Kingsbury: Interface reduces software design time

Leading test equipment manufacturer, George Kingsbury Machine Tools Ltd, has reduced its software design time by around 25 per cent, following its switch to HBM’s data analysis software, catman® with ActiveX.

The company is a manufacturer of end-of-line testing equipment that verifies the correct assembly and quality of parts for car manufacturers all over the world.

The company’s core business is in powertrain testing, especially transmissions, transfer cases and axles. All of George Kingsbury’s products are custom made. Says Bill Stonier, controls manager at the company: “In almost every case our test stands are bespoke but we also use our many years of experience in the test stand field to adapt proven working designs rather than re-inventing the wheel”.

The catman® software is used as ActiveX add-ins to George Kingsbury’s standard Human Machine Interface (HMI) package in the test stands. ActiveX permits communication and data exchange by integrating the software’s functions directly into the user’s programs. Since this is now done automatically in the hardware, it reduces George Kingsbury’s software design time by around 25 per cent.

Each test stand undertakes a number of individual checks on a car component to gather all of the data needed by the manufacturer. The exact number and type of checks depends on the manufacturer’s requirements. Individual checks can take anywhere between 1 and 30 seconds with the data being gathered by HBM’s MGCplus and catman® in real time to record the component’s properties during the tests.

Tests are set up individually to give the customer flexibility in configuring the parameters and the pass/fail limits that are needed. Stonier says: “After the data has been analyzed we can assign a 'pass' or a 'fail' to each component. It is essential that faulty components are not shipped to the final end user.

Notes Stonier: “Switching to catman® has been a great benefit because it makes the sampling and analysis of real time data more straightforward.”

George Kingsbury initially switched to catman® after one customer required tests on two components that had to be conducted simultaneously. catman® was able to meet this requirement easily. Notes Stonier: “As we became aware of the product we could see the advantages and so we progressed to using it elsewhere”.

“A prime advantage for us,” remarks Stonier, “ is that we are able to show data in real terms. We can have the data as millimeters or bar, whatever is relevant, rather than in non-engineering values.”

Comments Stonier: “The customer is only interested in the real data that we record and analyze. When we test our customers products we can use HBM’s catman® as a way of showing him these real world values”.

Another advantage is that the catman® software allows the manufacturers to adjust their test stand test sequences. States Stonier: “It is important to us that our customers can re-program their machines to test a new component by themselves, unless there are extra signaling requirements or physical changes required to the test stand that would need our help.”

Because of its flexibility, measurement engineers can continue to work with their familiar programming language. For the engineers at George Kingsbury, this means that they continued working in Visual Basic and could use catman®’s comprehensive function library for the acquisition, evaluation and management of the data. This frees engineers to concentrate on their development or programming tasks while leaving the data evaluation and management to catman®.

Adds Stonier: “An advantage of catman® is that the system is easy to set up, it captured all the data via a very simple set of commands and was easy to program via the ActiveX commands. We also had the support of HBM's software engineers in Germany to clear any difficulties we had”.

This is not the first time that George Kingsbury has used HBM’s equipment. The company has used HBM’s T10F torque transducer for a number of years because of its compact size, reliability and high accuracy.

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