New NI data-logging software addresses key automotive challenges

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National Instruments (NI), the provider of a software-defined platform that helps accelerate the development and performance of automated test and automated measurement systems, today announced FlexLogger configuration-based data-logging software for validation test. With intuitive workflows and integrated data management, FlexLogger helps automotive test departments quickly capture accurate, well-documented data to verify system functionality in real-world conditions and comply with strict government regulations.

Technology innovations in areas like active safety, electrification and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication are disrupting how the automotive industry designs, tests and produces vehicles. Rapidly evolving components and systems including sensor fusion, high-capacity batteries and deep learning demand a higher volume of testing with accurate, traceable results to exceed safety-critical expectations for quality and reliability. These trends are pulling automotive test departments in different directions, intensifying challenges to build increasingly complex, mixed-measurement test systems under compressed timelines, while managing the explosive growth of collected data.

Engineers can use FlexLogger to help simplify test configurations and extract key insights with sensor-specific workflows to acquire and log synchronized, mixed measurements – no programming required. They can quickly integrate analog sensors, digital pulse frequencies, CAN signals and calculated channels that are all logged to the universal Technical Data Management Streaming (TDMS) file format, so data can be correlated and analyzed to accurately characterize an entire system. These capabilities also address similar challenges faced by test departments in other industries including heavy equipment, aerospace, appliances and academic research.

For example, heavy equipment manufacturers like CNH Industrial design and produce variations of powertrain systems for different vehicles like agricultural machines, construction equipment, trucks and buses. Each system has unique specifications for functionality and performance, which means every test has different requirements to integrate new sensors and industrial protocols.

“Characterizing a combine harvester drivetrain requires a mix of different measurements including pressure, temperature, current, CAN and shaft speed,” said Andy Tarman, lab test engineer at CNH Industrial. “FlexLogger makes it easier to troubleshoot and verify that the raw data from different sensors are correct before I start my test. This helps shorten test development by saving time typically wasted on redoing configurations.”

These configuration-based workflows are the cornerstone that now empower technicians to streamline test development, integrate new measurements and manage data using NI’s flexible software platform and modular hardware. For example, leveraging NI’s data management expertise, FlexLogger automatically logs descriptive metadata about the test configuration including sensor and hardware acquisition settings for easier traceability. Test departments can improve access to data and effectively communicate results to the organization using DIAdem data management software to find, analyze and report on FlexLogger data.

To meet demands like testing higher complexity DUTs and shorter timeframes, engineers need tools tailored to their needs that they can efficiently use through their workflow, helping them to meet their exact application requirements. FlexLogger is the latest addition to NI’s software-centric platform that features products tailored to needs within distinct stages of their workflow – products that have been adopted in whole or in part by more than 300,000 active users. With LabVIEW engineering system design software at its core, DIAdem data management software handling overall data analytics and reporting and SystemLink™ managing assets and data, this workflow improves the productivity of test and validation labs across many industries. Each piece of the workflow is also interoperable with third-party software to maximize code/IP reuse and draws on the LabVIEW Tools Network ecosystem of add-ons and tools for more application-specific requirements.