Our equipment is in daily use in R&D labs and on production lines. Our skills and experience can provide you with the instrumentation and custom equipment you need. We can provide the mechanical design, the control system design and programming, and the process development. We can be the project manager for you and do a full ‘turn-key’ project or be a member of your team to provide part of your system.
Although each instrumentation/equipment project has its own unique requirements, most projects fall into one of four broad categories: 1) Develop custom equipment, 2) Upgrade existing equipment, 3) Purchase 'standard' equipment, or 4) Purchase and modify equipment.
Develop custom equipment:
Some representative custom equipment projects:
Turn-key product tester: Working with the client to develop the requirements and configuration for a 10 station product tester, we went from first discussions to delivered system in 16 weeks. To date, four systems have been deployed with lead-times as short as 7 weeks. For more details click here.
Embedded control system: Our client needed a cost effective motion control system for a DVD vending machine with an expected production volume of 50 systems/month. We developed a very cost effective micro-controller based system that drives two stepper motors, two dc motors, and several solenoids. In this project, the client’s client was developing the product’s human interface and sending commands to the control board. To aid the development project we also created a Windows based interface our client could use to test the rest of their design. To see a copy of the documentation for the development interface click here (PDF file).
Control system for R&D instrumentation: A Senior Engineer in our client’s Global Technical group developed an improved method for taking fundamental measurements of their product’s performance. It required data acquisition and control capabilities well beyond their in-house abilities. We worked with them to select a data acquisition system to meet their needs and then developed the code to coordinate the high speed data acquisition and analysis with the multi-axis motion control system provided by a third party.
Upgrade existing equipment:
Sometimes products or needs evolve beyond the capabilities of your current equipment and the best way forward is not to throw out what you have, but to upgrade its control and/or data acquisition system. We are experienced in taking old LabVIEW code (even thinly documented code) and data acquisition systems and bringing them up-to-date. In one project we added a USB based data acquisition system and updated the code to not only increase the data rate by 100X, but also to directly generate Excel based test reports which eliminated many hours of tedious, error prone, busy work.
Purchase ‘standard’ equipment:
Purchasing a significant piece of capital equipment is seldom as easy as picking a model out of a catalog. Requirements for the equipment and the facility have to be defined, detailed purchase specifications written, and written quotes solicited, clarified and evaluated. Total system costs need to be calculated: purchase costs, facility and installation costs, as well as operating costs. We have facilitated and managed this process (or parts of this process) for many systems including CNC machining centers, an electron microscope, vapor degreasers, ultrasonic cleaning systems and a tunnel oven system.
Purchase and modify equipment:
Often the best solution for a ‘custom’ need is to purchase a piece of equipment and modify it for a specific use. An example: A client needed equipment and a process to solder an assembly that was much larger than any of their then current products. They came to us for help. Working with them we first defined their requirements and developed a plan and timeline for getting them on line in time for their product launch. We located a used moving platen press, designed modified platens, product fixturing, material handling equipment, and safety guards. The client designed some material handling equipment and installed the line. We developed the process, worked with their quality department to qualify it, helped write the process documentation and assisted with the start-up of the line.
To complete our projects we have to be able to wear many hats and work across many disciplines. Some of the services we provide include:
Motion control integration
Data acquisition system design and integration
Embedded control design and integration (using PIC microcontrollers)
LabVIEW development and integration
Sensor signal conditioning system selection
System assembly and integration
Process development and documentation
Mechanical design and fabrication
Equipment specification and evaluation