Automation Control Systems FAQs
Test & Measurement and Control Systems FAQs
I am a test engineer in charge of production for a medical device manufacturer in Boston, MA. Our new product requires
additional testing and we are limited by our current test system. Can you modify our existing system so that it can
accommodate our new testing requirements?
Yes, we have retrofitted many systems in the past and we can provide hardware and software solutions that integrates seamlessly
with your existing system. Once we understand your system better, we can modify your hardware to include any additional sensors
needed, and add the appropriate software capabilities. Most of our clients send us any documentation for their new requirements,
and if available, any existing documentation detailing the current test system. This allows us to better understand how we will
modify with minimal disruption. We are happy to train your team to use the new software most effectively.
We have a control application that requires deterministic 100 ms loop rates in order to achieve a pre-defined temperature profile.
Depending on the experiment, the system will need to handle many different types of temperature profiles. We also need a very user
friendly set up screen to be able to create these profiles. Can you develop a system to handle these requirements?
Yes, we have created many applications where we de-couple deterministic events from the user-interface using a combination of
real-time hardware and the familiar PC environment. Software running on the real-time system can be clocked at a specified rate,
where you’re guaranteed that events occur at a known clock pulse. One method to achieve your application goals is to use a PID
control algorithm. On the rising edge of a clock pulse, the temperature of the system is read, processed (using a PID or custom
algorithm), and then the system will update the output variable all within the 100 ms window. On the next clock pulse, the same
sequence of events will occur. We have software tools that will allow us to determine whether the task can finish within the 100
ms window, so the algorithms can be adjusted accordingly. Because the user-interface is non-deterministic, this section of the
software will run on a standard PC operating system. There are a rich set of tools available for us to use in order to create an
intuitive user environment. The user is completely unaware of the lower level real-time system.
I work for an engine assembly plant in Western NY. We need a test system that will functionally test an engine manifold assembly
for leak, flow, balance and system response. Depending on the part number, we require different set up requirements and different
test limits for each test step. In some cases, we’ll require multiple instances of the same test step, like the flow test, but with
different set up parameters. Do you have any tools to be able to quickly create a test system with these requirements?
Yes. Since we work with many different companies and industries, we have been able to create a library of tools that allow us to
leverage common tasks. Therefore, we have software that we can use as a starting point on many applications. While your application
is unique, there are common tasks that are used in most successful applications. As the end user, you will benefit from our toolset
because these items have been tested. Also, the development effort for the application framework is minimized. Our existing framework
allows for the end user to create a sequence of test steps and associate it with a product part number. Each test step in the sequence
can be identical, but with different setup parameters and limits. This is an example of a common "starting point" that we would use in
the application described above. Our main efforts will be concentrated on developing the details around what each test step is supposed
to do and inserting it into our existing framework.