This was a project for another GE facility that was performing cyclic testing on a piece of equipment called an H4 connector. They were expecting to perform the same series of hydraulic functions over 500 times, with each complete cycle taking around 20-30 minutes. Rather than have a technician manually actuate the various functions of the connector repeatedly (as they have done in the past), I was tasked to automate the process and acquire data from pressure sensors and LVDT position sensors.
I went to the facility to understand the test setup and required connections. I worked with one of my instrumentation technicians to acquire the appropriate sensors while I got to work on the programming and test system wiring. I put a cRIO, data acquisition cards, power supplies, relays, and an E-stop in a Pelican case to protect against any spray from the connector's functions. The end result I hooked into their existing test skid as shown below:
The LabVIEW program I wrote included data acquisition with sensor information tracking and calibration date verification. The automated testing included safety limits at every step, and the state transitions were determined by the testing procedure. At any time, the technician could pause the system or start cycling at any step in the process. Here is the software in action with the live data feed from a few cycles:
After a day of bug fixes and another day of training, the system performed well and was used to complete hundreds of cycles. The engineer on the project was pleased with the performance and gave me the following feedback:
"Thank you for all the support on the [connector] test. Your knowledge an expertise in Labview has allowed us to go from 20 cycles a day to 50 cycles a day using automation. This is a clear example of the GE Belief Learn and adapt to win by monitoring the test and making improvements along the way to help the test run smoother."