Building a Rugged Measurement System

Our team of engineers have decades of experience performing structural testing in the aerospace, off-highway, automotive, construction equipment, pulp & paper as well as utility markets.

We have developed rugged measurement systems and data logging solutions that were deployed on Class A trucks, well frac trailers, dam and bridge structures, oil pipelines, gensets, boilers and many other vehicles, structures and assets.

Let our engineers assist you with designing and building the best rugged measurement system for data collection in your test environment.  Fill out the contact form to start the design process.

What Do You Want to Measure with your Rugged Measurement System?

First you need to determine how your rugged measurement system will be used.

Do  you need to measure vibration levels on rotating machinery? Or strain levels on a rocket propulsion component? Or do you want to monitor asset health or process parameters over long periods of time?

Understanding your test application is critical to designing your rugged measurement system.

Monorail 1000

What DAQ hardware should I use?

Does your rugged measurement system need to constantly measure and analyze data that is unattended and over a long period of time? Or is it a temporary system for test technicians to collect data on many different structures and assets?

Options:  Laptop with a cDAQ Chassis,  Standalone cDAQ Chassis, Industrial PC with a cDAQ Chassis or Standalone cRIO Chassis.

What software is required?

Can you leverage ITM’s free iTestSystem engineering measurement software to acquire and analyze data? Or do you need a custom standalone application to communicate directly with other devices?

Options:  iTestSystem, Custom LabVIEW Application for Laptop or Industrial PC,  Standard ITM RT Application or Custom LabVIEW RT Application.

iTestSystem MultiDAQ

What type and how many sensors do I need?

The answer to this question depends greatly on the asset you are testing and the questions you are trying to resolve.  Parameters like structure size, operational speed influence, and test goals influence the type of sensor you choose for each situation.

Once the channel list is outlined, you will be able to select the appropriate modules to include in the rugged measurement system.

Options:  Accelerometers, Velocity Sensors, Displacement Sensors, Microphones, Thermocouples, RTDs, Tachometers, Strain Gauges, Pressure Sensors, Load Cells, Voltage Sensors, and Current Sensors.

What environment will my measurement system be deployed?

Will my rugged measurement system be used in a lab, in a vehicle or is it a permanent installation? Will it be used in a test cell where hydraulic oil is likely to spray or in a hazardous location where explosive conditions exist? Will it be exposed to the elements in an outdoor installation?  The answers to all of these questions will influence many aspects of the rugged measurement system design, like enclosure type, system power, and sensor connections.

Options:  Lab Environment, Temporary Portable  Location,  Permanent Industrial Location,  Outdoor Off-Highway Vehicle,  or Other.

What kind of enclosure should I use to house my measurement system?

The kind of enclosure you choose depends on the deployment environment, mobility requirements, and number of sensors.  Examples of these rugged measurement system enclosures can be found here.

Options:  Mobile Pelican Case,  Portable Test Stand, Portable 19″ Rack-Mount, Stainless Steel Cabinet, Fiberglass Cabinet, Custom Enclosure.

What type of power does my rugged measurement system require?

Some questions to think about for determining your system power requirements.  Do my sensors require external power?  Can I connect to the unit under test’s power? Is AC power available?  Do I need to supply my own power?  How long do my tests need to run?

Options:  AC Power, 24 or 12 VDC from Vehicle, Solar Power, Battery Power,  and Internal Sensor Power.

How do you want to communicate with your rugged measurement system?

Answer the following questions to determine optimal system communication.  Will someone be collecting data directly from the DAQ system or will it be deployed in a remote location?  Is the unit under test mobile or stationary?

Options:  USB Cable, Ethernet Cable, WIFI or Cellular.

Do my sensor connections need ingress protection?

The type of sensor and communication connections depends on the environment that the rugged measurement system will be deployed.  Is the system installed outdoors?  Is it installed or deployed in a factory or vehicle?

Options:  Cable Pass Through, Standard Connecters, Open Case Panel Connections,  Waterproof Connectors.

How much data storage does my application require?

Input the answer to the questions below into the spreadsheet located here to estimate data file size.

How long will the rugged measurement system be in operation?  How many sensors will be in a data file?  What sample rate will the sensor’s data be streamed to disk?

Options:  None, USB 128 GB Thumb Drive,  USB 1 TeraByte, USB 2 TeraByte, 500 GB SSD, Other

Does my rugged measurement system need to communicate directly with another device?

If you need your rugged measurement system to communicate with an external device or data archiving service, you will have to use a standard ITM cRIO application or build a custom application.  In either case, you will have to choose a communication protocol to transfer results.

Communication Options:  EthernetIP, TCP, UDP, Modbus, OPC DA, OPC UA, PI UFL Connector, Web Service.

Engineers Installing a Monitoring System Control Panel

Do you have the expertise and resources to deploy your rugged measurement system?

Our test engineers and technicians are available to assist you with any part of the testing process.  This includes test planning, onsite sensor installation and data acquisition and remote test monitoring.