Process Automation Uses NI CompactRIO PAC Platform for Low-Cost, High-Speed Deterministic Control System
NI CompactRIO platform provides all data acquisition, processing, and control functions in a low-cost, high-speed deterministic control system.
"Coupled with National Instruments strong reputation for solid-performing technology and high value-to-the-dollar ratio, the CompactRIO platform emerged as the most cost-effective solution for the application."
- Greg Sussman,
Providing our customer, Penn Engineering, with a means of acquiring high-speed analog data on multiple channels, running custom processing algorithms, and providing deterministic control to operate their new verifiable fastener installation (VFI) tool.
Using National Instruments CompactRIO platform to provide all of the data acquisition, processing, and control functions of the system.
Greg Sussman - Process Automation
At Process Automation Corporation, our customer, Penn Engineering, asked us to create an application that acquires high-speed analog data on multiple channels, runs custom processing algorithms, and provides deterministic control to operate their new verificable fastener installation tool (VFI).
If we failed to terminate the installation process at the correct point, we would reduce the holding power of the fastener due to incomplete seating or damage due to excessive force. Therefore, we had to calculate the proper stopping point in real time, during the acquisition, as torque and displacement values varied when fastening to materials of different density and thickness. We installed one of the VFI tool applications on the end of a robotic arm in a vehicle manufacturing plant. As a result of the requirements of this application, we sought out a platform that provided a robust, industrial-grade chassis with low weight, high reliability, and a small footprint.
We chose the NI CompactRIO platform to provide all of the data acquisition, processing, and control functions of the system. A short beta test of a preproduction CompactRIO unit provided proof-positive testing that this platform would meet all the project requirements.
CompactRIO Increases Speed for Data Acquisition and Processing
The largest benefit Process Automation has seen with CompactRIO is its ability to acquire and process data from system sensors at speeds normally reserved for data acquisition cards running on a PC platform, or on very high-cost, custom hardware solutions. Because of the small footprint and embedded system operation, Process Automation could develop stand-alone, embedded applications for hardware control with a much shorter and less expensive development cycle.
When migrating to the CompactRIO system, Process Automation could use the majority of their existing code and ported it to the NI LabVIEW Real-Time and FPGA platforms. In addition to the quick integration cycle, CompactRIO hardware costs approximately $4,500 less per system to implement than the previous data acquisition technology running on a standard computer. During the development cycle, Process Automation also discovered that CompactRIO provided enough processing horsepower so multiple fastener installation tools could operate off a single CompactRIO system. In their previous system, each tool required a separate computer and acquisition card. In addition to the cost savings, the real-time processing and data storage capability of the system made it possible for the VFI tool to not only install the fastener, but also to log critical parameters regarding the installation process. These parameters provided traceability of each fastener installation and tool maintenance data.
Coupled with National Instruments strong reputation for solid-performing technology and high value-to-the-dollar ratio, the CompactRIO platform emerged as the most cost-effective solution for the application.
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