LabVIEW Certification Facilitates Functional Test System Update at GE Energy

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"While many candidates spoke of LabVIEW experience on their resumes, it was the LabVIEW and NI TestStand certifications that indicated to the hiring manager that a candidate truly had the skills and knowledge to be successful."

- David Hakey, Certified LabVIEW Architect, GE Energy

The Challenge:
Quickly updating and expanding a functional test system at GE Energy that was nearly 12 years old.

The Solution:
Building a project team with a core of certified NI LabVIEW and NI TestStand Developers and Architects to minimize development time and ensure a scalable and supportable system update.

Author(s):
David Hakey, Certified LabVIEW Architect - GE Energy
Trey McWhorter - National Instruments
Kristi Hobbs - National Instruments

After deciding to update a turbine/generator control system I/O module tester, the management team at GE Energy, one of the leading suppliers of power generation and energy delivery technologies, needed to select the tools for the job. They wanted to ensure long-term support for the tester so they avoided proprietary turnkey testers. Although they had not previously used National Instruments software, the team chose LabVIEW and NI TestStand because they could train new users on the tools quickly and cost-effectively, making it feasible for multiple engineers to gain the skills necessary to support the tester.

Although LabVIEW was chosen for the new project, the actual solution was not yet defined. The management team needed to hire someone who could both architect a solution in LabVIEW and lead the project team. After evaluating several candidates based on these criteria, the team selected David Hakey, an NI Certified LabVIEW Architect (CLA). The CLA certification gave the GE management team confidence that Hakey had the LabVIEW skill level and the project management background necessary to move quickly to develop a scalable tester.

Hakey recommended an approach for the test system with an automated testing mode for normal use and an interactive testing mode for debugging. Shortly after finalizing the design, he began the search for additional team members to help implement the test system. While many candidates spoke of LabVIEW experience on their resumes, it was the LabVIEW and NI TestStand certifications that indicated to him that a candidate truly had the skills and knowledge to be successful. In fact, he instructed the qualified candidate recruiter to look specifically for LabVIEW certification on candidates’ resumes. 

According to Hakey, “you can be confident in what you are getting if that certification level is there. Those individuals have the knowledge and experience to hit the ground running, and we had an aggressive timetable for completing the project.” He ultimately hired two contractors – another CLA and a Certified NI TestStand Developer.

With a core of three GE employees (including Hakey) and the two contractors (plus some additional contractors during initial development), the team rapidly implemented the new functional tester. The new tester idea was conceived in 2007, and by June 2009, it was up and running with the ability to test more than 30 different products. It now tests more than 40 products, and 22 of these testers have been deployed around the world. 

Because of the modular architecture, the team trained its local National Instruments Alliance Partner program member to write additional functionality for the tester and have brought new contractors up to speed to write new tests for it in as little as three to four weeks. With the reusable, scalable architecture, the developers can add capabilities for testing new products in as little as four hours.


Certified LabVIEW Architect, David Hakey

For More Information on This Case Study, Contact:
Trey McWhorter
National Instruments 
trey.McWhorter@ni.com

Author Information:
David Hakey, Certified LabVIEW Architect
GE Energy

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