Engineering on the fringe of big data

As test engineers, we are driven by data. It motivates everything we do. The faster we can gather, manage and analyze vast amounts of data, the more effective and efficient we become at understanding the stresses that tax modern machinery.

That is why I’m excited to share some of the recent advances Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM) has made as it relates to our large channel synchronized count monitoring systems.

In many ways, we are hitting the extreme fringes in terms of gathering big data, and these developments have all been made possible by our proprietary iTestSystem software. (Download a free version of our base software.)

Test Engineering Extremes using iTestSystem and NI cDAQ

  • Collecting and managing terabytes of data during month’s long test
  • Synchronizing 25 NI 9188 cDAQ chassis to collect more than a thousand (1000) channels of strain, acceleration, temperature, voltage and current data
  • Gathering data from on-board systems such as CAN, CCP and customized machine PLC protocols in the same data file as analog data
  • Collecting high voltage and contact temperature data using isolated amplifiers at one megahertz (1MHz)

Driven by the opportunity to engineer tests for both the rail industry and heavy machinery manufacturers, our team has been able to collect, manage and monitor terabytes of synchronized data during month’s long tests.

The process includes designing and installing data acquisition (DAQ) systems to gather more than a thousand channels of strain, acceleration, temperature, voltage and current data — all at once. Where before we had gathered a couple hundred channels of synced data, we’ve now passed the thousand-count mark. (Incidentally, the manufacturer of our C-DAQ hardware platform informed us that our high-channel-count tests are more than double any other application of which they are aware.)

Beyond the volume of channels, we’ve also been able to harvest data from high voltage sources at extreme data rates. One of our colleagues even used iTestSystem to collect 16 channels of data from high voltage sources at 500kHz.

In addition, our engineers have been able to run these tests while at the same time gathering data from on-board systems such as CAN, CCP and customized machine PLC protocols — an advance that allows our clients to gain an even more complete picture of the precise environment at work in their machinery.

— ITM President Tim Carlier