Test & measurement

Achieving seamless test operations


I has announced the enterprise version of SystemLink software. By standardising the way data is shared

and analysed, the new enterprise version enables increased visibility and control of test systems across an entire organisation. In this way, SystemLink software serves as an important bridge between engineering and manufacturing departments in their efforts to improve overall operational efficiencies and drive digital transformation initiatives. In today’s unpredictable business

environment, an organisation’s ability to leverage test insights can have a profound impact on whether it remains competitive or not. Data can be an organisation’s greatest asset when used to make more informed decisions. It can also be a drain on time and resources when it creates incompatible silos. SystemLink software connects test workflows to business performance, linking people, processes and technology across the enterprise, from engineering to production to the field. In addition to helping companies achieve

savings and efficiency gains, the new version also frees up engineers’ time. Instead of performing time-consuming tasks such as manually configuring systems, tracking down critical assets or searching through data,

engineers can focus on quickly spotting patterns and proactively addressing issues before they become a problem. “Freeing up engineers to focus on the work that has the largest impact for their organisation is smart business,” says Josh Mueller, VP of Experience at NI. “But it is also one of the core components of our company mission — elevating and empowering the engineer.” Cree Lighting, a leading

manufacturer of indoor, outdoor and consumer lighting, has implemented real-time data monitoring and display, post-test analysis and factory

management tools using SystemLink software. “SystemLink enables our production floor to step into the future. It equips us with the visibility to respond to market conditions more quickly while optimising our team’s production efforts all around the world,” says Ian Yeager, test engineering manager at Cree Lighting. “Now, I spend less time managing deployments and post-processing data and more time using the built-in tools to take care of low-hanging opportunities and improve efficiency for my team.” The new version of SystemLink software is

NI’s first hardware-agnostic systems and data management tool. The announcement of enterprise support underscores NI’s enterprise software strategy to help customers accelerate digital transformation efforts by coupling test operations with advanced product analytics enabled through its recent acquisition of OptimalPlus. By unlocking the value of test data and allowing more groups across an enterprise to work together, NI is helping connect the bold people, ideas and technologies required to push our world forward.


collision can result in injury to a human co- worker; at best, damage to static infrastructure or other equipment. Either way, the implications are serious for any organisation, an accident is costly and potentially tragic. While anti-collision measures will typically be coded into software routines, this is not always sufficient. In a manufacturing cell, robotic handling systems build electromechanical sub-assemblies before presenting them for automated testing. At each stage, parts are transported between operations by compact, multi-finger robot grippers, which are programmed individually according to the geometry of both the parts and the production equipment. As the products develop over time, the


routines that control their manufacture also evolve. If conflicts between neighbouring robots are not eliminated completely, or if


ollision avoidance is an absolute priority for automation engineers implementing robotic handling systems. At worst, a

unplanned human intervention occurs, there is an unacceptable risk of an accident. A cost- effective hardware solution is required to provide overriding anti-collision protection if this situation arises. Production engineers specified grippers fitted with Contrinex MiniDist photoelectric sensor modules as a reliable and cost-effective means of measuring the proximity of obstructions in real time. When transporting parts between operations, these miniature distance sensors, embedded in the outward-facing surfaces of the gripper jaws, monitor the position of potential obstructions during travel. MiniDist sensors are designed with the needs of OEMs and system integrators in mind and provide an unobtrusive fit-and-forget solution. These miniature devices weigh only 3.1 grams, and with a compact 4mm x 4mm x 11mm envelope and no external housing, they allow easy integration in tight spaces with insufficient room for traditional devices.

With sensing distances of up to 40mm, MiniDist devices offer designers highly versatile options when specifying equipment. An industry-standard PNP analogue output ensures optimum flexibility, with an output range of 0.3V to 3V allowing scope for in-situ adjustment. Connection is via a four-wire PVC- sheathed cable with a 2m standard length.

October 2020 Instrumentation Monthly

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