ITM Blog Posts

The Blog Post category contains blog posts associated with ITM’s testing services, LabVIEW programming, Test & Measurement Hardware, Boiler Monitoring Systems, and iTestSystem applications.

Printed Circuit Board Strain Testing – JEDEC-9704A

ITM Employs JEDEC-9704A to Test Strain on Printed Circuit Boards 

Every modern electronic device includes at least one printed circuit board, so it stands to reason that these intricate parts fail at times due to stress and strain. 

When that happens, manufacturers know they can turn to ITM’s test engineers who can develop tests to help get to the bottom of their circuit board problems. For some, the failures are happening in the field, and for others, it’s the manufacturing process that’s overstressing the parts that make all our gadgets go. 

Engineer Ryan “RJ” Matthews said ITM has decades of experience with printed circuit boards (PCBs), including circuit board design and development. So, strain gauge testing on PCBs using JEDEC-9704A, the global standard for microelectronics, is a natural progression for the team. 

Matthews has led recent projects in which ITM helped companies determine how much strain and stress their PCB is experiencing both in the field and during the assembly process. Simulating the assembly process can be a daunting challenge, particularly if that process includes variables such as high heat, as it did in a recent example. 

Still, the team was able to instrument the circuit board effectively and replicate every assembly step while also gathering crucial strain data, which they reported back to the client. The challenging test environment isn’t unlike ITM’s typical rugged data acquisition projects, just on a much smaller scale. The firm specializes in strain gauge data collection on everything from behemoth off-road machinery to miniscule gadgetry. 

Matthews said the team often employs NI c-DAQ hardware combined with ITM’s proprietary iTestSystem software, which allows them to easily configure PCB tests to collect and analyze the data. iTestSystem’s Rosette Analysis tool is used to calculate the principal strain, principal strain angle, shear strain, principal stress, and other values from strain gauge rosette data. 

For more information on this work, our testing services or iTestSystem, contact: Ryan Welker – Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM), LLC – ryan.welker@itestsystem.com 

Rockets, road trips and paper mills 

Why an ITM team trekked across Alabama several times in the same week 

Our team should be intimately familiar with the three-hour stretch of I-65 between Prattville and Decatur, Alabama. They drove it four times in about as many days during a recent work trip.  

The team had been on a troubleshooting assignment to a rocket-building NASA partner that needed help with what appeared to be failing sensors. They had no idea that what seemed like a fairly straightforward trip would soon become far more interesting and logistically challenging. One phone call later though, and they were dispatched 166 miles south to a paper mill client. 

Upon arrival, they began commissioning new Acosense technology on the plant’s process lines. Integrated Test & Measurement is an exclusive U.S. installer of the Swedish technology that can constantly monitor and analyze liquids inside a pipe with non-invasive clamp-on sensors. 

The small crew proved themselves both flexible and adaptable by pulling double duty as they served both clients for the better part of a week. Rocket work one day. Back in the car. Paper mill the next. Back in the car. And so on until both jobs were complete. The week could serve as a microcosm of the variety of work ITM engineers balance regularly. 

“That was a challenging week for this crew for sure,” said ITM President Tim Carlier. “But it was all interesting technology and gave the team a chance to troubleshoot newer equipment. So it was a good learning challenge for us and an example of our dedication to meet the needs of our clients.” 

ITM engineers and technicians experience a wide variety of projects and travel opportunities. For some, the real joy is working with their hands on site, while others prefer the more technical activities such as computer assisted design or relying on their social skills during customer interactions. 

Ultimately, we do what it takes to deliver — even when that means burning up the roads in Alabama to get the job done.

For more information about our strain gauging and testing services contact Ryan Welker @ (844) 837-8797.

ITM Using Acosense Tech to Analyze Industrial Process Fluids

ITM Using Acosense Tech to Analyze and Measure Industrial Process Fluids

Listening skills.

Most of us have been working on being better listeners since elementary school. ITM has entered into the trial phase of an exciting partnership with a Swedish engineering firm that is taking listening to the next level.  

The firm is called Acosense, and their breakthrough technology relies on Acospector Acoustic Chemometer, a clamp-on instrument that can measure complex fluids in the process industry, delivering analysis previously thought difficult or impossible to obtain. The innovative technique measures a multitude of properties such as density, viscosity and solid content moving through industrial pipes. The method is non-invasive and can even return results on opaque, viscous or corrosive fluids. Ultimately, the idea is to help reduce production costs, increase product quality and reduce environmental impact. 

For ITM, which works extensively with clients in the pulp and paper industry to improve processes and efficiences through various forms of industrial monitoring, the tech holds a great deal of potential and aligns with our expertise in vibration technology. If all goes as early trials indicate, ITM could be headed toward an exclusive distribution agreement in the U.S., said Ryan Welker, Vice President of Integrated Test & Measurement.  

Acosense officials said they turned to ITM to target the U.S. market because of the team’s “high vibro-acoustic competence and market knowledge.” 

“ITM is really easy to work with given the level of personal skills and hands-on experience from several types of industries,” said Karl Nilsson, Acosense CEO. 

Welker said ITM is currently in the middle of a months-long trial using Acosense tech at a global paper company, gathering data on supply lines within the plant, then comparing that data to actual samples collected by the mill’s lab to look for correlations between the chemical makeup and the acoustics profile of various fluids.  

“The big thing would be being able to measure these properties without breaking into the process lines,” said Welker. “It could be a very easy and clean way to give our clients continuous feedback. And it is a quick and easy installation.” 

For more information on this work, our testing services or iTestSystem, contact: Ryan Welker – Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM), LLC – ryan.welker@itestsystem.com 

ITM Co-op Helps Engineering Student Set Sights Even Higher 

ITM Co-op Helps Engineering Student Set Sights Even Higher 

Tyler House’s dream career began to come into sharper focus during his spring co-op at Integrated Test & Measurement.

After four months at the Milford, Ohio, firm the University of Cincinnati electrical engineering student headed into his summer feeling both excited by his work experience and inspired to emulate ITM CEO Tim Carlier one day by starting his own company.

“I know I want to do something I love,” said Tyler, who had just returned from a trip to Disney with his girlfriend to celebrate the end of the semester. “I’d like to start my own company someday. I’ve been poking at that idea. Definitely a big dream of mine is having that freedom and doing something that means a lot to me.”

Perhaps the only thing that equals Tyler’s love of engineering is his love of music. He and a few fellow graduates from Clermont Northeastern (CNE) high school started a band called Wishbone, which has started lining up local gigs to cover rock and blues tunes stretching back a half century.

Tyler’s two worlds collided on the last day of his co-op when a couple of engineers from ITM dropped into his band’s “first bonafide show.”

“It was so much fun watching their reaction,” said Tyler, who employs his electrical engineering skills to repair the band’s gear when things inevitably break. “I love that they came.”

Coincidentally, like Wishbone, ITM’s entire leadership team — the CEO, VP of Operations, Lead Programmer and Administrative Director — are all CNE graduates. For Tyler, seeing that level of success from the same small high school as him was only more of a confidence lift.

He loves the entrepreneurial and inventive culture at ITM, where staff members are constantly tackling new challenges. “It’s really just a great place to figure out what you are into,” he said.

Tyler found himself learning a ton about Fusion 360, a cloud-based 3D modeling program, while researching mechanical properties and simulating failure modes on a bolted joint. He said he spent about half his co-op in the office doing things like assembling Data Acquisition (DAQ) boxes and the other half on the road working on-site. Experiences included everything from climbing inside massive paper mills to helping gather data on equipment operating in remote locations all over the country.

“In talking with my friends who have had co-ops, it’s hard to get to work in a place where you feel like you can make a difference and actually help fix problems,” said Tyler. “I definitely felt that. I learned really fast about how to deal with mistakes and just general problem solving.”

Besides the on-the-job learning, he loved exploring new places, national parks and more with the ITM crew after hours. He’s hoping to pick up some work helping ITM with any projects through the summer, and he’s interested in returning during his next co-op rotation in Spring of 2023.

Meanwhile, he’ll keep poking at his dream of someday owning his own company.

“You just have to go out there and get it,” Tyler said. “If you are aggressive about it, you will fail a bunch. But you’ve got to be able to get up off the ground and just keep rolling with it.”

For more information about Co-op or employment opportunities at ITM, contact Josh Fishback via email at josh.fishback@itestsystem.com or phone at (844) 837-8797 x705.

Modern Tools Series: What’s In The Box?

Modern Tools Series: What’s In The Box? 

This box reveal may not be quite as dramatic as the ending of “Seven,” the ’95 serial killer thriller that blew moviegoers’ minds, but the ITM team is throwing open the latches nonetheless. 

In this case, our team is taking you on a quick tour of a recently deployed Rugged Data Acquisition System. These particular black boxes of tech are riding around on high-dollar fracking equipment to remotely monitor all sorts of triggering events. Our crew builds them on the regular, and the end result is that our clients can better understand what sorts of stress, strain and vibration is taking place both en-route to their site and once operations begin.  

ITM is known for building rugged measurement systems and data logging solutions that are deployed on everything from Class A trucks, to well frac trailers, to dam and bridge structures, oil pipelines, gensets, boilers and more.

So, without further ado, what’s in the box?  

We recommend a handful of essential components and elements if you are looking to build your own rugged measurement system:

  • An Industrial Embedded PC. We love the Nuvo-7000LP. Another favorite is the Advantech UNO-2484G-9S55. 
  • You’ll need industrial grade connectivity, and you can’t beat Peplink’s cellular router options. And remember to outfit that unit with an AT&T or Verizon plan and get that activated card installed. 
  • A remote desktop application is a must, and we usually turn to LogMeIn for our remote access and file management. This allows us to pull up any of our units no matter where they are in the world to check in on status or grab some data for our clients. 
  • Speaking of data, depending on your job, you’ll likely need lots of data storage capability. Our preference is a 2 terabyte USB drive, which gives us an almost unlimited amount of space. If needed, we can store about six months worth of data before hitting capacity.
  • Since our industrial PC is running Windows, we use iTestSystem, our proprietary engineering measurement software platform that enables test engineers to organize, acquire, view, and analyze data from machinery, processes, vehicles and other complex systems.
  • To complete the box, our industrial PC is connected to an NI c-DAQ outfitted with strain, vibration and voltage modules.
  • What about power you ask? In our fracking instance, we connected to an alternator which charges a bank of batteries in the RAC. 

So there you have it. That’s what’s in the box. Build your own, or get in touch with our team, and we’ll customize a system for your specific needs.  

We also install and service all of our equipment. So if something breaks in the field, we can get you back up and collecting data or even assist with data analysis.

For more information about our rugged data acquisition systems, on-site system deployment or data analysis services, contact Josh Fishback via email at josh.fishback@itestsystem.com or phone at (844) 837-8797 x705.

 

ITM gives back to UC’s future engineers

ITM gives back to UC’s future engineers

The team at ITM spent half a day at the University of Cincinnati recently in an effort to invest in the next generation of engineers.

Integrated Test and Measurement President and Founder Tim Carlier volunteered to judge senior capstone projects developed by students in UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. Joining Carlier inside Great Hall of UC’s Tangeman University Center were Josh Fishback, ITM’s administrative director, and Chase Petzinger, a computer engineer with the Milford, Ohio, engineering firm. 

A few of the projects they judged included a Mars Rover prototype, a homemade emergency rescue drone and an autonomous object avoidance system that uses lidar technology to prevent crashes. 

As a whole, ITM’s crew left campus feeling encouraged by the impressive engineering skills, presentation styles and ingenuity of UC’s students. For Carlier, a day like this is an opportunity to connect with young people entering the industry. While he is always on the lookout for potential co-op connections or to recruit talented employees, building relationships and supporting young engineers is the main objective. 

“These guys and gals are going to be out in the workforce, and they will have jobs that could use our services someday,” said Carlier. “It is exciting to see how well they are doing.” 

 For Fishback and Petzinger, both UC alumni and former track and field athletes, it was a chance to return to their alma mater.  

 “It is always good to come back and see how UC has progressed,” said Fishback, an accountant who graduated from UC’s Lindner College of Business. “I like seeing how the students carry themselves and how they present their senior design projects. I was pretty impressed.” 

Petzinger was excited to see his favorite professor’s name — Thomas Mantei — had been added to UC’s Engineering Research Center. He also found it helpful to learn what types of programming languages today’s students are favoring.  

“They are doing a lot more web-based machine learning now than when I was on campus,” said Petzinger. “It is pretty interesting to see the direction things are going. They knew their stuff. I didn’t have a single student stumble over a technical question that I gave them.” 

Carlier handed out business cards to those he engaged with and invited them to connect on LinkedIn so he could follow their career achievements.

For more information about Engineering or CO-OP positions at ITM contact Josh Fishback via email at josh.fishback@itestsystem.com or phone at (844) 837-8797 x705.

Endless Testing Options Through Finite Element Analysis (FEA) 

Endless Testing Options Through Finite Element Analysis (FEA) 

Whether our customers need us to validate their Finite Element Analysis (FEA) models or perform both the physical testing and the FEA, our engineers are used to helping customers with complex testing and analysis of high-value equipment. 

As a recent example, our team is involved in a large-scale project to do engine testing for a client that requires ITM to do both the physical testing as well as the FEA simulations. This requires using a custom high-channel count telemetry system to transmit engine data to a receiver that is sampling at an extremely high rate. 

“Once you are able to bring in the test data and compare it to the simulated data, you are able to fine tune your FEA simulation to better reflect the real-world application,” said ITM engineer Ryan Matthews. “We can also simulate the test in software and predict how it is going to react to the test when we can actually measure such things as strain, stress and vibration.” 

Matthews points out that FEA technology also helps the team determine the precise best placement of strain gauge during physical testing. And depending on complexity, a single simulation can take a few seconds or months to run. 

For obvious reasons — mainly the cost of bringing high-value assets to failure — running repeated strain gauge tests on components simply isn’t feasible, but ITM’s in-house capabilities and close partnership with sister firm SixDOF opens up endless FEA simulation options to clients. 

“Sometimes you are only going to be able to test a structure or a part once before it fails,” says Matthews. “So it becomes crucial to do a limited number of physical tests then correlate that to your FEA. Then you can pretty much run unlimited simulations.” 

For more information about our testing, strain gauging, and FEA modeling services contact Ryan Welker via email at ryan.welker@itestsystem.com of phone @ (844) 837-8797.

Applying Modern Methods to Study Civil Structures

Concrete Science: ITM Applying Modern Methods to Study Civil Structures

ITM has spent the last two decades testing the limits of steel, aluminum, composites, and other materials. From the heights of space to the depths of underground mines, our team has improved the art of using strain gauges to measure stress on metal, machines and complex systems. As the Milford, Ohio, firm enters its third decade, ITM engineers have returned to the lab to demonstrate some of the methods to measure rebar reinforced concrete using strain gauge technologies.

Concrete literally holds together much of our modern world, yet, many of our civil structures built in the mid-20th century are crumbling. From bridges to buildings, concrete is cracking and failing at an alarming rate, yet few are applying modern engineering methods to measure and monitor this foundational material we all rely upon.

As part of recent experiments, ITM staffers crafted test materials into mini concrete beams to illustrate how the materials hold up under stress and, more importantly, what it takes to capture the data. In our lab we placed 4-inch square by 18-inch long concrete beams under several thousand pounds of load using a hydraulic press. Gauges were affixed not only on the outside of the beams but also embedded inside the beam along the rebar used to reinforce the concrete. We used a laptop running our iTestSystem Software, an NI cDAQ-9171 Chassis, and NI-9236 modules to capture data from the strain gauges installed on the concrete specimens.

The data captured as the beams were brought to failure revealed the superiority of certain sensor bonding materials and methods during the testing. Importantly, it also showed that the stress along the internal rebar and that of the gauges on the outside of the concrete beams remained in sync as evidenced by the graphs that reveal the stress data.

Our team will continue these studies to show various methods currently being used to measure stress & strain in concrete structures and concrete crack propagation, the importance of which is only reinforced by news of deadly building collapses and aging civil structures. Stay tuned for more blogs detailing our findings and best practices for using today’s technology to measure structural concrete cracking.

For more information on this work, our testing services or iTestSystem, contact: Ryan Welker – Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM), LLC – ryan.welker@itestsystem.com

Co-op Student Finds Home at ITM – Literally

ITM Co-op Student Weston Graham with his Bus

Co-op Student Finds Home at ITM – Literally 

Weston Graham found a whole lot more than valuable job experience while co-oping at Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM). He also found his dream home — a 7-ton bus he would convert into a tiny house on wheels.

The University of Cincinnati aerospace engineering major had joined ITM on a NASA contract testing rocket components in Huntsville, Alabama, when a Facebook Marketplace search unearthed the ideal fixer-upper, a 1995 8-window International bus in his price range.

“I couldn’t find housing, and I didn’t want to pay $600 a month for rent,” he said. “I thought a bus would be fun.”

After all, Weston had the mechanical aptitude. Having spent his formative years tearing apart and selling enough go-karts to buy his first car, why not go big? Really big. Only problem was the bus he desired sat 3.5 hours away from his Huntsville hotel room. He talked a coworker into a midnight run through Alabama and eventually parked the bus in his parents Louisville, Kentucky driveway.

“It is the only school bus ever produced with a mechanical DT466 engine,” he fawned. “It is a wet-sleeve design, so you can actually change out the cylinders and rebuild the entire engine without ever taking it out of the vehicle.”

After months of driving home from ITM every weekend to rehab his Skoolie, he’s nearly finished with the RV conversion. With furniture, kitchen sink, bed, closets and more installed before Christmas, he had only some electrical and plumbing work left as he wrapped up his Fall co-op.

The student’s ingenuity was no surprise to the ITM team. The Milford, Ohio, engineering firm prides itself on landing co-ops who are problem solvers, then giving them real-world experience. In fact, CEO Tim Carlier believes deeply in giving students the same types of opportunities he received while in college.

While pursuing his mechanical engineering degree at Ohio University, Carlier worked summers and extended breaks at Manta Corp. in the early ’90s. At 19, he was scaling a roller coaster at Kings Island to instrument and test the ride overnight. It was extremely valuable experience, and he wants to pass it along to the next generation.

That’s why co-ops at ITM find themselves traveling the country on assignment, helping with research projects in the R&D lab or even scaling a massive recovery boiler to help the firm monitor and improve efficiencies in a pulp and paper plant.

For Weston, two co-ops at ITM gave him the opportunity of a lifetime.

“I was at the office getting acclimated and learning how to install strain gauges when they said, ‘Well, we have a contract with NASA down in Alabama , and we’d like to send you down there,’” he said. “I mean you can’t really ask for much more than that being a first-year aerospace engineering student. That was a really cool experience.”

In addition, he liked working at a firm where the company leaders are so accessible.

“I don’t think you would be able to say in most jobs as a student that you see the CEO every day and you talk with him and go out to lunch.”

For more information about co-op or other employment opportunities at ITM contact Josh Fishback at (844) 837-8797.

Happy Holidays 2021

Happy Holidays

A special thanks to all of our customers for helping make 2021 another successful year.  We want to wish you and your family a joyful holiday season with peace, health, and happiness in the coming year!

Integrated Test & Measurement