Portable DAQ System for Aerospace Assembly Line

April 1, 2024

Project Features:
NI PXI-Based Data Acquisition system, Portable Pelican Case, Ruggedized Connectors, Mounting System

Portable DAQ Pelican case

The Challenge

The client, a leading global aerospace company, wanted to replace outdated test systems utilized in the final assembly of airplanes. These systems, maneuvered on carts, depended on manual data logging. The company aimed to initiate a transition to a digital system highlighting enhanced data acquisition capabilities.

To accomplish this objective, the aerospace manufacturer had been striving to acquire a portable, ruggedized Data Acquisition (DAQ) system that could seamlessly interface with diverse test systems mounted on wheeled carts. However, despite internal endeavors and collaboration with other solution providers, no suitable system was found.

The portable DAQ system had to meet strict ergonomic limits to ensure worker safety. It had to acquire data from analog and digital channels. The portable DAQ system also required high-performance hardware to improve efficiency.

Previous attempts with less rugged systems resulted in errors and operational setbacks. Thus, the new system had to be compact enough for easy mobility by a single individual between different test carts around the aircraft. Inadequate ruggedization led to increased downtime, repair complexities, and reduced throughput.

Updating the test system was crucial for enhancing efficiency and ensuring accurate validation of aircraft systems before they left the aerospace assembly line.

The Solution

ACS provided a solution featuring an NI-based PXI system housed within a portable Pelican case.

The test system had a commercial PC interface, which provided a familiar user experience for workers and is easily replaced if needed. It utilized military standard connectors with bayonet-style coupling so the test case can withstand repeated insertions, increasing its durability and reliability.

To meet performance requirements, an NI PXI chassis was used to support a wide range of data acquisition cards and provide a Commercial available Off The Shelf (COTS) solution that can be modified in the future. ACS engineers validated the design to ensure the layout of the chassis and the installed cards optimized packaging and serviceability, with a simplified design and clarity for maintenance.

The design also integrated the hardware in a manner aimed at safeguarding it against the frequent handling of the system. Both the PC and the NI chassis utilize rubber isolation mounts and custom brackets engineered by the ACS team to shield all installed hardware from vibrations and shocks arising from the strains of regular movement. An extra layer of protection was incorporated through the utilization of components with the necessary shock and vibration ratings, along with SSD hardware for the PC.

Every component, encompassing diverse ventilation and safety attributes, inside the case was meticulously integrated to meet stringent space constraints, guaranteeing system stability and integrity. ACS’ expertise in layout design and construction facilitated the smooth integration of a high-performance NI data acquisition system into the Pelican case, meeting the client’s requirements for exceptional performance, portability, and durability.

The Outcome

ACS delivered a portable PXI-based data acquisition system, significantly upgrading the client’s aircraft testing capabilities on the aerospace assembly line. By automating data collection and enabling real-time trending data reports, accuracy and efficiency greatly improved.

Despite challenges in fitting equipment within tight constraints while maintaining ergonomic requirements, ACS delivered a well-organized internal wiring system, complete with labeled components and wire ferrules for easy identification and maintenance.

This easily supportable system meets the rigorous demands of many industries, providing manufacturers with a rugged system ready for immediate deployment. ACS’ expertise in both design and construction uniquely positions them to address the complex challenges of building these intricate and contained systems, offering clients high-performance solutions tailored to their needs.

Key Features

  • NI PXI-based data acquisition system
  • Complete system within an ergonomically friendly wheeled Pelican case that’s easily transported to various test carts
  • Ruggedized connectors designed to withstand frequent cable insertion and removal, ensuring long-term durability
  • Mounting system to fully ruggedize the test system from shock and vibration
  • High-performance solution that meets stringent ergonomic requirements

ACS Services

  • Electrical design and component specification
  • Constructing hardware design
  • System documentation
  • Factory acceptance testing