collection along with ease of integration with already existing serial hardware. The CompactRIO processor was utilized to perform time triggered hardware control based on test profiles provided by the operator..
Calibration and Test Platform for Flue Gas Analyzers
Project Abstract:A leading material development start-up company pioneered a new carburization process and required an automated control system for unmanned operation of their furnace. The control system was required to monitor the process variables, control furnace temperature, log process variables (PVs) at a user specified rate and both annunciate and record alarms with the time of occurrence.
Project Description: Rather than use a PLC to implement the control system for their new carburization furnace, a start-up company required the flexibility provided by LabVIEW and the Data Logging and Supervisory Control Toolkit. The system allowed for unmanned 24/7 operation and remote web based control. Key features of the system allowed postponing of alarm notification until after a PV remained in the alarm state for a user configurable period of time or went in and out of alarm state a user configurable number of times.
On a Roll with Caster Quality
Project Abstract:Develop a software application to evaluate the durability of caster wheel-sets. The application has to monitor as many as twelve individual tests while controlling a motorized dial plate. In addition, to maximum system reliability and reproducibility of results, the system must be reconfigurable to track test changes.
Project Description:An equipment manufacturer was at the mercy of an outside supplier for the casters supporting their products. To cut cost while continuing to produce high quality products, they needed to bring caster design and testing in-house. This new effort required an efficient, easy to use, standalone mechanical test stand to support the evaluation of new caster designs. The test stand consists of 12 individual test fixtures controlled through Compact FieldPoint modules while a NI-7342 motion card manages the operation of a rotation dial plate that exercises the casters being tested.
Carburization Furnace Control System
Project Abstract:Due to the sensitive, high-precision nature of their gas analyzers, our customer had previously expended a large amount of time an energy in manually calibrating and testing their product before shipping. First, technicians would manually take the analyzer through a laundry list of firmware functionality checks and setup steps, including checking the internal firmware version number, checking the device serial number and analyzer type, setting the firmware clock, and checking device analog outputs, inputs, and alarm settings. Next, the process of calibrating and validating the gas measurement hardware commenced over a period of several days.
Project Description: Data Science Automation has developed test software for controlling calibration gas inputs, adjusting flue gas analyzer settings through a serial interface, and recording results into Excel via ActiveX automation, fully automating their test and calibration process.
Centralized Accelerated Testing Monitor
Project Abstract:Develop a tool to replace physical strip charts. The software needed to talk to multiple machines on the network, polling for status information, while proving viewing and logging capability. The system needed to be easy to setup and use while being flexible enough to talk to multiple types of machines. Using a well architected application, Data Science Automation was able to develop a product that could be configured to talk to 50 individual units. The system supports all of the customer product lines making it easy to market.
Project Description:A manufacturer of accelerated testing equipment wanted to develop a low cost, easy to use replacement to physical strip chart recorders for its customers. The strip chart recorders required an investment in each machine and produced a stack of paper that had to be stored and made available for third party auditors. Using National Instruments LabVIEW, Data Science Automation developed a system that collected the readings for any number of testers on a single PC and presented the ‘virtual’ strip chart data for review.
Characterizing Methane Concentrations in a Mine using NI LabVIEW
Project Abstract:Without proper management, methane can reach explosive concentrations in underground coal mines. Detailed concentration and airflow measurements are necessary to validate computational models used to design ventilation systems but such data is very difficult to obtain. A flexible application was developed using NI LabVIEW which allows the design of tests directly applicable to the conditions found in the galleries of coal mines.
Project Description: Characterizing the methane concentration in mine galleries presents a number of challenges ranging from the less than ideal test environment found in mines to the high number of data points required to fully characterize the concentration distribution as well as the air-flow dynamics. To address the high sample location challenge, an application was developed that allowed the data collection process to create a composite by reusing a sensor at multiple locations in unique test phases. Sixteen methanometers and four anemometers were used. Inline analysis validated the data and identified sensor failures early.
Characterization of the Next Generation Aircraft Fuel Pump
Project Abstract: Develop an automated data acquisition and test system that incorporates a jet-engine simulation to characterize a developmental Ultra-Efficient Fuel Delivery System (UEFDS). In order to test this unique fuel pump, a test system had to be designed, developed and demonstrated. The test system was required to dynamically simulate the behavior of a jet engine flying through a range of operating conditions as described by altitude, speed (mach-number), and throttle position (power lever angle). Of the more than 100 channels of data to be monitored and logged, 12 channels were needed by the control logic required to determine the control of the four outputs: Pump Drive Speed, Fuel Heat Exchanger valve position, Back Pressure valve position, and Actuation Flow valve position.
Characterization of Thermo-photo Voltaic Diodes with Robotic Prober
Project Abstract: Improve the use of a pre-existing application which controlled a Micromanipulator 8860 Prober. This Prober is used to perform different measurements on ThermoPhotoVoltaic (TPVs) diodes on a silicon wafer. Through an automated process the operator needed to select a list of devices to be characterized by means of illuminated IV (current vs. voltage) curves. The results of the IV curve acquisition would then be analyzed with the results and IV data stored to a database.
Project Description: Data Science Automation (DSA) was selected to develop software that integrated the control of the probe positioning of the micro manipulator 8860 with an application previously developed by DSA to automate the IV Curve acquisition for TPV diodes and other test structures on a wafer. The software also controls lamp intensity and controls the thermal state of the system. After acquiring the IV curve data, the software performs a set of analysis that characterizes the device to be stored as analysis results. The acquired data and analysis results are stored in a relational database organized by the device information.
Chemical Biological Sensor Rapid Simulator
Project Abstract: A LabVIEW application was developed to serve as a simulator for a standoff chemical agent sensor which operates as part of a large network of sensors used to scan and track chemical clouds over a wide scale area. The LabVIEW application will generate data that simulates the manner in which the sensor scans its field of view to detect chemical or biological agents. This data, along with gas concentration from an external running model, is transferred to a central command system for processing along with other sensor data in the network to triangulate moving chemical clouds. Large.
Project Description: Use LabVIEW to interface with external technologies (.NET and TCP/IP) with minimal effort. Create a user friendly interface that displayed the current scan position (azimuth and elevation) of the simulated sensor and the gas concentration read from the model also made LabVIEW a perfect choice for this project.
Circuit Breaker Cyclic Endurance Testing
Project Abstract: A circuit breaker manufacturer needed an automated test application to perform endurance testing of their breakers (Figure 1). A key requirement was that in addition to the automated process, the tester also needed the ability to be paused at set intervals for a trained technician or engineer to make additional manual measurements. In addition, the system also needed to pause when an error occurred with the device under test (DUT). Regardless of why a pause occurred, the software needed to collect a comment from the operator that it would then add test results file.
Project Description: To meet these requirements, Data Science Automation developed an application to control and monitor the test process. This application uses LabVIEW and CompactDAQ to allow for easy expansion and duplication of the system.
Circumferential Tire Wear Inspection System
Project Abstract:The client needed an application to assist in the testing of tire wear patterns for safety and quality verification. This system needed to be partly automated for performing calibration and suggested distance from the tire at the center locations to assist the operator in setting up the tests. The test would use the SLS 5000 laser measurement device to measure the amount of tread wear that had occurred over a set amount of road travel for tractor trailer tires. The application would need to control motion for the positioning of a laser used for profiling the circumferential tire wear. It would also need to take high speed readings at uniform locations along the circumference of the tire. The system also needed to perform a self calibration after the operator sets the initial offset from the distance of the tire to be able to determine the amount of wear from test to test. The first time a tire is tested the information would be saved as a configuration file for that specific tire.
Project Description: Data Science Automation was selected to develop software to better test the tires and track the data. Each tire would have a file associated with it that would contain information about the test results. The data for each test will be stored so that it can be compared to previous test data from the tire. The application would take 4096 measurements around the circumference of the tire in 200 incremental steps across the tire width for checking the road worn surface./p>
Contact Resistance Measurement System
Project Abstract:Design an automated system to measure contact resistance between a probe and flat coupon capable of regulating the force between them and dragging the probe across the coupon. Simultaneously record images from four cameras and place all data into an easily mineable database.
Project Description: NI hardware was used for load cell conditioning, image acquisition, pressure regulation, motion control, and GPIB control of electrical measurement instruments and a single LabVIEW application was created, capable of positioning the probe above the coupon, increasing force, dragging, and decreasing force, all while performing electrical measurements and recording images.
Combatant Watercraft Performance and Maneuvering Telemetry Analysis
Project Abstract:Data Science Automation was selected to improve test capabilities through automation to quantify performance characteristics of hull, electrical, mechanical, and propulsion systems. The versatile system needed to address the diverse range of watercraft from 14’ rubber inflatable rafts to 250 ton surface effect ships, and from 170’ coastal patrol ships to hydrofoil troop transports. Some of the specific measurements included craft weighing, propulsion system performance, dynamic trim, fuel consumption, and craft speed, control and maneuverability. It is to the last of these – craft speed, control and maneuverability – that this description pertains.
Project Description: The shore-based analysis procedure is the standard method of evaluating the “Tactical Turning Diameter” of a vessel after first correcting for set and drift. This was described by one of the in-house experts as “measuring the diameter of a pretzel." Previous methods of evaluating these characteristics required considerable effort, skill and patience to prepare the data for analysis using complicated spreadsheet files. A new, turnkey solution was developed to automate the process using LabVIEW 7.1, the State Diagram Toolkit, and the NI USB-232-1 adapter, installed on a laptop and interfaced with a set of battery powered data acquisition devices. The NI USB-232-1 was selected because it did not require an external AC adapter and was a critical component in the application (see below). NI-VISA was used to control and monitor the serial port during the tests.
Compander Control for Natural Gas Liquefaction Process Simulation
Project Abstract:A leading fuel company needed a reliable process to safely convert large quantities of natural gas products into a liquid, utilizing a liquefaction process. A reliable, automated, small-scale prototype solution was necessary for evaluation prior to deployment in the country of Qatar. This solution had to control elaborate compressor/expander (compander) units and incorporate a multi-screen application that is flexible enough to allow the user to change tests and export data when demanded. It involved very complicated mathematical algorithms for process characterization and verification. Data Science Automation was selected to develop, install, and test the entire system in just three weeks!
Project Description: Working under such a tight deadline, National Instruments LabVIEW 7.1 was selected as the rapid application development environment. An NI-GPIB interface was used for controlling an existing Keithley 2700 DMM system to acquire data during the testing process. The solution that was created is based on three-module software architecture to isolate the main user interface from the other critical acquisition and data management functions. Figure 1 illustrates the architectural approach.
Complex Control System Realized Using Undocking and Custom XControls
Project Abstract:An application was developed that presented a graphical representation of the physical system utilizing color ramps to represent the temperature gradients measured across devices and allowed the screen presentation to be customized depending on the parts of the system currently under examination. As the research focus shifted, the user interface quickly adapted to new needs. Sub-panels and custom XControls were utilized to achieve this adaptability.
Project Description: DSA Utilized VI Server, sub-panels and customized XControls to develop an intuitive user interface that supports graphically drilling down into the virtual system to “see” the temperature gradients while monitoring the behavior of all parameters.
Counter-Terrorism Respiratory Filter Certification
Project Abstract: The US Government required a new gas vapor laboratory application to control and monitor the testing of breathing apparatus used by first responders to toxic industrial chemical disasters. Terrorism threats have required the design and validation of respiratory filters with increasing versatility, to protect personnel in the face of potentially unknown dangers. Manual, low-volume, "wet chemistry" techniques do not suffice to test incompatible challenge agents at high throughput rates. A flexible architecture with rapidly reconfigurable user interface was required to accommodate a variable number of flow loops with different components.
Project Description: Data Science Automation developed a generic, flexible and secure "Service Life Testing" application to control and monitor testing of dozens of breathing apparatus simultaneously. Advanced features were utilized to dynamically create front panel objects for a user-defined number of test cells in each of multiple fume hoods. The solution is based on LabVIEW DSC and FieldPoint and can be configured for use with a variety of detectors and control devices.
Cranking Out Camshaft Timing Data
Project Abstract:A large automotive manufacturer had a problem. Every engine coming off the assembly needed to have its engine camshaft (Figure 1) timing verified. The problem was that the existing process for making this critical measurement involved time-consuming (and error-prone) manual measurements. What the manufacturer needed was a way to automate the engine camshaft timing verification test. To satisfy this need they picked Data Science Automation. The new automated test system utilizes a SCXI-1600 USB-controlled SCXI chassis to provide that acquisition capability and an encoder connected to the crankshaft to synchronize the data with crank rotation.
Project Description:The solution Data Science Automation created utilizes USB technology to centralize the data collection in an SCXI chassis to allow a laptop computer to control the data collection system. Hardware timing based on a crankshaft encoder allows faster and more accurate data collection of camshaft timing information compared to previous methods. The resulting solution has reduced individual engine testing time by up to 30 minutes per engine.
Creation and Validation of Long Term Test System for Artificial Heart Mock Loops
Project Abstract:This project had a two part goal: • Create a monitoring system for artificial heart testing • Verify and validate the created program to stringent medical program guidelines. The system cycled through the bank of testing units, measuring data and recording alarm conditions in compliance with user specifications. Communication to the motion control and temperature control systems was handled in parallel, along with a manual user mode to take direct control at any time. After creation, each VI was tested and validated using the Unit Testing Framework, generating required reports and documentation./p>
Project Description: Parallel loop architecture, combined with the National Instruments USB-based DAQ and signal conditioning allowed constant data display with a fast-response user GUI. The Unit Testing Framework allowed validation before, during and after full system integration.
Curing Cancer, on the Back of LabVIEW
Project Abstract:Performing extracorporeal blood treatment on human patients while complying with European Union regulations for Class C medical devices, adjusting to user feedback, and meeting delivery deadlines.
Project Description: Patient risks were minimized by using a single board RIO to manage the system with critical functions being handled by the FPGA. Code was developed with agile software development techniques, and validated delivery with automated regressive testing.
Data Acquisition System for HVAC Cooling Tower
Project Abstract:A legacy GE Intellution and PLC based test system was lacking features and functionality for a leading industrial HVAC Cooling Tower manufacturer’s R&D test lab.
Project Description: A LabVIEW & PXI based system was implemented to modernize the data acquisition, visualization and data storage capabilities of the test system that provided a deeper understanding of the product performance.
Data Acquisition Systems Manager Application (DASMA)
Project Abstract:The controlled testing of munitions requires a highly complex system that involves the tight synchronization of many subsystems including simulation components. SCRAMNet is one method by which subsystems can share data. One of the critical subsystems that will allow post test analysis consolidates and archives the data from all subsystems and provides a customizable user interface in which to view selected data during the test.
Project Description: The solution was implemented with LabVIEW 7.1 and a custom SCRAMNet driver based upon VISA. The flexibility of LabVIEW allows for unknown types of munitions that will be developed in the future to be handled by simply creating a new module making the application highly scalable.
Data Node Configuration Tool
Project Abstract:The client needed to be able to configure the large number of Compact FieldPoint systems that constituted their data acquisition network. This tool needed to locate the available units on the network, provide a consistent, clear interface for programming them and verifying that the cFP systems are indeed returning the correct data. Moreover, all this had to be done while minimizing the software installed on the customer’s computers. DSA found the solution to all these requirements in LabVIEW.
Project Description:Using LabVIEW, Data Science Automation was able to create an application that allowed the user to program and change the IP address on the customer’s FieldPoint units without the installation of any additional software on their computers.
Determining Air Leakage of Air Barrier Assemblies Using ASTM E 2357
Project Abstract:Construct and automate a state of the art test facility compliant with ASTM E 2357 for “Determining Air Leakage of Air Barrier Assemblies”.
Project Description: DSA and Tremco collaborated to use LabVIEW and cRIO to create an easy to use automated test system that saved Tremco thousands of dollars by eliminating the need to outsource testing and even allowed for the generation of revenue by contracting their facility.
Diagnostics Tool for Automated Locomotive Testing
Project Abstract:In order to improve productivity during the testing of locomotive control system software modifications, a software emulator of a critical custom locomotive component – the Diagnostic Information Display (DID) was developed. Not only did this Virtual Diagnostic Information Display (vDID) eliminate the need for the custom DID hardware during testing of modifications to the locomotive’s control system software, the vDID could be automated to sequence multiple information requests from the controller and electronically record the response. This eliminated hundred of man hours of effort and eliminated all nuisance transcription errors.
Project Description: Data Science Automation (DSA) developed a system to emulate a DID and any power up communications between the DID firmware and the locomotive controller. This system was named the vDID for Virtual Diagnostics Information Display. This system fully emulated the DID communications and was a seamless solution to communicate with a large class of locomotive controllers. The vDID could be automated and the responses from the controller were recorded electronically and compared to expected values using TestStand.
Digital Pressure Gauge Calibrator
Project Abstract:Calibrate multiple digital pressure gauges over multiple ranges in an automated test sequence by controlling a temperature chamber and several pressure controllers. Software should also open certain pressure controllers to a high pressure source periodically to maintain pressure.
Project Description: NI-VISA was used to identify and communicate with up to 28 pressure gauges simultaneously. The pressure controllers, temperature chamber, and pressure valve were also controlled in a single application that automates the calibrations and data logging process.
Distributed System Communications in a Multi-Station Manufacturing Cell using OPC UA
Project Abstract:Providing an easy to use extensible and adaptable data communication method for an automation assisted product assembly line employing a distributed system architecture with the need to allow future expansion of data access outside of the LabVIEW environment/application space.
Project Description:DSA was able leverage the NI OPC UA Toolkit to create an OPC UA suite containing a Server, Client Tag Browser, and Tag Access Library that could be leveraged by our customer for communicating between multiple distributed LabVIEW applications.
Drive Belt Test Dynamometer Retrofit
Project Abstract:Retrofit a drive belt test dynamometer to improve reliability and improve data quality over month long tests.
Project Description: By leveraging an NI CompactRIO , TDMS, and the LabVIEW Development Environment we were able to create a reliable control system and data-logger.
DSC Upgrade to Legacy Tag System
Project Abstract:Migrating a legacy DSC application with four hundred plus tags from LabVIEW 7.1 and DSC Wizard generated tag monitoring code loops to LabVIEW 2014 to increase the system capability for scaling and code adaptability and maintainability.
Project Description: Data Science Automation combined the benefits of the National Instruments Shared Variable Engine, Datalogging and Supervisory Control module, User Event Structures and DAQmx drivers to create a more upgradable, maintainable and customizable system for control and datalogging.
Electrical Tester for Wind Turbine Control Boards
Project Abstract:Wind turbines are an important part of the worldwide power grid. While the mechanical aspects of the turbine system have their own challenges, the control system and its specialized boards require comprehensive failure analysis to ensure system reliability and product improvements. The focus of this project was to create an entire test system for one of the wind turbine control boards. As these boards come back from the field, they are subjected to hardware in the loop (HIL) testing to identify their failure mode. These tests need to be flexible, yet efficient while producing good documentation of results.
Project Description:DSA created a custom connection fixture to test the board using a dynamically configurable PXI test system to run Hardware in the Loop testing of the control boards using DAQmx and PXI RIO. An elegant, adaptable software solution was implemented using the many benefits of NI TestStand and LabVIEW that allowed the execution of a series of user defined tests.
Enhanced Maintainability and Reliability Through Software Backplanes
Project Abstract:A manufacturer of industrial and mil-spec circuit breakers needs to test the mechanical operation of their products before final assembly and shipment. An existing system performed the necessary testing but suffered from poor reliability and, due to the age of the equipment, even poorer maintainability. The answer to their problems was a system that improved the existing user interface, and enhanced maintainability and reliability through a modular software architecture.
Project Description: Taking advantage of LabVIEW’s advanced architectural features, Data Science Automation (DSA) created software backplanes for the user interface and the test engine that support software plugin modules. The new user interface supports operations via hot-keys, menus and on-screen buttons. The data management requirements were met through an integrated Oracle database.
Evaluation of Various Communication Schemes Using NI LabVIEW
Project Abstract:The “Central Computer Test Executive” will allow a wide range of communications schemes to be evaluated to asses their capability to provide a reliable and deterministic interchange of information between interconnected nodes. The CCTE will allow a user to select and execute a test from a set of previously developed “Test Suites”. Each “Test Suite” will allow for user defined parameters. Once setup has been completed, the CCTE will dynamically load and launch specific applications used to test the current communication scheme. Once each application has completed, the PXI chassis return to the CCTE all corresponding data for analysis.
Project Description: Leveraging modular LabVIEW-based software architecture, Data Science Automation has created a system utilizing multiple PXI chassis’s each containing a real-time controller with each chassis having a dynamically loaded application designed for testing the current communication scheme. Once testing has completed, corresponding data is returned to a central computer for analyzing.
Facilities Monitoring System
Project Abstract:The purpose of the Facilities Monitoring System for Health and Human Services is to monitor and log 50 temperatures and humidities of sensors that are distributed throughout a building complex. The application uses Fieldpoint Ethernet modules for distributed I/O. The built-in logging and security capabilities of LabVIEW DSC are used in the server application. Users can check the status of the system remotely using a web-browser. Alarms can also be suspended remotely from a web-browser.
Project Description: We used approximately 3000 ft of 4 conductor wire to connect Omega Temperature and Humidity transducers in 4-20 mA circuits to the Fieldpoint modules distributed throughout the buildings. LabVIEW DSC was used to log and monitor the sensors and to produce web pages for easy remote access to the system.
Flat Glass Optical Distortion Analyzer
Project Abstract:Replace an obsolete, labor-intensive quality control inspection system for flat glass distortion analysis with an automated system which performs the motion control, data acquisition and analysis tasks with greater accuracy, repeatability, and efficiency.
Project Description: Data Science Automation uses National Instruments LabVIEW, PXI, SCXI, Database Connectivity Toolkit, and the Signal Processing Toolkit to create a custom application that combines flexibility and ease-of-use with reliable motion control, data acquisition, high speed accurate analysis, comprehensive reporting, trending, and archiving capabilities.
Flexible Test Manager for Lift Truck Electronics Modules
Project Abstract:To achieve product reliability goals for lift trucks, electronic modules on these trucks are subjected to reliability and qualification tests during the development process. A fundamental part of this testing is a functional test. Environmental stresses are applied to these modules. Functional tests are performed before, during, and after the stress application to verify the module is still performing as intended. Application of the environmental stresses may result in a defect or reveal a weakness in the design that can progress from a state that does not immediately affect performance to one that degrades or even stops the product from performing acceptably. This progression, called precipitation of defects, does not provide any useful information to the design team if it is not detected. A functional tester provides one means of defect detection capability.
Project Description: Combining the benefits of traditional LabVIEW and LabVIEW Object-Oriented Programming (LVOOP) to create clean programming interfaces between the software framework and the client’s customized tests created by their engineers.
Flexible Solution to Robotic Vehicle Controller Testing
Project Abstract:A company that produces control systems for robotic industrial forklifts needed a flexible solution for testing the I/O points on their controller hardware that could be expanded in future versions to fully simulate a forklift unit attached to the controller.
Project Description: Data Science Automation designed a sequential I/O tester using LabVIEW and CompactDAQ that could be re-used in a modular fashion to become a simulation interface, or expanded into a more substantial test interface by adding NI TestStand.
FPGA Interfacing with Sonotec SONOCHECK Bubble Detector
Project Abstract:The fluid system in a biomedical device had to be free of bubbles for patient protection. Prior solutions implemented were making use of the serial capability of the device and did not meet requirements for speed and risk mitigation. The DIO on the sbRIO were considered to be part of the instrument hardware by the regulatory committee and thus utilizing the PWM output mode of the SONOCHECK Bubble Detector was considered the most reliable, repeatable, and provided the fastest detection with the 40 MHz clock allowing for accurate measurement of 1 cycle of the 1000 Hz PWM output from the device.
In addition to the standard operating mode with the FPGA being used to measure the PWM output of the Bubble Detector it also had to interface with the device and run the self-test protocol handshaking with digital output and input lines from the Bubble Detector. Being able to run the PWM input and characterization in true parallel with the control logic functions for the Bubble Detector simplified implementation and made time-to-market faster as well.>
Project Description: Interfacing with the SONOCHECK bubble detector with its 1 KHz PWM output mode was accomplished through use of the RMC DIO channels and provided the safest and most reliable implementation.
FPGA Step and Direction Control of Motors with Ramping
Project Abstract: A biomedical device needed to have hardware level control of motion control outputs to stepper motors driving fluid pump heads. Software of Unknown Provenance (SOUP) where documentation could not be easily obtained was a deciding factor in moving away from the original intelligent stepper motors used in a prototype system that performed the same functionality. FMEA indicated that the motor control should be implemented on the FPGA for highest reliability and safety intervention.
Project Description: The sbRIO-9626 FPGA is used to perform SPI communication to the Stepper Drive boards for setting the drive currents as well as for outputting the Step and Direction signals for the three motors.
“Frac” Pump Controller
Project Abstract: Using multiplatform LabVIEW along with FPGA executing on a cRIO chassis and c-Series modules, Data Science Automation was able to create a Real-Time application with built in safety procedures that would communicate to a Windows based LabVIEW application for operator specific control.
Project Description: The client needed a Real-Time system capable of monitoring and controlling a well site fracturing (Frac) pump truck. The application need to include the ability to adapt to an ever changing environment to offer reliable well fracturing control along with supreme safety. sing multiplatform LabVIEW along with FPGA executing on a cRIO chassis and c-Series modules, Data Science Automation was able to create a Real-Time application with built in safety procedures that would communicate to a Windows based LabVIEW application for operator specific control.
Gas Burner and Furnace Tester
Project Abstract: Over 200 channels of data are required for the certification testing of gas burners. The complex scaling and analyses must be automated to allow testing to keep up with manufacturing.
Project Description: Create an application that allowed the user to create and retrieve multiple configuration profiles and route data to displays on several tabs. Modular software architecture allowed communication between modules handling acquisition, scaling, analysis, visualization, and logging of data.
Gas Mask Canister Production Monitoring and Reporting
Project Abstract: Data Science Automation used a third-party OPC server provided by Kepware because it supported Mitsubishi FX series PLCs, which were the type present in the assembly line. The data registers of the PLC that needed to be collected were documented in the PLC code, so all that was needed was to create tags in KepServerEx OPC server for the data registers in question. To then interface LabVIEW with the OPC server, National Instruments’ Datalogging Supervisory and Control (DSC) module was used to bind tags that were created in KepServerEx to Shared Variables. The application took advantage of the functionality of DSC and created value change events for each of the Shared Variables created.
Project Description: The customer hired Data Science Automation, Inc. to develop a LabVIEW application that would communicate with 12 PLCs via an OPC server to collect data from each station as a part is assembled in the line. The application would need to track the part as it moves from station to station and then store all data for a part into a database and reference the part with a unique serial number.
Gas Well Fracturing Proppant Delivery System
Project Abstract: The client needed to have a system that a worker in the oilfield could operate to control the amount of materials that were being pumped in the well during hydraulic fracturing. The system needed to be calibrated when it was first installed and after any field sensor changes to ensure the correct amount of materials were pumped into the well. The system uses feedback control to make adjustments to the additives to maintain specified concentrations and flow rates.
Project Description: Using LabVIEW, Data Science Automation created an application that allowed the user to set the amounts of additives and the amount of proppant to the rate of water for fracturing the well.
Gee, Measuring Cockpit G’s with G
Project Abstract: A military research facility needed to verify the accuracy of a cockpit g-meter containing an analog and digital reading display. It was suspected that under certain situations the analog and digital readings would not agree. The raw data consists of video of the meter recorded during a flight test. To avoid the tedium, time and error inherent in analyzing this video manually, DSA developed an automated application to analyze the video and log the data to a file – thus doing in a mater of seconds what would have taken hours manually.
Project Description: Data Science Automation (DSA) created a LabVIEW application utilizing National Instruments’ vision tools to capture an image of the g-meter and then analyze the image to read the information that the meter is presenting. Finally, the system archives the results to a log file.
Getting the Straight Dope on Counterfeit Gold Bars
Project Abstract: DSA was selected to implement this project for our customer due to our extensive knowledge of LabVIEW and National Instruments hardware. They were attracted to DSA by our membership in the NI Alliance Partner Program and our high number of LabVIEW certifications. A quick turn-around time was needed on the basic prototype system to validate the possibility of utilizing microphone technology to detect counterfeit gold bars.
Project Description: Develop and prototype a compact mobile audio signature testing system to detect counterfeit gold bars doped with tungsten rods or tungsten cores. Data Science Automation leveraged the CompactDAQ platform, the power of the C Series microphone module and ease of microphone connectivity to create a simple, inexpensive mobile testing platform.
High Throughput Screening System
Project Abstract: The challenge was to design High Throughput Screening System based on functional descriptions supplied by the customer. The system was based on a simpler prototype model developed previously for the customer by DSA. The first generation prototype system used only two axes of motion to move a target plate below a Sono-Tek spray nozzle. The spray from the nozzle was directed by nitrogen gas directed by a proprietary design gas distributor plate. The gas flow was controlled by an Aalborg gas mass flow meter.
Project Description: DSA leveraged National Instruments hardware and selected the PCI-7356 Six-Axis motion controller. The Primatics motor drive was selected for its ease of integration with the NI motion control cards. No Universal Motion Interface is needed to connect the NI Motion card with the drive. Both the PCI-7356 and the MDC800 allow the user to control stepper motors as well as servo motors. Using the MDC 800 and the PCI-7356 reduced the number of hardware control pieces required for the system and helped to reduce the size of the final instrument.
High Throughput Security Tape Reclamation System
Project Abstract: Data Science Automation upgraded the existing DMS 24 system which processed 24 tapes and expanded its capabilities significantly to integrate multiple bit analyzers, Sony DIR-1000 recording systems and the new Sony DMS-8800 tape transport system using NI LabVIEW, serial and GPIB control. The resulting system will test up to 87 tapes simultaneously using the Sony DMS8800 tape library, resulting in a cost savings of more than $3MM/year. The purpose of this system is to increase the efficiency of the tape testing process for this organization. The current DMS-24 is using a 24-cassette library and is saving $1 million per year from tape reuse. The goal is to triplicate the system to meet the volume demands for tape reuse and to increase costs savings.
Project Description: The US Government makes use of a large numbers of 19mm SD1 cassette tapes to archive sensitive information for national security purposes. Once data contained on these tapes is removed, the tapes may be reused if cleaned and verified operational by bit pattern write and read procedures and error analysis.
High Voltage Sterilizer Tester
Project Abstract: A leading provider of infection prevention and procedural surgical products and services needed to increase the speed of testing large, high voltage steam sterilizers.
Project Description: Previous implementations had the technician struggling to read a number of gauges, all while controlling the different stages of signaling to the system, essentially making the technician operate as the Hardware In the Loop for the sterilizer. DSA's automated system takes over the 24V digital signaling for all the solenoids and control signals, as well as rapid, precise measurement of both pressure generated, and the voltage and current levels of the devices under Test, but assembling the system in a protected enclosure, and moving to a touchscreen interface was a final step in moving this procedure from the Research and Development realm over to a repeatable, Automated Manufacturing test system.
Immune Adsorption System for Cancer Treatment
Project Abstract: Immunotherapy is a rapidly developing area of cancer treatment and provides an alternative to patients that are untreatable by traditional methods. There are a variety of immunotherapy techniques but what they have in common is that each attempts to modify the human immune system in ways that allow it to combat cancer cells.
Project Description: Patient risks were minimized by using a single board RIO to manage the system with critical functions being handled by a deterministic real-time loop and the FPGA. These features allowed for deterministic system health checks and complied with the client’s risk assessment.
Ion Beam Deposition Automation
Project Abstract: The Naval Research Laboratory expressed a desire to automate an ion beam deposition system. Because of the manual nature of every control, operating the system required the presence of highly qualified personnel during the entire deposition process. Using LabVIEW to control the Ion-Beam power supplies, the Kepco power supply, the gas controllers, and all the valves, while monitoring the pressures and flows in the system allowed us to fully automate the system and control it using a script language.
Project Description: Using new features in LabVIEW 6i, such as the tab-control and data-socket connections of the front-panel controls, we were able to fully automate the deposition system so that it can now be controlled using a simple script.
Keep Those Canisters Moving! Automation of Military Respirator Tests
Project Abstract: Monitor and record data from an assembly line by interfacing with existing PLCs.
Project Description: Using NI OPC Server to interface with the customer’s existing PLCs we were able to deploy an application to record data from each station in their assembly line. LabVIEW’s ability to integrate with both the OPC Server and 3rd party serial devices accelerated development and provided a stable solution.
LabVIEW Based Viscosity Profiler
Project Abstract: Create a modular application that allows a chemical engineer the ability to characterize, in real-time, the viscosity of liquids as additives are combined while providing seamless transitions between characterization profiles and mixture control.
Project Description: Leverage LabVIEW’s built-in ability to communicate via standard protocols to provide mixture control while combining the benefits of the NI Compact DAQ to create a flexible yet easy to replicate system for performing real-time analysis for viscosity profiles.
LabVIEW Data Acquisition System for Aircraft RVSM Certification
Project Abstract: Assemble a portable data acquisition system, designed for quick installation and removal from test aircraft to record air data from instrumentation transducers and airplane avionics equipment during certification flights.
Project Description: Facilitate the required testing to maintain Beechcraft Premier I Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) group certification without impacting delivery schedule.
LabVIEW Simplifies Testing of Medical Instrument Sterilizer System
Project Abstract:Create a user-friendly interface to view and log data from a variety of sensors to validate medical device washer performance, integrating additional data tags from an OPC server in the device itself.
Project Description:We utilized the power and adaptability of NI cDAQ and LabVIEW DSC to pull in analog sensor data and OPC tags. The resulting application saved our customer dozens of man-hours per week, and improved their confidence in their product characterization.
LabVIEW Simplifies Viewing of Very Large Text Files
Project Abstract:Create a user-friendly interface to view extremely large data files in a single operator screen, even as they are being updated from ongoing tests of advanced energy components.
Project Description:DSA utilized the power and adaptability of NI LabVIEW, with precision memory management to preserve system resources, while allowing presentation of relevant data.
Lawnmower Tether Test Control
Project Abstract:A lawn tractor manufacturing company desired to automate tethered tractor quality control testing to increase test engineer safety and increase data collection capabilities. Data Science Automation was able to provide a robust platform to withstand the outdoor testing environment and high vibration induced by the tracks built-in obstacles such as ramps and bumps. Data collected from the system is used to increase the robustness of the tractor components and also pinpoint component failure areas.
Project Description:The solution was based around the robust cRIO platform. LabVIEW Real-Time and LabVIEW FPGA allowed a stand-alone automated control and monitoring system (Figure 1) to be installed on the tractor. An intelligent system architecture allowed for a reconfigurable on-board system that could be tailored to multiple test unit types.
Listening for Leaks
Project Abstract:The customer wants to create a more effective way to detect leakage on filter masks. The current technique is messy, provides limited information, and can only be done in controlled environments.
Project Description: Paving the way with new information and more realistic tests, a new method for measuring filter mask fit was demonstrated, using LabVIEW, cDAQ, and ultrasonic sensors.
Long Term Non-Destructive Health Monitoring of Piezo Transducers
Project Abstract: A nuclear power plant research company had a need to test Piezo transducers they planned to use for structural health monitoring. The client needed to perform long term radiation exposure testing of multiple transducers to determine the exposure effects over the transducers’ life-cycle. The automated test system developed by Data Science Automation utilizes a PXI-1042 chassis with ZTEC oscilloscope to digitize the piezo signal and a DMM to measure transducer resistance. Signal routing is switched between the two instrument paths and one of eight transducers by two NI PXI-2593 multiplexer cards configured in the 8x1 terminated multiplexer topology.
Project Description: Data Science Automation created a system that utilizes a rack mount PXI chassis to centralize the data collection hardware. Two PXI switch cards allow connection of up to eight transducers to either a PXI Oscilloscope card operating with a pulser/receiver or digital multi meter (DMM) for resistance measurement.
Locomotive Control Simulation and Validation System
Project Abstract: An international manufacturer of locomotive transportation and control systems must validate the locomotives proper functionality if any control system software modifications are made. An automated, flexible, and productive test architecture is required to replace the current manual procedure that is tedious and requires time consuming, error-prone human intervention.
Project Description: Data Science Automation used NI LabVIEW and TestStand to develop a test architecture that replaced the locomotive status console (a serial device) with an automated virtual console developed with LabVIEW. The entire effort required integration of the locomotive simulator which included a legacy LabVIEW 4 application running under a real-time UNIX operating system.
Magnetron Sputtering Cathode Magnetic Field Mapper
Project Abstract: The client specializes in the manufacture of custom cathodes that are a critical component of magnetron sputtering technology. They required a test application to map the two-dimensional magnetic field of the cathodes they create and use to conduct sputtering. Sputtering is a vacuum deposition technique for coating objects from semiconductors to credit cards. Previously, the testing was done by a technician holding a magnetometer above the cathode from a certain distance and writing down the measurement readings. This was very tedious as some cathodes are large in size. The testing of the cathodes is important for the profiling of their magnets in order to better control the sputtering process. The challenge was to improve the current procedure by automating the cathode testing. Instead of the technician holding the magnetometer over the cathode, a motion controller would move over the area of the cathode taking the required readings.
Project Description:Data Science Automation was selected to develop an automated test application which would control a third-party Trio Motion Controller using an ActiveX interface, acquire data from the magnetometer via a low cost NI-USB 6008 data acquisition device and store the results to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
Making an Impact - Train Car Crash Characterization with LabVIEW
Project Abstract: Create a measurement system to collect information during controlled collisions of railroad cars on a test track, to help a major train supply company evaluate performance of their car coupling components.
Project Description:We leveraged the NI cDAQ platform to easily and transparently expose the force and strain physics that our customer needed to investigate, while still affording flexibility to dynamically add new measurement channels to adapt to their changing needs.
Measuring Polymer Strength using LabVIEW
Project Abstract: A polymer manufacturer was at the mercy of an outside testing facility for determining the stresses that a new polymer compound could with stand. Using this outside test facility meant long and costly delays between the development and manufacturing of high quality plastic polymers. To replace the outside test facility, the effort would have to incorporate stress barring motion while acquiring and analyzing loads, temperatures, electrical conductivity along with birefringence data in a manor in which low values of polymers could be tested periodically during development.
Project Description:Leveraging modular LabVIEW-based software architecture, Data Science Automation (DSA) has created a system utilizing National Instruments acquisition and communication boards to monitor and control signals containing loads, electrical stresses, temperatures and birefringence data.
MEMS Digital Microphone DSP Analysis Migration
Project Abstract: A manufacturer of on-chip microphones needed to standardize their acquisition hardware across several different test systems. To accomplish this goal they needed to migrate from a legacy dynamic signal acquisition card to a more general M-series data acquisition card. However this change required moving the calculations that the specialized hardware performed into the existing LabVIEW application. The Sound & Vibration toolkit allowed the developer to accomplish this task with aplomb.
Project Description:Utilizing the LabVIEW Sound & Vibration Toolkit and an M-Series data acquisition card, Data Science Automation was able to duplicate the analysis originally performed in the legacy dynamic signal acquisition card.
MEMS-Based Multi-Layer Piezoelectric Ceramic Actuator Characterization
Project Abstract: Multilayer piezoelectric actuators accurately generate micron level movements. These complex devices are the enabling technology in research and commercial systems such as inkjet and laser printers, ultrasonic cleaners, and high resolution video projection systems. By using multiple layers of thinner ceramics, the power requirements are reduced, but the manufacturing constraints become tighter making them more universally usable and the accuracy of production testing much more critical.
Project Description:The solution was the creation of a scalable, high performance automated test system that provided batch testing of twenty devices. The system provided real time updates of individual device measurements as well as pass/fail indications and provided a flexible method to adjust the tolerance limits for the tests.
Mercury Emissions Stack Monitor
Project Abstract: In order to comply with Federal Clean Air regulations, mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. must be continuously monitored. The proportional measurement technique requires sampling rates to be continuously adjusted to remain in proportion with stack flow. In addition, all calibration, maintenance and leak checking modes must be automated. The system uses a Programmable Automation Controller (PAC) that operates remotely, controlling the sample collection for as much as a week. The only computer connection is an RS-485 output line to a data logger. Therefore, all control and programming of the PAC, as well as all user feedback, is through a wireless connection to a PDA, running National Instruments LabVIEW PDA module.
Project Description:Creating a flexible, real time software architecture deployed to a Compact FieldPoint (CFP) Programmable Automation Controller (PAC) with a wireless communications interface to a PDA. The PDA provides all status display and operator interaction. The system saves data to the CompactFlash drive, and broadcasts data over an RS-485 serial connection to a data logger.
Military Vehicle Lifting
Project Abstract: All military equipment that requires transport via land, sea, rail, or air must comply with the guidelines documented in MIL-STD-209J “Interface Standard for Lifting and Tiedown Provisions” (see Figure 1). To ensure the safe transport of military assets around the globe, certification of compliance with MIL-STD-209J requires extensive testing and meticulous record keeping. Data Science Automation was selected to automate the process.
Project Description:An automated solution was developed that built on the functionality present in the NI hardware and software. The new application transformed the relationship between the operator and the application. The previous methodology relied heavily on user input and interaction to complete the test. The new application eliminated all of the user interaction and allowed the user to concentrate on the test being conducted. The LabVIEW State Diagram (SD) Toolkit was utilized to accomplish the transformation.
Mine Explosion Propagation Studies Using CompactRIO
Project Abstract: A government agency needed a more robust network system for recording test explosion in experimental mines. A fiber optic network replaced the fragile and high maintenance copper wires that previously ran from every sensor, hundreds of feet, back to the surface. DSA used the rapid processing power and flexible configuration of the CompactRIO platform to deploy hardware to each data station, able to readily communicate date back across the network to the host computer. The CompactRIO combined the needed data acquisition with relay actuators and built-in networking capability to enhance and improve the previous system.
Project Description:Using a distributed real-time and field-programmable gate array (FPGA) architecture on CompactRio (cRIO) systems across a fiber optic network, DSA was able to perform synchronized triggering and data acquisition with timing precision of one millisecond. FPGA flexibility allowed multiple sensor configurations between platforms, while using the same program architecture.
Motion Control System to Characterize Neuro-Otologic Response of Humans
Project Abstract: The complex interactions between the human body’s neurological and otological systems are disrupted by disorders and sometimes simply by unusual body motion. A Neuro Otologic test system is used to test a patient’s inner ear response to motion by tracking eye response after the body has been moved to various positions or subjected to cyclic motion. The patient’s response to these motions can indicate specific disorders are present. A motion control and position tracking system was developed for use as a tool for researchers and physicians.
Project Description: The PCI-7342 2-Axis Stepper/Servo Controller was selected to provide Step and Direction commands to the drives. This was easily accomplished by choosing to utilize the 7342 in Open Loop Stepper mode. The Yaskawa drives incorporated a feature to close the position loop internally making it unnecessary to operate the PCI-7342 in closed loop operation. A Universal Motion Interface, UMI-7764, was used to connect the PCI-7342 to the drives (Figure 1) and counters on a PCI-6229 were used to accurately track the position of the two axes.
Multiple Fracturing Pump Control System
Project Abstract: Using LabVIEW, Data Science Automation was able to create an application that launched the other application and tied into the data and controls to monitor and control the Real-Time (RT) targets. This allowed the customer to control up to sixteen well fracturing pumps on a single computer.
Project Description: The client needed to have a system to control multiple well fracturing pumps from one computer using previously designed LabVIEW code made to control one pump at a time. The application needed to be able to launch multiple executables of the other application and monitor and control the system. Using LabVIEW, Data Science Automation was able to create an application that launched the other application and tied into the data and controls to monitor and control the Real-Time (RT) targets. This allowed the customer to control up to sixteen well fracturing pumps on a single computer.
Naval Pump Simulation
Project Abstract:Characterizing the pump’s performance allows the customer to produce a superior product. The customer wanted a system that would reduce the amount of time needed to test each pump while it continued to collect as much data as possible for future off-line analysis. The solution needed to be cost effective and robust. Using state machine architecture, the solution provides the required functionality.
Project Description:Data Science Automation used National Instruments LabVIEW and SCXI data acquisition hardware to develop and application that allows the user to work with an interactive screen that looks like the product under test. The application allows the operator to control the test parameters and see the live results of the testing.
Need an Instrument that does not exist? Just Build It!
Project Abstract:Characterizing modern microphones requires many special tests where NI hardware meets the physical requirements, once configured in LabVIEW.
Project Description:Merging the wide array of NI hardware, using the PXI chassis framework allowed all measurements to be taken from one instrument rack, even in complicated timing interactions.
NI Tools Assist In Biomedical R&D Breakthrough
Project Abstract:The development of a high-throughput liquid handling system that applies sample solutions to twenty microscope slides at a rate of one slide per second.
Project Description:The development of a flexible, PC-based slide coating system using a National Instruments (NI) PCI-7344 motion control board and an NI NuDrive 2SX-411 motor drive to handle X-Y motion as well as system digital and analog output, NI-VISA drivers to interact with third-party serial equipment, and LabVIEW 6.0.2 to create reliable, intuitive, and modular control software.
Oil and Gas Drilling Wireless DAQ system
Project Abstract:The drilling service had several requests about how the application should work on the job site. The numerous trucks arriving on the job site would need to be connected to the wireless network automatically. Each truck would have its own node consisting of a Compact FieldPoint with backplane, one or two AI-111 modules, a wireless hub, and a complement of sensors to provide critical information to the centralized application. Regardless of the specific truck configuration all of the data needed to be handled by the main application in the same manner.
Project Description:The data would be collected using Compact FieldPoint units and AI-111 modules. The application would automatically connect to any in range systems and start providing real-time data to the main application. The operator would be permitted to select any data that was relevant to the well site operation.
On the Fly Graphical Interface Customization
Project Abstract: DSA wanted to empower the client with the ability to easily modify their application without having to completely abort their filter efficiency assessment application while also providing a platform and interface that is intuitive even to those that are not formally trained in the LabVIEW programming environment. DSA leveraged National Instruments ability to implement an Object-Oriented (OO) design approach. Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) has demonstrated it is superiority over procedural or sequential programming as a powerful architecture in many languages. It allows engineers to develop applications with well-designed interfaces between sections of code. OOP also provides proven rules for creating and modifying those sections of code. OOP designs in general are easier to debug, while providing methods for scalability and flexibility. OOP designs allow for a Plug-in design feature which would allow modifications to the source code that could implemented without the client’s aborting an assessment test. This is crucial considering the assessment test operates over weeks or even months with continuous data acquisition and analysis. If a software update needs to be applied, the client does not want to stop an assessment, they simply wanted an on the fly update applied which the OO design approached allowed DSA to implement.
Project Description: Create a modular application that eliminates the non-standard file protocols used with a Compact FieldPoint controller and provides the ability for the user display to adapt while a filter efficiency assessment is running. Leverage LabVIEW’s built in ability to communicate via standard network protocols while leveraging LabVIEW’s Object Oriented Design capability to empower the client with the ability to interface between sections of code without interrupting the filter efficiency assessment.
Optimization of an Inline Oxygen Barrier Coating Process for Polyethylene Pipe
Project Abstract:The challenge was to develop a flexible process monitoring and control system that would provide researchers the ability to understand and optimize the process of coating polyethylene pipe with an oxygen barrier coating. Data Science Automation was selected to automate the manual process that had been initially used to move the process through a proof of concept stage. The multistage process of applying and curing the coating is shown schematically in Figure 1. The process contained nineteen independent parameters that affected the quality characteristics of the coating. The ability to tailor the process and reliably reproduce the product with tight constraints would require an application that provided extensive flexibility.
Project Description:Through months of manual operation of the coating system, a basic understanding of the dominant process variables was obtained. However it quickly became apparent to researchers that in order to optimize a process with so many independent variables, a very flexible automation system would be required. Data Science Automation was chosen to develop the application. Data Science Automation chose National Instruments FieldPoint hardware because of its modularity and the distributed nature of the process which extended over a length of nearly more than one hundred feet. In order to provide the versatility required that would allow the researches to have an application that could be used initially to understand the details of the process then later be used to optimize and control the process under steady state operation, the application architecture needed to be uniquely designed.
Optimization of a Closed Loop Flapping Wing
Project Abstract: The optimization of a controlled flapping wing micro aerial vehicle for energy-efficient flight in gust using a general, service-oriented framework is investigated. Kinematic (wing-stroke pattern), geometric (wing shape), frequency, and control (state penalty) design variables are considered in a sequence of optimization problems. The service-oriented framework is applied to the integration of a flapping vehicle physics-based model, a linear quadratic regulator control system, a continuous gust model, a gradient based optimizer utilizing the method of moving asymptotes, and a graphical user interface to facilitate design studies. Constraints are applied to the path displacement of the vehicle and the peak control power exerted to maintain a fixed position during hover. Five optimization studies utilizing varying design parameters and gust disturbances are presented. In the optimization studies, the tradeoff between prescribing periodic kinematic motion and governing the kinematic motion with close loop control is evaluated.
Project Description: Throughout the past several decades flapping wing (or ornithopter) technology has accelerated due to an increasing interest in transitioning flight characteristics inherent in flying insects and birds to the Micro Aerial Vehicle (MAV). It is envisioned that by adopting these characteristics, the Flapping Wing MAV (FWMAV) will be capable of performing flight profiles considered impassible by a MAV equipped with current fixed and rotary wing technology. These profiles may require advanced agility, persistent hovering, and perching in highly constrictive environments. This includes environments such as building interiors, tunnels, and urban areas composed of narrow alleys with obstructions such as utility poles and wires, etc… Current research and development is attempting to understand and exploit flapping wing technology to meet these flight profile capabilities. In turn, this development will introduce a new generation of FWMAVs which can better perform a myriad of functions including search and rescue operations and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance gathering.
Picture This: Creating Controls on the Fly
Project Abstract: A large US government sub-contractor recognized a need for an application that would reduce the time associated with designing, prototyping and evaluating the ergonomic and logical layout of their control panels. Data Science Automation developed a solution that utilized Dynamic Event Registration and the LabVIEW Picture control, yet allowed users with no knowledge of programming to use and create controls on the fly.
Project Description: Data Science Automation exploited the power and flexibility of LabVIEW dynamic event registration and the picture control to implement an application that supports the creation of re-configurable virtual user interfaces. The final application realized one of the “holy grails” of LabVIEW: Creating controls on the fly.
Plastic Ribbon Inspection Station
Project Abstract: A global manufacturer of plastics experienced manufacturing defects in their web extrusion processes. During the production, voids and/or unmixed batch material would eventually cause unacceptable quality in manufactured molded parts. The existing inspection system for identifying such defects gave instantaneous and localized indication only with no logging capability.
Project Description: Data Science Automation utilized the same test fixture for off-line inspection, but replaced the instrumentation package with NI LabVIEW and NI DAQ with more sensitive displacement sensors. The PC-centric solution offered more functionality, accuracy and expansion capability. Software trending and analysis readily identified defects and even exposed deficiencies in the test fixture itself prompting a redesign. The first system has been deployed off-line with plans for eventual on-line production testing.
Polymer Reactor Data Logging
Project Abstract: The development of a reactor data logging system to be integrated with multi-vendor devices with the ability to run reactor tests unattended and log test results to a file.
Project Description: DSA developed a flexible, recipe-based high throughput testing system to control the reactors, chemical selection, volumes, flow rates and durations and stirring periods, including data logging, alarm monitoring and emergency shutdown procedures. It can run unattended to accommodate experiments extending beyond normal business hours. The solution was developed using NI LabVIEW 6.0.2, NI FieldPoint modules, and 16 ports RS-232C serial interface card. Reactor temperature was monitored and controlled Watlow temperature indicators and power controllers and connected to FieldPoint modules for remote monitoring and control of the application.
Precision Characterization of Ethernet Devices with LabVIEW Real-Time and FPGA
Project Abstract: Create a complete hardware/software solution to precisely characterize Ethernet communication devices for timing, power consumption, and error response at the OSI Layer 2 level. Design the system to be easily extensible by customer’s own internal resources.
Project Description: Utilize NI RT and FPGA PXIe modules with ample power to satisfy the customer’s nanosecond timing requirements, along with an equally-modular LabVIEW software architecture designed around cohesive plug-in components that can be easily cloned and modified.
Predicting Edible Meat Casing Vigor via Explosions
Project Abstract: The Edible Meat Casing Strength (EMC) system was created due to DSA’s client’s needs for a robust, reliable and affordable hardware and software solution for predicting the strength properties of an edible meat casing. When the strength properties of an edible meat casing are known DSA’s client would be able to tailor the physical and chemical makeup of the casing to maximize the casing’s overall strength while minimizing the material needed to produce the casing. This optimization provided the best profit margins without compromising quality. To control and acquire data, DSA leveraged National Instruments LabVIEW’s development environment with its unprecedented ability to integrate with hardware (National Instruments cDAQ USB hardware in this case) while providing the ability to create custom Intellectual Property (IP) (Figure 1) designs to specifically address the client’s needs.
Project Description: Replace a legacy DOS/ISA computer and application to control and monitor strength testing of edible meat casing with a state of the art LabVIEW application running on a current Windows OS. Leverage LabVIEW and the modular cDAQ chassis with C-Series modules to rapidly create an application that would acquire a multitude of sensor data while controlling air flow to rapidly inflate edible meat casing until burst.
Production Testing of a Locomotive Diagnostics and Control System
Project Abstract:The purpose of this system was to automate an otherwise manually intensive testing process to identify problems with the locomotive manufacturing process. This system was designed to be a flexible and portable system to facilitate the exhaustive testing of all functions and capabilities of the locomotive. In the end this increased the reliability of the locomotive and eliminated potential test value transcription errors.
Project Description:Data Science Automation (DSA) developed a system to emulate a Diagnostic Information Display (DID). The DID is a custom serial device found on a large class of locomotives. The virtual DID (vDID) was a process that ran on a Windows PC and emulated the DID. The customer required that the vDID be integrated with an existing, highly customized Visual Basic (VB) test executive. This test executive was modified to launch the vDID when the user required DID parameter information. This was done by compiling the vDID into a DLL. This DLL was then called whenever any DID information was required by the test sequence.
Pyrex Glass Press Instrumentation System
Project Abstract:A Pyrex® glassware manufacturer desired to upgrade their 24x7 process monitoring on high-temperature production glass presses. The original, proprietary, C-based system was built on obsolete technology and was difficult to maintain and modify. Equipment deterioration and obsolescence dictated a change from the present system with enhanced features.
Project Description:Data Science Automation (DSA) developed a contemporary system based on National Instruments (NI) LabVIEW, PXI and DAQ to acquire digital and analog signals from displacement sensors, pyrometers, etc. for event and process monitoring, and to replicate the original GUI to simplify the end user’s transition. An industrial PXI solution was suitable to sustain the harsh, high-temperature environment and 24-hour operation. In addition to real-time analysis and display of process characteristics, the data is being collected for archival to a networked Oracle database.
Radiator Testing in Simulated Space Vacuum Conditions
Project Abstract: NI LabVIEW was integrated with high accuracy signal conditioning hardware in order to monitor radiator cooling in a vacuum environment. Live display and recording of the data allowed proper management of an expensive test. Matching and confirmation of infrared derived data was made during analysis. The users could rapidly deploy separate tests due to the portable nature of the systems and had the ability to adjust the system to different hardware sets using the custom Scales in NI MAX (Measurement and Automation Explorer).
Project Description: The National Instruments platform provided the channel count and signal conditioning needs of the customer and allowed the flexibility of deployment required by a fast-paced research lab.
Reconfigurable Pulsed Laser Deposition Control and Monitor System
Project Abstract:Provide a pulsed laser deposition (PLD) control application that will differentiate a company from the competition by offering an aesthetic, full-featured software package to monitor and control their PLD systems.
Project Description:Data Science Automation developed a modular LabVIEW solution that allowed for a single application that could be used with various PLD configurations by dynamically enabling/disabling certain modules for each deployment.
Remote Witness of Steam Turbine Testing
Project Abstract:In conjunction with the production of steam turbines our client provides remote monitoring of the certification testing, thus eliminating the need for an international client to travel thousands of miles to witness a test lasting a few hours. This application integrated LabVIEW 8.5 using interactive Remote Panels in which multiple users have the ability to communicate via text chat while viewing live data being acquired during the certification testing.
Project Description:Data Science Automation created an application with the ability to communicate with National Instruments Remote Panels, and National Instruments Web Server. The program also has access to a centralized database server containing all necessary product test results along with the current text chat interaction for that same product.
RFID Validation System
Project Abstract: A leading provider of infection prevention and procedural surgical products and services needed a more efficient and consistent way to perform final check outs of disposable Sterilizer cups before leaving their facility.
Project Description: A recent upgrade to the product added an RFID strip to the cups, which required programming and checking in each case. Data Science Automation's system replicated the end use of the cups, with a loading door, bar code scanner, and RFID interface that allowed the same information to be read in manufacturing, as would be needed in the field. This allows for full validation of the data encoded into the product, beyond just an inspection of the physical assembly of the cups.
Remote Control Car Dynamometer
Project Abstract:The customer produces remote control (RC) car dynamometer chassis that is used as a hands-on physics lesson for high school and college courses. The customer needs a new application to acquire and calculate data for the RC car as it runs on the dynamometer chassis and display the data to the user. The challenge was to improve the current VB application by re-creating it in LabVIEW 8.0. The new application would also use National Instruments USB-6009 data acquisition card instead of duplicating the old hardware setup. The application would acquire four analog input channels to gather information on a remote control (RC) car as it is running on a dynamometer chassis. The new application would also contain some additional calculations and ease of use features.
Project Description:With LabVIEW, Data Science Automation was easily able to create an application that had the same look and feel of the original VB application. Using NI’s USB-6009 DAQ board, setting up and acquiring signals took only a matter of minutes thanks to the ease of use of the USB interface. The acquisition is configured to acquire 4 differential signals: a photo transistor to measure the dynamometer revolutions, a magnetic sensor to measure the RC car wheel revolutions, battery/motor voltage and a shunt resistor to measure the battery/motor current. The default acquisition rate is 12kS/s.
Robotic Control for Reactor Verification
Project Abstract: The development of a robust, Windows-based operation tool to control multiple robots used in generator testing and diagnostics. The motion of each robot had to be controlled, and each robot generated several analog, digital, and video outputs that needed to be monitored, logged, and presented by the system.
Project Description: Data Science Automation developed a scaleable, reliable application using LabWindows/CVI to control robotic movement via third-party driver interaction, to acquire data using National Instruments (NI) data and image acquisition products, and to process and present data using built-in LabWindows/CVI functionality as well as supplemental NI vision and NI audio-video interleave (AVI) software.
Robotic Testing of Next-Generation Fuses
Project Abstract: Create an adaptable motion based test system capable of resistance testing multiple thin-film safety fuses for a medical device in order to drastically reduce long test-times incurred by manually checking sheets of hundreds of fuses with a hand-held digital multi-meter.
Project Description: Combining the ruggedness of the embedded cDAQ-9136 and NI Ethernet Steppers with commercially available off-the-shelf motion stages, DSA was able to create a modular and adaptable thin-film fuse tester that could easily be adapted for changing fuse panel layouts.
Scalable, Interchangeable PCB Test Platform for LED Lighting
Project Abstract: A leading manufacturer of automotive lighting products was under pressure to launch production for a new series of lighting products, but needed to quickly test the printed circuit boards that formed the core of the LED lighting assembly. In addition, they needed a test platform that could seamlessly support multiple, panelized PCB designs without requiring personnel to modify software. Also, the risk of operators attaching the wrong fixture to the test system and damaging the unit under test needed to be mitigated.
The lighting manufacturer chose Data Science Automation, a premier NI Alliance Partner, to provide a turnkey solution for their lighting PCBs with a scalable LabVIEW-based software application and an interchangeable set of front-end test-fixtures. DSA was chosen based on reputation and a past history of providing successful test platforms to the client in question.
Project Description: Combine custom software developed in LabVIEW with NI CompactDAQ, bed-of nails test fixtures, custom DSA electronics, and a unique method of fixture auto detection to produce a foolproof, accurate, scalable PCB test platform.
Small Scale Automated Steel Coatings Plant
Project Abstract: The customer needed to test the process for their electro-plating application of chemicals onto steel as it would be run through a mill. This required a smaller setup in one of their test labs to help refine their technique.
Project Description:This problem was solved using LabVIEW and a cDAQ chassis to read temperatures and interlocks and control a small scale pilot plant that could be operated in manual or automatic mode.
Smart Programming Preserves Equipment Value
Project Abstract: A manufacturer of laser toner medium had a problem: They wanted to collect analytical data related to the particle size of the toner they produced. However, lacking internal networking capabilities, the instrument making the particle measurements was incapable to passing the data it collected to the SPC analysis software needed to analyze the data. The solution was a program running in the system tray of a computer connected to the test instrument. This application reads the instrument’s proprietary output files, extracts the significant data and writes it to a database that the SPC application can access.
Project Description: Leverage LabVIEW’s connectivity capabilities: Taking advantage of the .NET framework, Data Science Automation (DSA) reduced the user interface to an icon in the System Tray. Additionally, LabVIEW’s support for ActiveX allowed the application to directly access the built-in ADO drivers to insert the collected data directly into the SPC database.
Solar Module Quantum Efficiency Characterization System
Project Abstract: Photovoltaic (PV) module designs are tailored to optimize the conversion of light to electricity under a broad range of conditions. Material and production quality are critical. As designs and manufacturing processes are optimized, it is crucial that characterization of the quantum efficiency be made to correlate the changes. The measurements here leveraged a Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) spectrometer. Multiple light sources were needed to provide sufficient signal in all wavelengths of interest.
Project Description: Integrate several scientific instruments, off-the-shelf software applications and light sources into a flexible architecture with an intuitive user interface that requires minimal training and reduces test time from nearly fifteen minutes to less than three minutes.
Speeding Development of an FPGA-based Medical Device Using a Hardware Simulator
Project Abstract: Major contract to develop the software for a sophisticated medical treatment system that takes the blood from a patient, removes unwanted components, and returns the purified blood to the patient over the course of several hours. Because of the importance of patient safety, the system is being developed with stringent testing protocols in place. For rapid development, LabVIEW was selected as the development system because of its ease in deploying to multiple target processors, front panel customization capabilities, and parallel architecture. In addition, software was developed in parallel with hardware to accelerate the product development, so software needed to be tested without the hardware in place.
Project Description: We designed a hardware simulation board with voltage bridges and switches to simulate the behavior of the actual hardware, and coupled it with an application running in parallel with the primary code to report the actual values measured by the sbRIO.
Squeezing the Most Out of a Dentifrice Filling Application
Project Abstract:The main goal of this system was to replace a Wonderware based data collection system due to the long post test data transfer times. Dentifrice tube filling can occur in under one second and the customer desired a system that could collect data at 10 millisecond (ms) intervals in synchronization with the existing motion control system that was also collecting data at 10 ms intervals. Not only did these two systems need to coordinate their data collection, but the data from the motion control system had to be collected via MODBUS TCP and packaged with the analog transducer data. While all this is occurring the system also needs to act as an analog signal splitter and replicate the analog input data to a legacy HMI system utilizing a WAGO I/O system.
Project Description:Data Science Automation was able to create a system with custom timing and data collection that provided real-time data collection thus eliminating the post-test data transfer. DSA leveraged the technology of the Compact-RIO platform and the built-in LabVIEW TCP protocol and the free NI Modbus Library to provide this solution.
Stretching the Limits of LabVIEW
Project Abstract:A polymer manufacturer was at the mercy of an outside testing facility to determine the strength characteristics of new polymer compounds. Using this contractor test facility meant long and costly delays between the development and manufacturing of high quality plastic polymers. To replace the outside test facility, the effort would have to incorporate stress bearing motion while acquiring and analyzing loads, temperatures, electrical conductivity and birefringence data in a manner in which small quantities of polymers could be tested periodically during development.
Project Description:Leveraging modular LabVIEW-based software architecture, Data Science Automation (DSA) has created a system utilizing National Instruments acquisition and communication boards to monitor and control signals containing loads, electrical stresses, temperatures and birefringence data.
Project Abstract: The purpose of this solution is to increase efficiency by decreasing the setup time for each test, increase reliability in the results by reducing the chance for human error, and to incorporate a user interface that is easy to use.
Project Description: Data Science Automation has developed a LabVIEW based solution to incorporate data acquisition, control, and sophisticated analysis that incorporate RS-232 and GPIB interfaces to Instron and Daytronic devices.
Test Sequencer for Handheld Consumer Electronics
Project Abstract: To test a handheld consumer product for LED, Bluetooth, vibration motor, and analog output functionality as it comes off a manufacturing line in less than 2.5 minutes.
Project Description: We combined several cDAQ components and a USB DAQ board with NI-controlled external USB-connected hardware to interact with the Device Under Test (DUT), simulate the expected signals, and test all aspects of its function.
TestStand/LabVIEW as a Reusable Framework for Automated Medical Device Testing Systems
Project Abstract: Replace an aging C-based test executive that is a maintenance nightmare and does not integrate with other applications or devices easily.
Project Description: Build a customized, reusable TestStand/LabVIEW Framework that meets medical device functional testing and FDA requirements.
Temperature Controlled High Throughput Diode Tester
Project Abstract: A fully automated test stand was developed using NI LabVIEW to control, monitor and log all measurements of all device at all required temperatures. Groups of 400 diodes (up to 800 total) can be tested during a single test cycle. If using two groups, one set can be tested while another set is being loaded. Report files record all readings from each device and are grouped by diode part number.
Project Description: A test station was developed using LabVIEW (Figure 1) that is capable of controlling a temperature chamber, a pair of SMU (Source Measurement Unit) and a set of custom built multiplexers controlled via SPI interfaces.
Thermal Spectrometer Signal Analysis
Project Abstract: Develop a Data acquisition system to acquire data from an Ocean Optics S 2000-TR Spectrometer and analyze the data to determine the correct temperature based upon the light spectrum. This application is needed to check the temperature of a molten vessel of metal used to produce the product as well as verify the calibration of single use thermocouple like devices being produced. The need was to replace a method of using specially calibrated single use thermocouples during the quality testing of samples from a standard production run. By using the spectrometer instead of the older method a savings would accrue by only needing to use two calibrated thermocouples to calibrate the equipment programmatically and use it through out the day with multiple samples from the multiple production runs.
Project Description: Data Science Automation, Inc. (DSA) used National Instruments (NI) LabVIEW software to create the program. The program utilized the math functionality that is already provided in the LV library. The first step in the process was to remove any wavelengths below 500 nanometers and above 1000 nanometers. It was also very important to keep the amplitude between 3500 and 3900 to insure good signal to noise separation as well as not allowing the signal to become saturated. This was achieved by increasing or decreasing the integration time for the spectrometer. See Figure #1 to look at the raw spectrum shown as a red trace on the graph along with the integration time indicator and amplitude ok indicator.
The Stress of a Turn
Project Abstract: During the development of a new floor cleaner the manufacturing team needed to test the new designs for their steering column assembles. The new steering columns needed to be tested to verify their ability to withstand the normal forces the column would be subjected to throughout its expected lifespan. This testing would be done in two phases - during the design phase and during the subsystem manufacturing phase. This would help the manufacture handle any issues before the parts were installed in the new product. The fixture would also go be used as a quality test system once the units were in full production to help maintain the level of quality needed to ensure that the product would not fail during operation.
Project Description: Create a new test station using LabVIEW that automates motion control and data collection migrating from the prior hydraulic valving method used along with hand written data.
The Sweet Sound of High-Quality Microphone Testing
Project Abstract: A microphone teststand manufacturer needed software to validate proprietary microphone acquisition hardware. In addition, the application required a unique hardware configuration to match the microphone teststand’s unique physical structure. The system was implemented so that it was flexible enough to support present and future teststand designs.
Project Description: Data Science Automation met this challenge by leveraging a modular LabVIEW-based software architecture with USB acquisition devices. The data processing was accomplished using LabVIEW’s Sound and Vibration toolkit.
The Work of a Breath
Project Abstract: Determining the amount of work it takes for the human body to breathe through a respiratory protective device (RPD).
Project Description: Developing the new algorithm in LabVIEW using the built in signal processing VI made it fast and easy to get the data needed to reveal the work of breath on an existing NI-based system.
Touch Panel Interface for Wireless Lighting Control
Project Abstract: The customer had previously invested in custom I/O controller boards and an accompanying programming environment as part of a building HVAC control system, and had kept the software on these boards fairly general in order to try to facilitate reuse and adaptation later for an integrated HVAC and lighting control system.
Project Description: Create custom software to access set points for lighting control relays from touch-panel Windows CE devices, integrating these devices into an existing MODBUS-based lighting and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) control system. We leveraged NI’s comprehensive and user-friendly MODBUS Library for LabVIEW to create a modified protocol which allows multiple devices reading from a single slave process, while still maintaining compatibility with existing MODBUS slave processes.
Tread & Sidewall Measurement in Tires
Project Abstract: A high-throughput tire testing system that acquires more accurate tread and sidewall measurements (every 0.2 mm) and offers more flexible analysis options was desired. The system also required alignment of X and Y sensors using Zero alignment mechanical Zig.
Project Description: Data Science Automation replaced an obsolete machine with a custom NI LabVIEW, NI Motion and laser DAQ integrated solution. Tire shape/profile data is collected significantly faster, displayed in real-time and saved in a file which can be easily interpreted by any software application. The application was developed with LabVIEW 6.0.2, NI PCI-7334 motion control board and Compumotor EAC drive to handle X-Y motion of tread and sidewall laser sensors and acquire analog data from the sensors using the analog inputs available in PCI-7334 motion control board.
Ultra Sonic Weld Inspection
Project Abstract: A major electronic manufacturer had an existing measurement system, but wanted to implement the visual display and communications ability of LabVIEW, without confusing the end user with too many system functions. DSA was able to use the user friendly device communication of LabVIEW over USB to obtain data and communicate with the other plant devices digitally. The modularity and reusability of LabVIEW enabled a new customizable user interface, superior to the original display capabilities of the control program, while limiting the user interface to a sleek design without excess system-level access. LabVIEW was also able detect the system configuration to self-adjust its Operator display, to eliminate unused controls and utilize all screen space.
Project Description: Develop an interface and control system that would display complex pipe weld inspection data, and allow user communication to a USB VXI chassis and USB DIO module, custom DSP communication and interface with existing control programs.
Upgrading a Digital Breathing Machine for Respirator Testing
Project Abstract:Convert an older piece of equipment using outdated hardware to a modern piece of test equipment. Make it more versatile and adaptable allowing it to simulate different types of breathing conditions.
Project Description: Use National Instruments USB-6341 and LabVIEW 2013 to create an application that would allow the user to select the correct breathing pattern to effectively test developmental respirators.
Universal Control Simulator System
Project Abstract:Mack Trucks/Volvo has developed a new electronic truck architecture. In order to test the system components a new digital simulator needed to be developed to replace the existing analog simulator. The analog simulator was not capable of validating the interaction between all the Electronic Control Units (ECUs) and did not have the flexibility to test the wide variety of vehicle setups.
Project Description: Data Science Automation proposed a phased approach to design and develop a test simulator to validate and confirm performance of Mack’s new electronic architecture. The application was run on an industrial computer with PCI cards to connect to the 255 channels of I/O. The application interfaced with a Mathworks Simulink vehicle model for simulated control of I/O. Individual screens were created for start-up, driving, vehicle model, simulator, Engine ECU, Vehicle ECU, anti-lock braking system, gauge cluster, simulator configuration, and setup configuration.
Using LabVIEW in a Localizable Medical Device
Project Abstract: A medical device for treating cancer controls several motors and valves, and relies on heavy interaction with the caregiver to safely treat the patient.
Project Description: The flexibility of LabVIEW’s structures and patterns allowed DSA to create a module with high cohesion that makes translating captions, warnings, and user instructions easy to scale and maintain.
Urethane Shock Absorber Production Testing
Project Abstract: The flexibility of NI’s Compact FieldPoint line of products allowed for multiple options in choosing which modules would be best for this application. The cFP-2120 Real-Time Controller was selected because of its storage capabilities and high speed. (See Figure 1) We chose to go use the cFP-AI-100 because of the resolution available for the analog measurements the project called for, the cFP-DIO-550 for flexibility in providing digital inputs and outputs and the cFP-RLY-423 to handle the directional control valve for the hydraulic pump which in turn applies the hydraulic pressure to the cylinder press for testing the urethane shock absorbers.
Project Description: Developing a LabVIEW RealTime application deployed to a National Instruments Compact Fieldpoint (cFP) controller and displays a user interface through a web browser remote panel. The application would also log test data to a comma separated value (.csv) file which would be easily retrievable thru the conveniently built-in FTP server on the cFP controller.
Video Content Analysis Using EEG Monitoring
Project Abstract: Capita Research Group, Inc. designs and markets systems and services that measure psychophysiological engagement, receptiveness, and communication effectiveness. Technology licensed to Capita from NASA’s Langley Field Research & Development Center has been significantly enhanced to allow an Engagement Index (EI) to be formed from EEG data to quantify how involved a subject is with his or her current task. Capita uses this EI as a real-time, objective measure of how well a media clip holds a person’s attention. Data Science Automation developed a PC-based, customized LabVIEW application to automate the collection, analysis, and presentation of the results of this media analysis for Capita. This system allows the operator to specify the number of subjects for a given trial, to configure the data acquisition and processing algorithms, and to select either digitized video clips (AVI files) or analog video input (from an S-VHS capable VCR). The data acquisition, video playback, data processing, graphical display, and file output operations are synchronized to result in a complete real-time system. In addition to the real-time function, the capability to merge independently collected data files for simultaneous analysis, results display, and video playback at some later date has been implemented as well.
Project Description: DSA developed a customized LabVIEW-based application was created to automate and synchronize the playback of either digital or analog video clips; the acquisition, analysis, and presentation of EEG signals; and the archival of raw data and converted results to files for future retrieval and post processing – all in real time.
Vision System to Count Microbial Bacteria Colonies
Project Abstract: Data Science Automation created a custom solution with a flexible user interface. The counting of the microbial bacteria required some intensive processing; therefore, LabVIEW and the Vision Development Module were the perfect choice.
Project Description: A customer was currently counting microbial bacteria colonies by hand and transcribing the counts in a notebook. The process was very time consuming and prone to transcription errors. The counting process was required to observe the effects anti-bacterial medicine had on the microbial bacteria samples in an R&D laboratory.
Vision Executive for Production
Project Abstract: A LabVIEW Test Executive program was created that can load specific vision inspection algorithms developed using VBAI 2010 to perform various inspections of device features. The system was designed for flexible inspection configuration allowing use of any VBAI inspection file with any of the system’s eight camera images.
Project Description: Replace a troublesome legacy vision inspection system that used two Cognex smart cameras to inspect the top of a 3-dimensional rectangular product for label presence and label characters with a new vision inspection system that can inspect five sides of the same part and perform a multitude of inspections.
Water Pump Bearing Durability Test Stand
Project Abstract: The manufacturers of pumps must pay special attention to validating their models of bearing life with experimental data. There are several indicators of bearing degradation. The increase of bearing vibration is a better indicator than the absolute level of vibration. Temperature, torque and the ability to control load and speed are secondary indicators. A flexible system was developed to permit the concurrent testing of eight bearings while independently comparing their current condition to allowable failure limits.
Project Description: DSA created a solution that independently monitored and controlled two test tables, each with four bearings. Each test table rotated the bearings using a single motor with a belt drive to the bearings. The vibration of each bearing was monitored using accelerometers wired to an NI-PCI-4472. All other signal I/O was routed through the NI PCI-6229 multifunction board.
Wrapping-up a Nasty Packaging Problem
Project Abstract: In order to increase production line throughput, a manufacturer of injection molded pharmaceutical parts wanted to develop an automated packaging system that could service two independent production lines. Data Science Automation developed a robust automated packaging system that collected the finished parts from Star Automation robots four parts at a time. The parts were collected until thirty-two parts were waiting in a marshalling area, at that time the new automation system guided the parts to a pick-up area serviced by a two-axis picking system that grabbed the parts and placed them in a box.
Project Description: Data Science Automation designed a single automated system that interacted with two independently running production lines. The system utilized a Compact FieldPoint Ethernet module from National Instruments to control a central receiving and packaging system, the core of which was a two-axis motion system.
Wellsite Data Node Configuration System
Project Abstract: Using LabVIEW, Data Science Automation was able to create an application that allowed the user to select the type of equipment and guide the operator through setting the parameters needed, and then applying the correct code to the real-time target. The application selected the type of real-time target provided.
Project Description: The client needed to have a complete system to guide a non-technical operator through the process of installing an application onto a real-time target based on the type of equipment it would be controlling or monitoring. The application also needed to allow the operator to test the installation.
Mini Well site Pressure Pumping Monitoring
Project Abstract: A drilling services company needed to provide data on the operation of a job site to their customers around the world in real time. This would allow the end user and the well site to communicate specific items of interest to each other. The application also needed to be flexible to allow the end user to take a closer look at the data they were receiving. The ability of having data transmitted to the end user allows for companies to monitor the drilling process without the need of having groups of engineers onsite around the world.
Project Description: To meet these requirements, Data Science Automation developed an application using shared variables to transmit data and value parameters over the internet. The monitoring application would allow the end user to see the data and present it in a manner of their choosing.
A Wing Deployment Test System to Ensure Missile System Readiness
Project Abstract: During storage of missile systems, various aspects of their readiness can sometimes degrade over time – sometimes resulting in launch failures or inaccurate targeting. One of the primary failure mechanisms is due to degradation of the wing deployment subsystem. The development of an efficient method to characterize the readiness of the wing deployment subsystems for a broad range of missile systems allowed their readiness to be validated and prevents operational failures in the field.
Project Description: The solution required the implementation of a system, calibration process. and recording of the operator and the date of calibration. The system is normally calibrated once at the beginning of each day. The system was required to acquire the wing release force and the wing deployment angle as a function of time. The maximum release force occurred at the point of wing deployment and was compared to a tolerance. Once deployment was initiated, the time required for full deployment was determined and compared to a tolerance.
Zinc Air Fuel Cell Test System
Project Abstract: During the design phase of the application, it was determined that each fuel cell had to be tested and monitored independently of any other testing that may be taking place. It was also determined at design time that all of the functionality present in the Manual mode of operation was required in the automatic mode. Another detail that required special attention was that all of the electronic loads shared a single GPIB port as the communication medium.
Project Description: The LabVIEW State Diagram Editor was used to develop the structure of a LV 8.2 application that made use of set of re-entrant drivers developed to control the Amrel loads that provided virtual loads required to test the fuel cells. Both automatic and manual mode of operation were required to allow the users to test new products and design and to allow for customized scheduling of load changes to simulated prolonged use.