Next-Level Vehicle Component Testing

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"With the latest technologies, reliability of NI hardware, and our software innovations, ITM has taken in-vehicle data logging to the next level."

- Ryan Welker, Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM), LLC

The Challenge:
Create a rugged, autonomous in-vehicle testing solution to synchronously monitor and analyze vehicle CAN information along with various analog sensors on an on-highway vocational vehicle’s cooling system during operation.

The Solution:
Using our RAC-88 rugged data acquisition system consisting of an industrial PC, NI CompactDAQ chassis, NI C Series modules, and our data acquisition software based on NI LabVIEW system design software, iTestSystem, we created a high-performance, portable vehicle test system. Our solution includes a cellular interface to provide automated data uploading as well as remote control and monitoring of the embedded acquisition and logging system.

Ryan Welker - Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM), LLC

The R&D office was filled with Borg Warner’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 1,000 miles away.

A display of gauges, needles and dials showed precisely how their product performed during every day over-the-road stress. The data feeds showed fan speed, temperatures around the fan drive, and controller area network (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.

“At an engineering facility, there can be a big disconnect between what is going on at an engineer’s desk and in the real world,” says Ryan Livingston, senior program engineer in Borg Warner’s Thermal Systems division. “To be able to sit in an air conditioned office and watch our product perform in real-time across the country is a huge benefit.”

Our firm, Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM) in Milford, Ohio, delivers these real-world snapshots of data. For years, Borg Warner, a global powertrain technologies company, has turned to us to gather data for engine-cooling components.  Thanks to software innovations at ITM, our firm has taken in-vehicle data logging to the next level.

We can collect important vehicle information from the CAN bus alongside sensor data and share it in real time, which allows our client to remotely monitor tests as they happen.



Not only are we correlating information that is broadcast by the vehicle with analog sensor information but we can gather data and feed it back to our customer in a way that is configurable to their needs. We can also incorporate valuable GPS technology so a customer can see if a vehicle is traveling up and down steep hills and see what influence it has on the product’s duty cycles.

To perform the tests, we use a RAC-88 data acquisition package that consists of an NI CompactDAQ chassis and associated hardware as well as an embedded PC that runs our off-the-shelf iTestSystem software application. We equipped the package with a broadband router and cellular air cards for remote data connectivity and transmission.

Borg Warner engineers pointed out how crucial it is in today’s competitive environment to get the clearest picture of how products will behave under actual conditions. “In order for us to fine tune our components and ensure they are going to be durable, we need to be able to test them with a very accurate understanding of exactly how they are being used in the field,” says Livingston. “For the first time, we have the data that gives us the confidence that the limits we are testing to are accurate to the actual usage in the real world.”

Livingston says one of the biggest assets of using ITM for the months-long testing is the constant and consistent monitoring and communication from Welker, who uses cloud sharing to communicate data sets to Borg Warner in five-minute increments, then merges files into a day-long view. Welker even tracks the testing on the weekends on his smart phone and can go online to reconfigure file sizes or sample rates.

“I couldn’t imagine it being any easier in terms of finding someone to help us conduct this work and provide the output we are looking for,” says Livingston. “Because of their experience, they know what to ask and what to do, and they take care of so many things that we only have to provide a minimum amount of input to get what we need done. I can now focus on using the data to design tests that result in a better product.”

The constant monitoring also makes for a far more efficient testing process. Customers get data quickly, instead of waiting months until a test is complete to begin analysis. Also, constant monitoring brings to light any issues that disrupt data collection immediately.

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

Author Information:
Ryan Welker
Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM), LLC

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