Using NI CompactDAQ and NI LabVIEW for Structural Validation and Testing of Generator Sets

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"The flexibility and quality of the NI CompactDAQ platform combined with the productivity of LabVIEW system design software helped us build a custom, high-performance test system in a short time, saving us and our customer substantial costs."

- Mark Yeager, Integrated Test & Measurement

The Challenge:
Building a reliable system to test generator set vibration levels after production to verify that the units were designed and assembled properly.

The Solution:
Developing and installing a system to acquire, analyze and report the vibration levels recorded at 20 locations around the generator set structure. We used an NI CompactDAQ Ethernet chassis with eight dynamic signal acquisition (DSA) input modules to condition, synchronize, and digitize the acceleration and voltage signals.

Mark Yeager - Integrated Test & Measurement

Creating a Flexible, High-Performance Test System With LabVIEW and NI CompactDAQ

Our customer needed a reliable system to test the vibration levels of its generator sets prior to field deployment so they could validate their design and manufacturing. They also wanted the test system to record synchronized, high-speed data that could be used by engineers to troubleshoot structural problems. By using integrated hardware and software from NI, we provided our customer with a solution that helped their test cell technicians measure structural vibration levels safely, quickly, and efficiently. They are now identifying and fixing structural flaws of their generator sets earlier in the process, which creates higher quality products for their customers. The flexibility and quality of the NI CompactDAQ platform combined with LabVIEW system design software helped us build a custom, high-performance test system in a short time, saving us and our customer substantial costs.

We connected the NI 9234 module to accelerometers in order to collect accurate high-speed vibration measurements. We connected the NI 9229 module to a magnetic pickup sensor to determine the rotational speed of the generator. We chose the NI 9229 module because it combined a high resolution with a wide voltage range, and it could be synchronized with the NI 9234 module. We chose the NI cDAQ-9188 Ethernet chassis with Ethernet connectivity because the test cells had an existing Ethernet network.

We used our configuration-based data acquisition and analysis iTestSystem software, which we built using LabVIEW, to acquire and view the vibration data generated by the NI CompactDAQ hardware.  We also created a custom plug-in for iTestSystem that generated vibration reports and animated vibration modes.


Plans to Transition From NI CompactDAQ to the Stand-Alone NI CompactDAQ System

For years, we’ve used USB-based and Ethernet-based NI CompactDAQ systems and our iTestSystem software, built with LabVIEW, to build high-performance data acquisition and test systems for our customers in the power generation, off-highway, rail, and in-vehicle space. Since these applications require a portable solution with built-in data logging features, the new stand-alone NI CompactDAQ systems will provide us with more logging and processing capabilities within the NI CompactDAQ platform. Additionally, since the new NI cDAQ-913x systems can be used with our iTestSystem software, the NI DAQmx driver, and more than 50 NI C Series modules, we’ll be able to convert our existing Ethernet NI CompactDAQ system to the new stand-alone NI CompactDAQ systems with very little effort.

The Advantage of a Solution From National Instruments

Our solution enabled our customer to quickly determine if their generator sets had failed their vibration criteria. If a failure had occurred, engineers could then use the synchronized vibration data to quickly identify structural problems and proactively adjust the design to remedy flaws prior to deployment to the end customer. By catching these structural dynamics problems in the factory and not in the field, our customer has realized a substantial cost savings because of the reduced time and expenses associated with similar field validation tests.

Author Information:
Mark Yeager
Integrated Test & Measurement

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