Raytheon Automates a Data Analysis, Data Management, and Report Generation Tool with NI DIAdem

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"We have reduced our reporting and analysis time by 95 percent and achieved our goal of replacing the current multistep process with a one-button DIAdem solution."

- Jim Knuff, Raytheon Missile Systems

The Challenge:
Reducing test cycle times through automation and providing a more systematic approach to the problem of cross-departmental test information management of exoatmospheric ballistic missile testing, thus providing a common tool for engineering groups to quickly evaluate and manage test products.

The Solution:
Using DIAdem to reduce test cycle time by 95 percent and to rapidly view test progress and product performance across multiple test units and integrated product teams.

Jim Knuff - Raytheon Missile Systems

At Raytheon Missile Systems, we build exoatmospheric ballistic missile interceptors that require design solutions from all engineering disciplines, including cryogenics, thermal, and propulsion. The tests we perform on these vehicles produce an array of data that spans all of these disciplines. Each group carefully crafts and validates their analysis techniques and typically prefers different analysis tools to ascertain performance.

Using DIAdem, we have created an automated and integrated solution built around a managed database for test data management, data analysis, and report generation. We use DIAdem to manage and sequence the connection to our standard analytical tools, including Mathematica, IDL, and The MathWorks, Inc. MATLAB® software through an ActiveX or COM interface, as well as using the integrated analysis functions that DIAdem offers.

With the DIAdem autosequence interface, we can communicate directly with our managed database and standard tools. We also use the DIAdem dialog editor to create sophisticated GUIs to control the analysis and report generation process. Every time we test a new unit, DIAdem automatically generates reports. Our test engineers immediately use these reports to view test results and determine whether additional testing is necessary. This reduces repeated tests and the acquisition of additional, unnecessary data. With DIAdem, we achieve rapid visibility of test progress and product performance across multiple test units and integrated product teams.

We use DIAdem software rather than using a single Visual Basic or C++ application for several reasons:

  • Ease of opening and manipulating data files with many discrete variables
  • Built-in functions for handling special data points (no value, outliers, etc.)
  • Built-in mathematical and statistical functions for data manipulation and analysis
  • Data visualization features to correlate results quickly and efficiently
  • Data reporting features to build dense reports quickly
  • Ease of integration with data collection applications, such as LabVIEW
  • The DIAdem application environment eases the development and reuse of this tool across several products and programs

Design Concept

We designed a database to manage our product test cycle. As we build-up and test a product, the database stores all test and build information. We use our DIAdem-based tool throughout each level of product testing for data management, analysis, and report generation. DIAdem guides our test engineers through the various subtests at each level of integration by coordinating the various analysis tools needed to produce test results, transfer the test information to the database for management, and finally generate reports.

We produced a flexible DIAdem-based tool with the necessary Visual Basic script “hooks” to communicate with the applications that we use. Similarly, the tool has a flexible set of customized DIAdem dialogs that the tester uses to control various aspects of this process. With the rapid prototyping capabilities of DIAdem scripts, we created the flexible tool and perform the detailed code process quickly. Because we dedicated the majority of our development effort to building this flexible tool, we have a high level of code reusability.

Developing a Flexible Tool for Reuse Based on DIAdem 

We developed a flexible tool that we can reuse in many products and programs with the following features:

  • A centralized, product-level database that supports product testing at several test-integration levels
  • A database that includes unit-test result tables, historic test tables, and statistical manufacturing or test process data tables that we instantiate for specific products and tests
  • A set of DIAdem dialogs to guide the tester through various management and analysis tasks.
  • A set of Visual Basic subroutines that communicate with all of our standard analysis and office software tools

DIAdem guides our test engineers through the following steps:

  • Select the database or database table to use during automatic report generation
  • Select the subtests to run and select test parameters
  • Select from a variety of graphical displays
  • Select the format of the report, including DIAdem, Microsoft Word, or Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Display quick-look test results

Testing Domains

We can use this approach under many test domains, including:

  • Multiple units tested with the same test procedure
  • Data that requires significant manipulation or analysis
  • Individual units tested multiple times with the same test procedure
  • Data that requires significant manipulation or analysis
  • Test data that requires time-intensive data analysis
  • Test requiring multiple data-analysis tools
  • Data analysis and report generation that need to be performed as quickly as possible
  • Test results, test products, or test reports requiring management and tractability
  • Multitest and unit-to-unit result comparisons required for evaluation of product performance

Reducing Test Cycle Time by 95 Percent

By using DIAdem, we can turn our data into usable results in minutes rather than days. We have documented an overall time reduction of 95 percent since we integrated DIAdem into our system. In addition, test engineers now quickly can see the results of their tests to determine whether additional testing is necessary, reducing repeated tests and the acquisition of unnecessary data. We can rapidly view test progress and product performance across multiple test units and integrated product teams. We use DIAdem as a bridge to coordinate activities between our dissimilar analytic software tools using previously validated analysis scripts. Through improved management of our test files and the aggregation of data onto large electronic storage media (DVDs), we have greatly improved accessibility and availability of test data.

MATLAB® is a registered trademark of The MathWorks, Inc. Other product and company names listed are trademarks and trade names of their respective companies.

Author Information:
Jim Knuff
Raytheon Missile Systems
Tucson, AZ
United States
Tel: (520) 794-9012

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