Distributed Measurement Systems

Sometimes, what you want to measure isn't small or confined to just one place.

How do you effectively measure from locations across a lab, building, site or even country?

Distributed measurement systems spread measurement capability over a large area. You can then install measurement nodes across a large system or network of assets to understand how it is performing.

Sounds impressive? It is, although it’s not quite as simple as it sounds.

You must consider several key areas when designing distributed measurement systems:

Distributed System Concerns


Computers aren’t great timekeepers. You need a way to guarantee that all internal clocks within the system are synchronised. It’s no good if data’s being captured simultaneously at different sites if one system is stating 10.00am and another 10.07am. It’s crucial because, once the data has been captured, there’s often no way of retrospectively verifying this.


There are hundreds of ways of communicating data, depending on the task and situation – and choosing the optimal one to match a given scenario often requires extensive experience.


How sensitive is the data? Protection from hacking – data snooping, unauthorised access and loss of system control – is vital, especially if you need to use the internet for data transmission.


How many systems do you have and, ultimately, need? This will often affect the choices of how you collect and view data.

Making 1:1 work successfully is relatively straightforward, but how reassured would you be if you needed to install multiple systems?

We’ll build a system you can rely on

At Wiresmith Technology, we’ve worked on many distributed measurement systems.

We can design and build measurement software distributed across multiple locations: saving you time, ensuring that nothing is missed, and, most importantly, guaranteeing success.

For example, we’ve created a distributed system for National Grid that, on completion, will comprise 135 measurement systems across England and Wales:

Peter Haigh Power Systems Engineer, National Grid

National Grid Power Quality Monitoring

Initially, I wasn’t sure if Wiresmith would be able to combine the many disciplines required to deliver our complex integrated system, but after a short time of working with James on our project, the breadth and depth of multi-disciplinary skill that Wiresmith brought to it became apparent. We were also pleased that additional expertise could be brought in as required.

James was very professional in handling our requirements and was always on hand when we needed him. An agile method of developing software was adopted. This suited our needs as we were defining our specification as we explored options for building our system. It enabled us to work quickly and to improve our system incrementally. We would recommend Wiresmith Technology’s services as they have delivered what we required to a high quality of workmanship

We can help you build a system that you trust. Whether it is simply advising on system design or programming the devices, server and/or data inspection system, we’ll make sure you get the data that you need.

Such a system is rarely written entirely in one language. To provide you with a fast and cost-effective solution, we’ll source, combine and configure whatever is most appropriate for your project: including LabVIEW, JavaScript and off-the-shelf technologies such as SQL Server, Datafinder and DIAdem.


How will I know if you’re any good?!

Requesting external support can be unsettling, particularly when you don’t have expertise in that specific area. We can relate to that as we’ve used external contractors ourselves to support us on languages that we’re less familiar with.

Programming capability is especially hard to capture objectively or through an absolute value, so we would invite you to:

Review our credentials in About Us.
Read our testimonials.
Approach National Instruments and ask them about us. Because of our former working relationship with NI, it’s highly likely that your local field engineer will know of us and the quality of our work – and be happy to give you their independent opinion.

Won’t you always want to use LabVIEW?

Even though LabVIEW is our most productive environment, 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.

Why does the NI hardware cost more than other measurement hardware?

With the proliferation of cheap measurement systems in the hobbyist sector, a compact RIO may appear expensive.

However, there are several key advantages over a number of cheaper platforms:

The measurement quality is laboratory-grade, with excellent signal conditioning and 24 bit options throughout. Fully traceable calibration is also an option.
The processors and OS are extremely powerful, and the FPGA offers unprecedented signal processing capability.
The hardware is robust and durable, designed to last for many years.
Typically, no custom electronic hardware is needed, meaning there’s no additional time required or cost for:
Maintenance of design knowledge

What Next?

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