Calibrated Accelerated Life Test Platform
By Dillon Glissmann, DISTek® Integration, Inc.
Develop an adaptable controls system capable of performing accelerated life testing on hydraulic cylinders.
DISTek set out to create a flexible hardware platform that, when combined with NI VeriStand® and LabVIEW®, could be configured and expanded by the end user for the implementation of various test scenarios. The customer had been dedicating multiple test benches to continuously perform different tests on these cylinders. The majority of the hardware and software on these stands was obsolete and no longer supported by the manufactures.
Management took the initiative to update these test benches and selected DISTek as a partner whose expertise could both guide them through the process and provide them with a quality solution.
The final solution needed to be capable of performing all existing test functionality as well as expanding to accommodate potential future needs. New desired functionality included the ability for closed loop control of the system, modifiable tables for dynamic loading and response, and capabilities for proportional control of hydraulic valves. Scalability and flexibility were required for accepting amplified and non-amplified transducers of varying types. Adaptability was required to allow for the creation of new test scenarios and to incorporate models both simulated and created from field data. Users would also need to be able to configure feedback characteristics for varying testing profiles.
The System Components:
The final modular solution consists of three primary hardware components: the main enclosure serving as the primary control, an EtherCAT distributed IO enclosure, and a hydraulic manifold with discreet and proportional valves. NI VeriStand and LabVIEW provide the necessary software functionality.
The main enclosure serves as the operator work station and houses a networked PC, real-time controller, and IO for monitoring safety devices and controlling tower lighting. The EtherCAT I/O can be moved around the lab floor to better accommodate various tests and contains reconfigurable IO, sensor conditioning and sensor power. The hydraulic manifold is constructed of a combination of discreet and proportional valves for flexibility.
NI VeriStand supplies a real-time client/server framework, configuration based setup, support for models, customizable interfaces and input/output channel mapping as turn key features. NI LabVIEW allows for customized user interface controls, test execution, and signal abstraction.
An Adaptable Solution
The general purpose testing platform that DISTek delivered was designed with adaptability in mind, so as to better accommodate both the customer’s current and future needs,
Scalability is achieved at the hardware level through the use of EtherCAT and I/O modules which can be daisy-chained together for increased channel counts. At a software level these additional channels can be accessed by updating the signal mappings in a configuration based screen. A large number of different types of channels are available for transducers and actuators on the system for increased flexibility. Through use of the onboard FPGA the functionality of these channels can be specialized for specific tasks. Natively the system supports high speed quadrature encoder inputs with noise reduction as well as high speed frequency outputs.
The modular software architecture of the system along with VeriStand allows for extending the system to accommodate new test scenarios, new models and test profiles. VeriStand also ships with a full API for accessing its functionality. This API can be used to call IO through the VeriStand client/server architecture, create custom tools or new applications. Maintaining the modularity throughout the software, individual software components handle calibration, lookup tables, the operator interface and additional features, allowing for the modification of existing features as well as the ability to add additional features.
Modular and Customizable
To create a quality solution that would grow with the customer needs, DISTek architected an adaptable and scalable system using EtherCAT and NI VeriStand. NI VeriStand brought together the necessary custom LabVIEW components to create the final test scenario to meet the needs of this satisfied customer.
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