Caterpillar’s integrator uses NI’s LabView, PXI to refine scale-model testing

To streamline design evaluation at far less cost than full-scale prototyping,National Instruments (NI) reports that Caterpillar Inc. recently picked a combination of NI’s LabView software and real-time PXI hardware to perform scale-model testing of its earth-moving machines.

11/04/2004


To streamline design evaluation at far less cost than full-scale prototyping, National Instruments (NI) reports that Caterpillar Inc. recently picked a combination of NI’s LabView software and real-time PXI hardware to perform scale-model testing of its earth-moving machines. By using NI software and hardware, engineers can evaluate and optimize product performance without costly full-scale prototype evaluation.

NI’s PXI real-time platform, LabView Real-Time Module, and LabView Simulation Interface Toolkit reportedly increase the flexibility, speed, and effectiveness of scale-model testing. Using these products, engineers can modify parameters of The MathWorks Inc.’s Simulink model of an earth-moving machine in LabView before testing the design with their specialized, robotic, earth-moving equipment. This allows them to perform an initial evaluation for the functioning of an entire machine design before completing the costly step of full-scale prototyping.

Rob Humfeld, a senior product engineer for NI’s system integrator, Innoventor Inc., helped build the machine modeling system for Caterpillar. The system consists of two separate computer processors, each running the LabView program. The first, a desktop PC, includes the user interface for the system, and collects data with NI’s PCI image acquisition board during a test. The second, a real-time PXI controller, controls the test process and collects analog data. A hydraulic robot physically performs the test by controlling a scale model of a machine bucket that digs into a pile of soil. Transducers provide position, load and torque feedbacks to the real-time control system.
"Because of its flexible and modular nature, engineers can adapt this LabView-based system to similar scale-model systems for a variety of machinery, and multiply savings and increasing benefits across other product lines," adds Humfeld.

—Jim Montague, news editor, Control Engineering, jmontague@reedbusiness.com





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