Flexible analysis system for engine testing data
Customer: DEUTZ AG
Area: Automotive industry / R&D
Requirements: Data management for over 60 engine test benches, roughly 50,000 tests per year
Implementation: measX software X-Frame in connection with the DataFinder Server Edition from National Instruments
Toolbox for the engineers
The initial situation
DEUTZ AG is one of the world’s leading independent manufacturers of diesel engines for commercial vehicles and motorized equipment. In the area of research and development at the Cologne-Porz location, over 60 engine test benches of various manufacturers are used to test engines and their components. Due in no small part to new statutory exhaust standards, the testing requirements have risen considerably over time.
Every year, roughly 50,000 tests are carried out here. The resulting measurement data was previously analyzed using a large number of different software tools and an internally developed analysis program. With the ever complexer analysis tasks and the constantly expanding volume of data, however, these tools were no longer up to the task.
A powerful and future-proof system that could be used by all specialized departments was desired for the test data evaluation. This software was to cover all functions of the previous system while also taking new requirements into account. DEUTZ wanted to be able to maintain and expand the analysis tool on its own, and it had to be possible to quickly and easily find the collected measurement data even after longer periods.
The DEUTZ Evaluation Tool (DET) was developed in close cooperation with the customer. The core of the system is the measX software X-Frame, which is based on DIAdem from National Instruments.
DIAdem is an established, powerful tool for the management and evaluation of measurement data, and X-Frame offers a platform for adapting DIAdem to individual requirements and conditions. X-Frame brings with it all the fundamental functionality. The evaluation algorithms, dialogs, user guidance and program control only need to be parameterized for the specific customer needs.
In a few months, the base system for DET was built up, with newly organized data storage and a foundation of DEUTZ-specific functions. The pilot users were trained in the system, allowing them to create their own formulas and layouts specific to their work, supported when necessary by measX.
The extensive body of around 800 formulas that had grown up over the years was trimmed down to what was necessary. Functions of the old system that were still required were transferred over, formulas were merged and new functionality and analysis types were integrated as needed.
Parameterization instead of programming
For every test, users can freely parameterize all formulas and evaluations without any special programming work. For this purpose, X-Frame provides an extensive library of formulas and other functions, including a formula editor and a special formula debugger. The latter depicts the calculation path and all intermediate results in graphical form, allowing even complex formulas to be quickly and conveniently analyzed. Explanations of the new formulas are contained in the source code, and these are used to automatically generate detailed help information.
Efficient creation of custom evaluations
Custom-tailored input dialogs and menus support the typical workflows of the engineers. After selection of the data, analysis type and layout, the chosen analysis processes are executed automatically. Whether an initial, quick check of the data or the evaluation of predefined tests – only the currently required measurement channels, formulas and attributes are loaded and calculated, ensuring that results are available quickly.
System design guarantees reliability
DET is started from a central network drive. Not only does this make system maintenance extremely simple, it also ensures that every user is automatically working with the current, tested version and exclusively uniform reports are generated in line with the corporate design.
In addition to the central application, personal workspaces exist for each user for defining their own formulas and layouts. If these evaluations are of interest to a larger number of users, they can also be easily made available centrally as a new tool for everyone.
Open to all data
The DEUTZ development testing environment is very heterogeneous: Data comes not only from the test benches but also from engine control devices, independent temperature, pressure and differential pressure sensors as well as from other measurement equipment from various manufacturers. Depending on the test bench and test setup, a wide variety of different measurement data formats and structures are produced. Data drivers developed specially for DET ensure that all data formats can be read and processed together.
Organized data storage
A convenient data management system was realized based on DataFinder Server Edition from National Instruments. All test data is saved on a central file server in an orderly fashion. DataFinder Server monitors directories on this server and builds a table of contents for all data records, including the associated descriptive information. These include, for example, information about the test bench, the aggregates used and the test procedure. Based on this meta data, it is possible to search directly for measurement data from DET.
During the system introduction, over 600,000 existing data records were integrated and supplemented with meta data as far as possible.
In practical use
Today, DET is the central analysis software for engine development at DEUTZ and is used successfully by over 70 engineers. The acceptance is especially high because the system greatly simplifies daily work.
Users are able to quickly and specifically access over 1.5 terabytes of measurement data.
DET represents an intelligent “toolbox” for a wide range of evaluations. Even extensive formulas and layouts can be created and maintained in-house, and the associated documentation is generated automatically. The software can be adapted flexibly to new conditions and requirements, allowing it to become increasingly capable.
The analysis system is also future-proof thanks to its system architecture. As an established platform with a broad user base, X-Frame is under continuous development.
DEUTZ relies on a multi-level support and training concept to ensure the long-term quality of DET. For more complex tasks, questions and special training needs, measX is always available to the development department as a competent, reliable partner.
Practical solution for the DEUTZ engine testing facility:
- Uniform organization and analysis of large data volumes
- Individual evaluations and reports
- Central maintenance
- Flexibly extensible
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