How to Develop Turnkey Test Solutions for Marine Product Development

For product manufacturers and development companies that test products for compliance, QA, and improved efficiencies, finding accurate and reliable test solutions can be a challenge. For starters, standard solutions that meet the precise needs of a specific industry are not always readily available out of the box. The testing environment, materials, and processes can be complex and constantly changing.


For example, testing may need automatic configuration, control, and failure detection of high-voltage dielectric materials. Other solutions have been sought to add new measurement capability with concern for code reuse, robust design, and long-term maintenance.

In this blog, I'll discuss some of the testing problems that can reduce productivity and profitability for product companies, and show how our automated test team overcame those problems to develop test solutions for marine product development.



Off-the-Shelf Applications Aren't Enough

To configure these types of test solutions using off-the-shelf applications requires skills in adapting those specific applications and in integrating them with a variety of components across the enterprise. This leads to the second challenge in developing test applications: In marine product development as in other sectors, companies often don't have the resources internally to customize automated test applications.

For example, the assembly and test procedures for marine transmissions are complicated based on the variety of end user applications, including pleasure craft, commercial, and military. In addition, the suppliers differ greatly between manual operating modes and electronic controllers. Yet, in quality marine product development, tracking of assembled component options and proper testing of each installed option is critical to producing and delivering the correct transmission to fit the need.

Developing this type of test application requires more than the standard skill set required for test and measurement integration. For that reason, many marine product development companies work with a qualified engineering and manufacturing partner that provides automated, turnkey test solutions.

The Solution: Transmission Assembly Attributes + Test Results

One marine product development company needed a turnkey test and measurement system to simplify testing of their transmissions, along with a customizable historical database with worldwide user access. They knew they needed a way to combine the attributes of transmission assemblies with test results and allow for those results to be viewed on a secure online database.

They set out to address both the complexity of options within their product and their limited internal resources by seeking an external test solutions provider with expertise in both National Instruments components and enterprise integration involving databases, applications, remote panels, and user authentication.

Working closely with the company's staff, Tecnova was able to design a web application that allows technicians to record various marine transmission assembly parameters at multiple, staged assembly stations. Each assembly station authenticates valid system users against Active Directory using LDAP. Once assembled, transmissions progress to one of two specially designed test stands. The National Instruments PXI platform provides all signal I/O and computing capabilities. A PXI-1042 chassis houses an embedded processor module and provides connectivity to all sensors and control devices.

The equipment is mounted in a standard 19" rack-mount enclosure. Test results are appended to assembly data tables within the common database using the web service and tools also created by Tecnova. Ultimately, the client now has a database-centric test solution that contains assembly details that are automatically viewable and searchable online.

This is a classic example of a company in a complex industry with limited internal resources—that found a solution with external expertise. 

What test solutions does your company need? If you work in marine product development, or any other complex industry, have you reached a point where outside resources could help?

FREE PROJECT CONSULTATION  Talk to one of our experts about your  electronic contract manufacturing,  engineering, or test solutions project.


Topics: Electronic Engineering