Construction | Mining

The Construction | Mining category contains case studies and blogs related to ITM’s engineering and testing services for the mining and construction industry.

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.

 

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.

In Vehicle Vibration Testing

building a rugged and flexible in-vehicle testing solution to measure the vibration levels.

Vehicle Component Testing

…more than a thousand miles away. A display of gauges, needles and dials showed precisely how their product performed during every day over-the-road stress.

Collect Vehicle CAN Bus data with NI 9862 and iTestSystem

Automotive and off-highway engineers and designers often need to log vehicle bus data along with vibration, strain gauge, and other sensor data during normal operation to evaluate their design.  Using data from all these sources enables these engineers and designers to pinpoint a vehicle’s response to staged or damaging events.  For example, engineers can see how steering wheel position and speed effect structural response when the vehicle hits a pothole.

How does steering wheel position and speed effect structural response when the vehicle hits a pothole?

In situations where our engineers need to tap into the vehicle’s on-board diagnostics using CAN bus data and analog sensor data to identify and solve a problem, we will deploy a rugged measurement solution based on NI CompactDAQ (cDAQ) hardware.  These systems usually include an industrial compact pc or standalone cDAQ running the iTestSystem engineering measurement application.  iTestSystem logs data from the vehicle bus connected to NI 9862 CAN module and other analog sensors connected to NI cDAQ modules like NI 9234, NI 9236, and NI 9229 into one data file.

NI 9862 CAN Module Specifications and Connections

According to the NI data sheet, the NI 9862 modules is a single CAN port device that is isolated from the other modules in the system. The port has a Bosch DCAN CAN controller that is CAN 2.0B-compatible and fully supports both 11-bit and 29-bit identifiers. The port also has an NXP TJA1041AT High-Speed CAN transceiver that is fully compatible with the ISO 11898 standard and supports baud rates up to 1 Mbps.  This module requires +9 to +30 VDC supply voltage to operate.

The table below shows the connections between the NI 9862 9 pin D-Sub and the SAE J1962 connector that are required for CAN communication.  NI sells a OBDII9M-DB9F CAN Cable cable if you don’t want make your own cable.

iTestSystem CAN Channel Setup

Setting up a vehicle CAN bus connection can be difficult, especially if you need to acquire non-standard, proprietary messages and frames.  iTestSystem simplifies this setup by leveraging the NI XNET and CAN drivers to view and configure CAN bus data, import databases, and assign scale factors. iTestSystem then allows users to browse and choose which CAN signals to acquire.

For more information about collecting CAN bus data with an NI 9862 and iTestSystem, or our testing services, contact Chase Petzinger via email at chase.petzinger@itestsystem.com or phone at (844) 837-8797 x704

Related Links

ITM Gathers Dam Spillway Data During Midair Strain Gauge Project 

Garrison Dam

Suspended in a harness 30 feet above a concrete spillway in central North Dakota, ITM engineer Ryan “RJ” Matthews instruments the gate of one of the world’s largest earthen dams with dozens of strain gauge sensors. 

Integrated Test & Measurement’s field service technicians and engineers have installed strain gauges on civil structures and machinery around the globe for decades, and this project represents one more example of rugged data acquisition. In this instance, the team rappelled from an overhead abutment on the Garrison Dam — a 2-mile-long structure along the Missouri River built by the Army Corp. of Engineers starting in 1947. 

Contracted by Cotech IRM Services, ITM was charged with collecting data to measure the strain on one of the 28 spillway gates which are designed to raise and close to allow water to pass from the reservoir during rare flood events. Just behind those gates is Lake Sakakawea, one of the largest man-made lakes in the United States. 

Garrison Dam Spillway

Despite the complex location, Matthews and co-worker Zach Strong were able to successfully instrument the spillway gate with 44 single-axis strain gauges and solder signal cables which lead back to a NICompactDAQ system connected to their laptop, allowing them to successfully gather streams of crucial data using iTestSystem while the gate was put through its paces.

The project is yet another example of ITM’s ability to combine the use of strain gauge sensors, a cDAQ system and the firm’s iTestSystem software to create a structural health monitoring system. In this instance, the project required only one-time testing, but ITM can also establish a permanent structural health monitoring system as well. iTestSystem is an engineering measurement software platform that enables test engineers to organize, acquire, view, and analyze data from machinery, processes, vehicles and other complex systems.  iTestSystem was specifically designed for use with National Instruments (NI) cDAQ hardware for data collection and data logging. 

For Matthews, it was his first experience installing strain gauges while strapped into a bosun’s chair and dangling in midair, but he points out that ITM’s strain gauge process is essentially the same whether their engineers are standing on a bridge or inside a railcar.  All that changes is the method of access and environment. 

His field notes reveal that each strain gauge on this job was wired in a quarter bridge configuration, which provides one individual measurement of strain (positive tension or negative compression) per location. All gauges were adhered to the gate using M-bond 200 epoxy.  A final report submitted to the customer contained detailed instrumentation and test notes and results reported in a series of stress/strain tables and stress graphs.

Contact ITM for your Strain Gauge Needs 

Installing strain gauges in the field for structural and fatigue measurements requires expertise and experience.  Whether you use our iTestSystem software to stream and analyze strain signals for static measurements and real-world fatigue data acquisition or contract our software engineers to build a real time strain monitoring system, we will make sure you acquire quality strain data. Contact our strain lab and technicians to install strain gauges on test specimens or to design, build, calibrate, and test strain-based load cells.

Strain Lab Contact Info: Ryan.Welker@iTestSystem.com, (844) 837-8797

 

Strain Gauge Installation – M-Bond AE-10 Epoxy

This video shows how to install a strain gauge on a curved surface using M-Bond AE-10 two part epoxy. Watch an ITM test technician walk through each step of the M-Bond AE-10 strain gauge installation procedure.

Mobile Data Acquisition Key to Vehicle Component Testing at ITM

ITM delivers mobile data acquisition solutions to capture real-time feedback under actual conditions

Whether we are testing a new component on a truck that’s a thousand miles away or putting an off-highway vehicle through its paces right in front of us, it’s our mobile data acquisition products that often lead to ITM’s successes.

How have ITM engineers employed mobile data acquisition to create successful tests and find solutions for their clients? Here are two recent examples:

Example 1: Custom in-vehicle data logging solution captures CAN bus information alongside analog sensor data

The R&D office was filled with our client’s application engineers as they eagerly awaited a first-ever view of their product — a fan drive— as it performed under the hood of a commercial truck more than a thousand miles away.

A display of gauges, needles and dials showed precisely how our client’s product performed during everyday over-the-road stresses. The mobile data acquisition feeds showed fan speed, temperatures around the fan drive, and CAN bus data including engine speed and torque along with coolant, air and oil temperatures. It was an impressive view they had never seen before.

For years this global powertrain technologies company has turned to ITM to gather data for engine-cooling components. Thanks to software innovations at ITM, the firm has taken mobile data acquisition to the next level. Important vehicle information from the CAN (Control Area Network) bus alongside sensor data can be collected and shared real-time, which allows their client to remotely monitor tests as they happen.

“Not only are we correlating information that is broadcast by the vehicle with analog sensor information,” says ITM VP of Operations Ryan Welker, “we can gather data and feed it back to our customer in a way that is configurable to their needs. We can also incorporate GPS technology, which is very valuable. Now they can see if a vehicle is traveling up and down steep hills and see what influence it has on duty cycles of their product.”

To perform the tests, ITM used a RAC-88 data acquisition package that consists of a National Instruments cDAQ chassis and associated hardware as well as an embedded PC that runs ITM’s off-the-shelf iTestSystem DAQ software application. The package is equipped with a broadband router and cellular air cards for remote data connectivity and transmission.

From a pragmatic perspective, Welker points out that the constant monitoring also allows for a far more efficient testing process. Not only do their customers get data quickly (instead of waiting months until a test is complete to begin analysis), but also, any issues that disrupt data collection are brought to light immediately.

Beyond having the ability to build more efficient tests, Welker reiterates the importance of being able to gather more complete data by accessing the vehicle’s CAN bus network.

“This opens the doors to a lot more opportunities for customers that build engines and components,” he says. “Those vehicles are spitting out all kinds of valuable information over the CAN system that we can now correlate with analog signal test data. This allows us to provide customers with a far more accurate picture of exactly what is going on with their equipment.”

Example 2: In-vehicle testing employs mobile data acquisition to assess exhaust system

ITM was challenged with creating a rugged and flexible in-vehicle testing solution to determine the vibration levels of an on-highway vocational vehicle’s exhaust system during operation.

ITM engineers chose the high-performance and rugged NI cDAQ-9139 stand-alone system with NI C Series modules along with our LabVIEW-based data acquisition software, iTestSystem, to create a rugged, high-performance and portable exhaust test system for large vocational vehicles. Our solution provided a wireless interface to the stand-alone NI CompactDAQ system to allow the operator remote control and monitoring of the embedded acquisition and logging system.

“The new stand-alone NI CompactDAQ system provides a high-performance and portable system for demanding in-vehicle testing applications,” says Mark Yeager, ITM engineer and lead programmer. “Our iTestSystem software, based on NI LabVIEW, combined with stand-alone NI CompactDAQ allows us to build flexible mobile data acquisition systems faster than using traditional logging systems.”

ITM has used USB and Ethernet-based NI CompactDAQ systems, and its iTestSystem software, based on NI LabVIEW, for years to build high-performance mobile data acquisition and test systems for our customers in the transportation and in-vehicle space. The stand-alone NI CompactDAQ systems provide a new line of portable and flexible hardware from National Instruments by combining an embedded processor with the modular NI CompactDAQ platform.

Since these new NI cDAQ-913x systems can be used with the same NI LabVIEW system design software, NI DAQmx driver and 50+ existing NI C Series modules, ITM can build new flexible logging solutions for its customers in a very short amount of time.

Designing a Flexible Logging Solution for Exhaust Testing

For this mobile data acquisition application, ITM engineers chose the high-performance and rugged NI cDAQ-9139 stand-alone system with seven NI 9234 accelerometer modules and one NI 9229 module to interface directly to the sensors we leveraged in this application. The standalone cDAQ-9139 was bundled with a cellular network interface and packaged inside a rugged carrying case. For the sensors, ITM mounted 28 piezoelectric accelerometers to the exhaust system and connected them to the seven NI 9234 accelerometer modules. Engineers also installed a magnetic pickup sensor and connected it to the simultaneous, differential NI 9229 analog module to determine rotational speed that would be used later in a post processing order analysis algorithm.

Yeager says they leveraged the Windows Embedded OS running on the NI cDAQ-9139 to make the transition from using NI CompactDAQ USB-based systems connected to a laptop or PC a seamless process. The team used ITM’s iTestSystem software, based on NI LabVIEW system design software, to stream data from staged events and operation directly to the NI cDAQ-9139’s non-volatile hard drive in a TDMS file format. They were able to control and monitor the daq systems remotely via Remote Desktop by connecting the cDAQ-9139 to a Wi-Fi network using a high speed cellular broadband modem and router with Wi-Fi.

After conducting the mobile data acquisition, all of the TDMS data files were transferred to a computer for post processing and analysis. The analysis for this project included calculating the overall vibration levels for each accelerometer using the order analysis plug-in for iTestSystem software that leverages the built-in analysis functions within NI LabVIEW. Additionally, with the iTestSystem software, they were able to provide the customer with a professional report containing overall vibration levels and order analysis graphs that identified which sensor locations failed or met the design criteria.

Leveraging the stand-alone CompactDAQ systems and  iTestSystem software for this project was a huge success, and the customer was amazed at how quickly ITM was able to integrate new technologies including both NI and third-party hardware and software. With this system, ITM was also able to reduce the overall cost of their test by reducing the manpower needed to perform the test and providing them with instantaneous feedback of the system functionality by utilizing new technologies.

In the end, the customer liked the mobile data acquisition system so much that instead of sending the system back to ITM, they redeployed it onto another on-highway vehicle to solve a different problem.

Contact Ryan Welker via email at ryan.welker@itestsystem.com for more information about our mobile data acquisition products or iTestSystem.

High Channel Count Synchronous Datalogging

Faced with the challenge of testing a large and complex on‐highway vehicle, engineers from Integrated Test & Measurement knew it would take hundreds of channels…

Quiet Please: ITM Tunes Into Importance of Measuring Sound Levels

Construction Site Noise Testing

Whether manufacturing vehicles, mining natural resources or operating machinery on a construction site, a single common factor can bring your operation and productivity to an absolute halt. 

That factor is noise. 

In a world where precision and performance rule, measuring and controlling sound levels can be crucial to the success of your product or project. The team at Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM) have developed a customized solution that not only measures and collects sound-level data, but will help your team identify the specific components causing all that noise. 

On-Site Sound Testing Capabilities 

ITM can assist with all types of sound testing on site including: 

  • Vehicle/Automotive Noise Vibration & Harshness (NVH) Testing  
  • Drive by Noise Testing  
  • Sound Level Testing  
  • Vehicle/Automotive Component Noise Testing  
  • Construction Site Sound/Noise & Vibration Level Monitoring  
  • Mine Sound/Noise & Vibration Level Monitoring  
  • ISO Noise Testing 
  • Data Logging

In each of these instances, their engineers will be packing a custom Sound Level Test Kit full of data acquisition hardware, microphones and more. The key to their equipment, however, is that each kit includes ITM’s proprietary iTestSystem software, an intuitive sound-level human machine interface (HMI) that allows for sound-level recording and reporting. 

Mark Yeager, ITM Lead Programmer, says building the capability within iTestSystem to measure microphone data now allows customers to look at a real-time display of sound-level measurements. 

Yeager says their crew can build out tests on site to do such things as measure pass-by noise, a process by which the team arranges mics inside a vehicle and along both sides of a 40-yard stretch then capture, monitor and analyze a vehicle’s sound and compare it to acceptable standards. By breaking apart the frequencies of components, they can even zero in on trouble spots such as a turbocharger on a car or a loud cooling fan on a piece of construction equipment. 

Measuring Dangerous Sound 

Yeager also points out the need to measure sound in places like construction sites or mines, where there may be concern over hearing loss for operators. According to the Centers for Disease Control, hearing loss can result from a single loud sound (like firecrackers) near your ear. Or, more often, hearing loss can result over time from damage caused by repeated exposures to loud sounds. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for hearing loss to occur. Sound is measured in decibels (dB). A whisper is about 30 dB, normal conversation is about 60 dB, and a motorcycle engine running is about 95 dB. The CDC advises that noise above 70 dB over a prolonged period of time may start to damage your hearing, and loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to your ears. 

Test-Ready Sound Level Kits 

If you have test engineers on-site and simply need the equipment to help you get to the bottom of your sound issues, ITM will ship their test-ready kit that includes a pair of pelican carrying cases packed with the following components: 

Whether your needs include on-site sound testing and analysis or you simply need the crucial equipment to measure sound and vibration levels yourself, ITM can help. 

ITM is a structural test & measurement engineering service and software company located in Milford, Ohio, that helps companies reduce costs and improve efficiencies in their product development, manufacturing, and production activities. ITM is a recognized NI Gold Alliance Partner that provides software development, structural and mechanical testing services, industrial monitoring, strain gauging, and data analysis solutions to clients around the globe.

For more information about sound and noise level testing or our sound level test system or other data collection solutions, contact Ryan Welker via email at ryan.welker@itestsystem.com or phone at (844) 837-8797 x702.