Our client, a major manufacturer of vacuum interrupters located in the Milwaukee / Chicago area uses Synthetic Testing to characterize the contact life of their products. When it became necessary to upgrade their test cell to more modern apparatus, Sentient Revolution came in and performed the full upgrade.
Our test software controls several components, some with microsecond timing requirements including: contactors to control the charging of capacitor banks up to 180 kV, a plasma gap to initiate a current of up 28 kA, a laser gap to close a circuit of up to 180 kV, a motion controller to precisely control the acutation of the vacuum interrupter under test, triggering of an auxiliary recloser, high speed simultaneous acquisition of multiple voltage, current, and position waveforms. All control and data acquisition is performed via 2 PXI chassis connected via fiber optic links to a Windows PC. The software also processes the software through a variety of data processing alogorithms in order to automatically anomalies and failures in the test cell as well as the UUT. The software automatically sends status emails to test operators, logs all raw and processed test data, provides a comprehensive operator interface, and provides a comprehensive post-processing and reporting interface.
The LabVIEW / NI solution reduced the clients test time from approximately two weeks per unit to 12 hours per unit. Because the test cell is nearly fully automated, operator labor dropped from approximately 80 hours per UUT to approximately 4 hours per UUT. Aside from the labor savings, the client was able to significantly speed up product development cycles due to the quicker turnaround time in validation testing and data post-processing.