FFFFFantastic ITM Team Building Weekend: Norris Lake, TN

ITM held its an annual team building over the weekend of October 11th; fun, fish, food, fire, and firsts ensued.

I would like to thank ITM owner Tim Carlier and our host Ryan Welker for a fantastic weekend at Norris Lake, TN.  It was great to hang out and get to know our team outside of work.  Now let’s get to all those Fs.

Food, Fun & Firsts.  The weather was amazing on Friday (mid 70’s).  After everyone arrived and a lunch of grilled hamburgers, hotdogs, brats, and grilled sausages prepared by Ryan, we all went for a four (not three) hour boat tour of the lake.  On the tour, Ryan, Todd, RJ, and Zach all took turns wakeboarding.  It looked like some of the wipeouts hurt more than others.  Some of the boaders reported bruising and extreme soreness.  To alleviate their aching muscles, we pulled into a secluded cove and floated with life vests in the soothing 76 degree water.  While floating and storytelling, we learned a few things about each other, among them, that this was Zach’s first time boating and water skiing and that no one believes my stories.

More Food, Fishing & Fire. After returning to the dock and another Zach first, some of us tried our hand at fishing while Ryan again cooked for us.  Dinner was salad, grilled steak, baked beans and baked fresh blue gill.  After dinner, everyone (almost) headed down to the patio by the lake for drinks and relaxation around the fire ring.  I hear that it was a late night around the hot fire and that the team likes story telling.

More Fun, Fishing, Fire. Saturday, we woke to a brisk, breezy, and drizzly morning and Todd sleeping on the porch.  Ryan fixed us goetta, bacon, and eggs which were delicious.  While Ryan was cooking, I went trolling for fish in my fishing kayak equipped with a fish finder.  Apparently, fish like to stay as far away from my boat as possible.  The fish finder said they were at least fifty feet below my boat.  My excursion was abruptly cut short by a monsoon.  Luckily, I was only 50 ft from the dock, so I only had to empty one inch of water from my kayak.

As we waited for the fog to clear, some of the team decided to turn fishing into a competition.  Todd ended up winning the tournament because he caught a turtle and the rock that I caught didn’t count.  The teams fishing tally: 9 Blue Gills, 1 Channel Catfish, 1 Red Eared Slider (turtle), 1 pair of corroded $400 Ray Ban sunglasses, and a rock.

At three o’clock the dense fog that drifted in after the fishing tournament finally lifted and the remaining team went on a boat cruise to the big water of Norris Lake.  With the temperature in the upper 50’s this ride was a little different than the previous day.  It was the first time I wore flannel with my swim trunks.  RJ was the only one brave enough to wakeboard, because we convinced him that he would be warm while in the water.  From his face while he boarded and the goose bumps when he got back on the boat, I don’t think the warm water helped.

After the boat ride and another great dinner (slow cooked ribs) by chef Ryan, we all retired to the patio again for drinks, music, and more story telling.  The full moon, roaring fire, falling hickory nuts, and the iPhone 11 led to a picturesque evening.  RJ used all of the new features of the iPhone camera to make sure it was well documented.

I believe that our team building weekend was a huge success.  All of us got to work together in a completely different environment than usual and I believe that everyone can appreciate each others contribution to the team.

Notes: other weekend notes that didn’t start with F.

Tim’s pellet gun is loud and probably scared off a few fishermen.

Deerfield lives up to its name.  I saw at least 100 deer over the weekend.

Golfing in the fog at Deerfield is fun for everyone, except for the deer I almost killed with an errant low fairway wood shot that skidded under its legs.  Ryan said it jumped and looked confused.

Everyone wanted to get fruit and veggies on the way home after eating all that meat.

iTestSystem Tip: Sensor Auto-zero Utility Update

Our iTestSystem customers who routinely acquire data with high channel counts and data from full-bridge transducers recently requested that we update the sensor auto-zero utility to improve test setup efficiency.   In the latest version of iTestSystem, we updated the sensor auto-zero utility to include all channels that use the From Custom Scale option.  This update enables users to quickly adjust selected channel offsets with only a few mouse clicks.

One of our test engineers recently used this feature to test and calibrate a new load cell design for measuring loads in a manufacturing process.  He was able to quickly calibrate and zero the strain gauges along with a calibrated load cell and a pressure transducer prior to testing and before each directional test. The offset values are included in the calibration data files for traceability.

Contact Information: For more information about this update or iTestSystem contact:

Chase Petzinger – Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM), LLC. Email: chase.petzinger@itestsystem.com or Phone: 1.844.TestSys

Troubleshooting Machine Failures Caused by Intermittent Damaging Events

Over the years we have been tasked with identifying the root cause of machine structural failures. In many cases, we can determine the failure mode through strain and vibration testing, order analysis, modal analysis, and operating deflection shape analysis.  What tests can you run when the damaging conditions are intermittent and not easily identified?

In these cases, we like to install a cellular networked temporary data acquisition (DAQ) system that can autonomously log vibration and strain data along with machine status data. We have deployed two types of DAQ systems to collect data remotely.  An interactive system that includes an industrial PC running our iTestSystem software and National Instruments (NI) Compact DAQ hardware and a headless system that utilizes NI Compact RIO hardware.  Our test engineers prefer using the interactive solution for troubleshooting because they can view real-time signal waveforms and collected data files, and then adjust the test parameters accordingly without having to reprogram the hardware.

Figure 1: Headless networked data acquisition system

When potentially damaging events are identified in the vibration and strain data collected by these systems, it is important to know the machine’s operating status. Collecting the machine status information is just as important as collecting the structural data.  Many machines transmit these operating variables and operating stages over their network/bus.  Recently we have recorded process data from Allen Bradley Control Logix PLCs via Ethernet/IP, mining machine data from a Siemens controller via proprietary TCP/IP protocol, boiler condition data from a DCS via Modbus TCP,  machine pressures from PI historian via the UFL connector (TCP), and vehicle speeds and pressure via CAN.  Fortunately, we were able to use and adapt LabVIEW communication protocol tools to build applications and addons that allow this network tag data to be collected along with structural data.

Figure 2: Modbus to Shared Variable Tool

After the data collection phase, our engineers perform statistical analysis on the sensor and status channels in all data files and aggregate the results into a database for searchability. To identify the root cause probabilities, you can process the channel statistics data using your favorite correlation algorithm or application.  The image below shows an example data set containing related sensor data that was processed using a LabVIEW correlation test tool.

Figure 3: Correlation Test Example vi

Contact Information: For more information about our remote data acquisition service, our LabVIEW development service, or iTestSystem contact:

Mark Yeager – Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM), LLC.  Email: mark.yeager@itestsystem.com or Phone: 1.844.TestSys

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