Designing a test system for reuse throughout a product's development flow requires flexible software and versatile hardware. The software tools must provide connectivity to design and manufacturing tools to reuse data throughout the flow. The measurement hardware must have the versatility to meet the diverse measurement needs in design and characterization, and the throughput requirements in functional test. The combination of LabVIEW software and modular PXI-based measurement hardware meets these needs.
The intuitive graphical programming of LabVIEW gives engineers a platform on which to develop and iterate on measurement applications quickly. LabVIEW programs are optimized for performance and compiled to machine code, so they also execute fast, which is essential to use in automated manufacturing.
LabVIEW is an open and flexible software environment. Anyone can create LabVIEW VIs (virtual instruments) to connect an application to third-party hardware and software. Using this flexible interface, many companies have integrated connectivity into LabVIEW for a large number of popular electronic design (SPICE, Multisim, Ansoft), mechanical design (MSC.Adams, I-DEAS), electro-mechanical (MatrixX, Simulink), and Math (Matlab, Mathematica, MathCad) tools. With this connectivity, a design engineer can compare real-world measurements from their prototypes with the expected results from their design and simulation tools in LabVIEW to more quickly find and address design issues earlier in the development process. Further downstream, these design signals can be reused to define test limits for validation and production systems, maximizing efficiency and reuse throughout the process.
LabVIEW delivers similar connectivity in manufacturing test. LabVIEW and TestStand, a test management environment for highly automated testing, have connectivity to a breadth of databases, MES, quality control, and data management tools. This combination of connectivity to both design and manufacturing results in efficient reuse of test programs throughout the product development flow.
Reusing the same hardware in design and manufacturing presents some challenges. Designer engineers need very precise measurements and flexible measurement capability to characterize new product designs. In manufacturing test, measurement devices must be fast and cost effective. Modular PXI instrumentation meets these challenges. Modular instrumentation combines flexible hardware for generating stimulus or acquiring data with software for performing measurement analysis. This architecture is very flexible because the user can design custom measurements to meet specific applications.
Modular instrumentation uses commercial technology to deliver accuracy and speed at a low cost. Commercial A/Ds and D/As are used to acquire and generate very accurate signals. Modern bus technologies are used to increase the speed of modular instrumentation versus stand-alone equivalents.
Using LabVIEW and PXI, you can create measurement systems that span from design to manufacturing, delivering efficient reuse, lowering test development time, and overall cutting test cost.