Increased efficiency in the test bench: What really counts

Test and measurement equipment is a critical factor affecting the quality of the test bench of the future

The good old test bench—it now has to reinvent itself. In times of high cost and time pressure, it is essential that test series taken in test benches can be seamlessly integrated into the development processes. However, every test bench is only as good as the measurement technology used in it.

Development engineers in technology companies worldwide are facing tougher competition. Development times become ever shorter, requirements on products are increasing—and there is constant cost pressure. Test cycles need to seamlessly integrate into development processes. On the one hand, more data needs to be analyzed; on the other hand, time is extremely short. For test benches, this means the concepts and work flows used so far need to be put to test again.

Test bench facing new challenges

Next-generation test benches will go up against the following three mega trends:

  • The time available for tests becomes ever shorter.
  • The complexity and diversity of testing tasks is increasing.
  • The number of measuring points is constantly growing—a trend that was confirmed in a worldwide survey conducted by HBM.

In short, it is imperative to measure more in even less time, with the highest demands on measurement accuracy. And yet another trend is that test benches increasingly perform tasks that have been carried out in complex, mobile, 'on the road' tests up to this point.

Demands on measurement technology

Traditional test bench concepts no longer will be able to keep pace with these trends. To guarantee optimal utilization of the test bench and minimize overall setup times, work flows need to be redefined. It is essential that the technology used comply with these new concepts. Maximum flexibility is what counts—this also applies to the measurement technology used! A new generation of modular test instruments is required because every test bench is only as good as the measurement technology used in it.

The universal measuring amplifier system QuantumX by HBM provides reliable, precise data acquisition and ultra-modern functions that are optimally tailored to these increasing demands. BMW's new BA6.2 test bench center for testing drive trains is a prominent application example.

Flexible bench testing of engine, powertrain and driveline components using QuantumX

The mega trends in detail:

Automation of measurement tasks

The trend: Ever shorter time windows for increasingly automated test procedures
The solution: Integration of high-precision measurement technology in the automation environment

The automation of measurement tasks is a crucial factor in making test benches more efficient. Automating complete test tasks enables different scenarios to be 'tested'. Important: The test equipment that is used needs to be able to provide the right data and to automatically adjust to different test procedures.

HBM's QuantumX amplifier system is the optimal solution to this task. The CX27 QuantumX module allows connection of the complete measurement system to the automation system including all its central and/or distributed measuring amplifiers. Real-time data exchange is guaranteed. However, the automation system gets support when taking measurements. FireWire or Ethernet permits 'classical' connection of QuantumX to the PC and the customary measurement software.

Minimizing setup times

The trend: Frequently varying test tasks with different test specimens
The solution: Minimizing setup times through automatic sensor identification

An increasing number of test tasks is transferred to the test bench - either to save time and money in mobile tests or to ensure maximum test bench utilization. It is thus essential to avoid time consuming modifications and long setup times.

Automatic sensor identification via TEDS, the electronic data sheet in the transducer, is an excellent option for reducing setup times. The measurement electronics identifies the transducer type and automatically configures the channel as soon as the transducer has been connected to the amplifier. The software instantly displays the measured values.

QuantumX, HBM's state-of-the-art data acquisition systems goes even further. It offers 'APM', Advance Plug and Measure, including automatic sensor identification via TEDS and other features. QuantumX modules automatically detect a new transducer being connected. Universal connector sockets for all common transducer types make time-consuming replacement of plug-in cards a thing of the past. This reduces setup times to the absolute minimum and enables users to dedicate the little time available in the test bench to actual testing.

Scalability: Ready for higher channel counts

The trend: Changing sensors and ever increasing channels counts
The solution: A freely scalable system with universal measurement technology that can be easily upgraded and allows both distributed and centralized use.

The one clear, worldwide trend that can be identified in test-bench measurement technology is the following: Different sensors are used during the life of a test bench and channel counts are constantly increasing. The number of functions to be tested is steadily growing, changed parameters and components require increasingly accurate testing.

However, the increasing number of channels does not necessarily mean that the test bench itself becomes bigger - nor is there enough room for 'large' measuring amplifiers.

QuantumX by HBM is the right solution to this challenge too. The individual QuantumX amplifier modules are very compact and thus fit into the smallest test bench. The test task determines which modules are required for performing a specific test or analysis. QuantumX provides universal inputs and a wide choice of transducer technologies. The distributed use of modules enables sensors with pre-assembled, short cables to be used and thus a modular measuring setup to be implemented.

To sum up: Measurement technology needs to be in line with modern test bench concepts

Test benches perform increasingly complex tasks. The test benches, their design and their tasks have been put to the test. Both measurement technology and software hold the key to success.

Test equipment used should

  • allow universal use
  • provide scaling options and be able to adapt to day-to-day demands
  • permit use with common automation systems
  • be precise and powerful.

What remains is the question of how to process and understand millions and millions of generated measurement data. Eventually, the software used for recording and analyzing measurement data is crucial to the success of a test bench.

Here again, QuantumX by HBM relies on innovative concepts. A whole bundle of software solutions supports the use of the amplifier system. Ranging from catman®AP, professional software for parameterization, recording and analysis of measurement data through to QuantumX Assistant software for fast, hardware-related parameterization. In addition, measured values can be monitored via the web server integrated in every amplifier - easy to to use and to access from everywhere.

The next-generation test bench: It will play a key role in the global race for the best developments and the fastest market access. Modern measurement technology will provide more than pure results and data: It is the key to increased efficiency in the test bench.

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The solution:

QuantumX

High precision and excellent performance of test and measurement equipment is mandatory in development test benches. QuantumX convinces through:

  • Reliability: High quality measurement data for challenging tasks
  • Universality: Support for all current transducer technologies
  • Flexibility: For centralized or distributed use

A prominent application example is BMW's new BA6.2 test bench center for testing drive trains:

Flexible bench testing of engine, powertrain and driveline components using QuantumX

Read the QuantumX online brochure

QuantumX data acquisition system online brochure