Off-Highway 

The Off-Highway category contains case studies and blogs related to off-highway, mining and construction machinery/vehicle engineering and testing services.

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.

 

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.

ITM Helps Miami University Students Succeed SAE Baja

The students and advisors huddled around the computer react as they watch the signal yield an immediate spike within ITM’s iTestSystem software…

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.

Test Cell Vibration Monitoring

A large-engine manufacturer had test cells with severe vibration levels…

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

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.