Automated measurement systems use data acquisition hardware to capture data from sensors attached to engineering systems.
Most new product developments come in two ways:
In the first case, you need to know that you are improving on what came before. You will also need to convince your customers/managers/peers that this is the case.
In the second case, you need to prove this new concept is an improvement over existing technology for customers to buy in.
In both cases data is king.
In the early days of development, a simulation is a favourite tool for this. You can generate a lot of data, very quickly and iterate on your designs.
At some point though, you must reach the physical world, and you may need to:
Automated measurement systems are used in these cases to give you the measurement data you need to move your product forward. At Wiresmith Technology, we can help you put this in place.
An automated measurement system consists of data acquisition hardware and attached software.
The hardware is attached to sensors to measure physical phenomena such as temperature, pressure or voltage.
The software will be capturing this data with little human intervention and analysing, displaying and storing the information so that it can be used to inform engineers.
Sensors are attached to the system of interest to convert physical phenomenon to eletrical signals
Data Acquisition (DAQ) hardware converts these electrical signals to a digital form using an Analog to Digitial Converter (ADC)
Software running on a PC or embedded target gets data from the DAQ hardware and can analyse, display or store the measurement readings.
Data (or analysed results) is inspected by you to improve your understanding of the system or prove to others how the system performs.
Our specialty is providing you with the software component. We have in house expertise in completing this in LabVIEW.
We are also very knowledgeable about the other elements. Through our partnership with National Instruments we can recommend and provide you with their data acquisition hardware. We can also work with hardware partners on a turn-key solution.
Automation is valuable to reducing errors and expanding capabilities of measurements. We think of there being three levels of automated measurement systems (+ 1 with no automation):
Level 0 - No Automation
The sensors may have manual readouts or paper logging systems (such as XY plotters). An operator must read and collate these outputs manually at specific intervals. Often little or no electronic record of the measurement exists.
These are prone to reading errors and are extremely limited in the rate of measurement that can be captured and interpreted.
Level 1 - Data Loggers
A level 1 system means that you connect your sensors to a simple data logger. At specific intervals, the data logger records measurements to an electronic file which you can collate and analyse manually or automatically after logging has completed. In these systems, you want to be aware of logging interval, logging duration and system calibration limitations.
Level 2 - Data Loggers and Online Analysis
These are the most common systems we work on at Wiresmith Technology. They build on the level 1 data loggers by including some analysis to extract the useful information from the data captured. Examples might be calculating system efficiency or detecting events.
Level 3 - Measurement and Automation Systems
These systems build on the previous levels to do some useful automation in one of two ways:
At the higher levels you can achieve:
There are many data loggers and data logging software on the market, so why would you pay for a custom solution?
If these aren't of interest to you, then you may not need custom software! Using off-the-shelf software is usually cheaper and faster to get started if it meets your requirements.
If you're not sure, then get in touch, and we will let you know if we think there is a benefit to custom software in your application.
Our experience with these systems mean there are a number of ways that we can help you to get the data you need:
Wiresmith Technology provided an easy working relationship with good feedback on ideas and prompt turnaround times on development. They tracked the work backlog effectively allowing the correct items to be prioritised without losing sight of additional ideas and features.
The complete hardware and software packages offered by NI in conjunction with Wiresmith Technology has increased test efficiency and accuracy. It has also given Lontra the ability to further develop and optimise data analysis simulation techniques for future product design.
We consider ourselves Systems Engineers.
With a comprehensive background in engineering, we’re yet to encounter a domain for which we’ve not been able to develop a valuable system.
We’re always mindful of your insight and expertise which is why we constantly liaise with you and perform regular demos and testing to make sure we’re on track.
Even though LabVIEW is our most productive environment (read why we think it is great here), it’s only one of our areas of expertise and can’t solve everything.
We’ve also developed expertise in web-based technologies and have working knowledge of other, less mainstream environments. This allows us to bring in additional expertise as required and integrate those solutions with LabVIEW.
In terms of writing custom software, we do that only when the job demands it. Often, we’re able to use our experience of other interfacing technologies to recommend and install an off-the-shelf solution.