Engineers' Corner

The Signal.X Blog

Author Archives: Robert Hoffman

Platform Spotlight: STAX

Platform Spotlight: STAX

Since 2004, Signal.X Technologies has provided software and systems integration for complex end-of-line test systems and industrial automation. Controlling a production test system requires a multi-disciplinary team that brings together electrical, mechanical, hydraulic and controls knowledge. Done correctly, end-of-line test systems operate reliably day in and day out, while maintaining the level of flexibility needed to add new models, facilitate troubleshooting of components and provide the correct level of insight into the machine performance and health.

PLCs have traditionally been the primary solution to meeting this requirement, and are still the right choice for many machines. However, as these test systems become more complex, Signal.X has found that PLCs do not always satisfy the needs for high-speed data acquisition, signal processing, database interaction and more. In lieu of simply placing a PC next to a PLC on the production line, Signal.X created the STAX manufacturing test platform, built on the National Instruments CompactRIO hardware: Programmable Automation Controllers (PACs).

At its core, the STAX platform turns NI hardware (specifically the CompactRIO) into a PLC, but with the power of LabVIEW to acquire and log high-speed data, communicate to devices and more. STAX contains a ladder logic emulator that is used to program the behavior of the control system, with editing and monitoring tools very similar to a PLC.

Historically, manufacturing plants have not been receptive to LabVIEW and National Instruments as part of their production process. Although NI hardware has been accepted as high-quality and reliable, many plants believe that in order to maintain the systems over time they have to become LabVIEW experts. Asking a controls engineer who is an expert ladder logic programmer to also learn LabVIEW is an unrealistic expectation in most plants. STAX enables controls engineers and technicians to maintain and manage sophisticated test systems using programming that is familiar and intuitive.

Signal.X has been building the STAX platform for almost a decade, and it has stood the test of time by becoming a foundation for test and control systems large and small. We are excited to continue deploying new systems testing everything from seat tracks to dampers. Stay tuned to see how our experience with Shield and STAX can create test systems with unparalleled control and processing capability.

Platform Spotlight: Shield

Platform Spotlight: Shield

It has been 14 years since the initial conception of Shield, and we thought it appropriate to spend a moment in review to understand the evolution of the Shield platform as well as give you a preview of what the future looks like. Shield was created in 2004 with one purpose: to capitalize on the… Continue Reading

Stop, Drop, and Roll

Stop, Drop, and Roll

We were all taught as kids these three actions when faced with a fire emergency, and recently I have been thinking about how analogous they are to the phrase “fighting fires” in business. We all know what fire-fighting means in this context – all of us have lived through this to some extent at one… Continue Reading

Scout v2.1 Released!

Scout v2.1 Released!

Signal.X is excited to announce the latest release of Scout TDMS Editor to the LabVIEW Tools Network community. Scout continues to be one of the most downloaded software products on the Tools Network, and we have well over 1,000 registered users, and just last quarter we surpassed 10,000 downloads! Thank you to all the users… Continue Reading

Embedded Specialty

Embedded Specialty

Having recently gone through the ordeal of attaining my certification for LabVIEW Embedded Developer (CLED), I thought now was an opportune time to talk about why Signal.X is part of the Embedded Specialty partners, and what it really means. According to the NI website, the Embedded Specialty “recognizes partners with proven success in designing medium-… Continue Reading

Signal.X Engine Cold Test Systems

Signal.X Engine Cold Test Systems

An internal combustion engine is a very complex machine, both to design and to manufacture. By the 1980s, engine testing became increasingly important in the assembly plant to ensure defect-free, quality products. However, the technology of the time focused on hot test, which is running the engine with fuel and spark to mimic in-vehicle conditions.… Continue Reading

National Instruments Merges Specialties and Recognizes Signal.X as an NI Embedded Specialty Partner

National Instruments Merges Specialties and Recognizes Signal.X as an NI Embedded Specialty Partner

National Instruments has recently combined the Embedded Control Specialty and the Electronic Design Specialty to create the Embedded Specialty. Embedded Specialty partners are proven experts designing medium- to large-scale embedded control and monitoring applications with the NI software and hardware platform. Signal.X is proud to be recognized as an Embedded Specialty Partner. What does this… Continue Reading

OPC UA Addition to Shield

OPC UA Addition to Shield

Signal.X is pleased to announce that we have recently added OPC UA connectivity to our Shield platform. OPC UA is an industrial communications protocol that is platform-independent, and is generally accepted as the successor to OPC Classic, which was a Windows-based protocol. With this addition, our NVH Controller can communicate to a central server its… Continue Reading

NVH Machine Design

NVH Machine Design

Top 3 Considerations When Designing NVH Production Machines: As the average consumer becomes more discerning, the trickle-down of noise and vibration characteristics from product to subsystem will continue to drive component suppliers to evaluate those metrics as part of their manufacturing process. Motors, fans, actuators and smaller components are now being subjected to rigorous scrutiny… Continue Reading

Engineers' Corner

The Signal.X Blog

Author Archives: Robert Hoffman

Platform Spotlight: STAX

Platform Spotlight: STAX

Since 2004, Signal.X Technologies has provided software and systems integration for complex end-of-line test systems and industrial automation. Controlling a production test system requires a multi-disciplinary team that brings together electrical, mechanical, hydraulic and controls knowledge. Done correctly, end-of-line test systems operate reliably day in and day out, while maintaining the level of flexibility needed to add new models, facilitate troubleshooting of components and provide the correct level of insight into the machine performance and health.

PLCs have traditionally been the primary solution to meeting this requirement, and are still the right choice for many machines. However, as these test systems become more complex, Signal.X has found that PLCs do not always satisfy the needs for high-speed data acquisition, signal processing, database interaction and more. In lieu of simply placing a PC next to a PLC on the production line, Signal.X created the STAX manufacturing test platform, built on the National Instruments CompactRIO hardware: Programmable Automation Controllers (PACs).

At its core, the STAX platform turns NI hardware (specifically the CompactRIO) into a PLC, but with the power of LabVIEW to acquire and log high-speed data, communicate to devices and more. STAX contains a ladder logic emulator that is used to program the behavior of the control system, with editing and monitoring tools very similar to a PLC.

Historically, manufacturing plants have not been receptive to LabVIEW and National Instruments as part of their production process. Although NI hardware has been accepted as high-quality and reliable, many plants believe that in order to maintain the systems over time they have to become LabVIEW experts. Asking a controls engineer who is an expert ladder logic programmer to also learn LabVIEW is an unrealistic expectation in most plants. STAX enables controls engineers and technicians to maintain and manage sophisticated test systems using programming that is familiar and intuitive.

Signal.X has been building the STAX platform for almost a decade, and it has stood the test of time by becoming a foundation for test and control systems large and small. We are excited to continue deploying new systems testing everything from seat tracks to dampers. Stay tuned to see how our experience with Shield and STAX can create test systems with unparalleled control and processing capability.

Platform Spotlight: Shield

Platform Spotlight: Shield

It has been 14 years since the initial conception of Shield, and we thought it appropriate to spend a moment in review to understand the evolution of the Shield platform as well as give you a preview of what the future looks like. Shield was created in 2004 with one purpose: to capitalize on the… Continue Reading

Stop, Drop, and Roll

Stop, Drop, and Roll

We were all taught as kids these three actions when faced with a fire emergency, and recently I have been thinking about how analogous they are to the phrase “fighting fires” in business. We all know what fire-fighting means in this context – all of us have lived through this to some extent at one… Continue Reading

Scout v2.1 Released!

Scout v2.1 Released!

Signal.X is excited to announce the latest release of Scout TDMS Editor to the LabVIEW Tools Network community. Scout continues to be one of the most downloaded software products on the Tools Network, and we have well over 1,000 registered users, and just last quarter we surpassed 10,000 downloads! Thank you to all the users… Continue Reading

Embedded Specialty

Embedded Specialty

Having recently gone through the ordeal of attaining my certification for LabVIEW Embedded Developer (CLED), I thought now was an opportune time to talk about why Signal.X is part of the Embedded Specialty partners, and what it really means. According to the NI website, the Embedded Specialty “recognizes partners with proven success in designing medium-… Continue Reading

Signal.X Engine Cold Test Systems

Signal.X Engine Cold Test Systems

An internal combustion engine is a very complex machine, both to design and to manufacture. By the 1980s, engine testing became increasingly important in the assembly plant to ensure defect-free, quality products. However, the technology of the time focused on hot test, which is running the engine with fuel and spark to mimic in-vehicle conditions.… Continue Reading

National Instruments Merges Specialties and Recognizes Signal.X as an NI Embedded Specialty Partner

National Instruments Merges Specialties and Recognizes Signal.X as an NI Embedded Specialty Partner

National Instruments has recently combined the Embedded Control Specialty and the Electronic Design Specialty to create the Embedded Specialty. Embedded Specialty partners are proven experts designing medium- to large-scale embedded control and monitoring applications with the NI software and hardware platform. Signal.X is proud to be recognized as an Embedded Specialty Partner. What does this… Continue Reading

OPC UA Addition to Shield

OPC UA Addition to Shield

Signal.X is pleased to announce that we have recently added OPC UA connectivity to our Shield platform. OPC UA is an industrial communications protocol that is platform-independent, and is generally accepted as the successor to OPC Classic, which was a Windows-based protocol. With this addition, our NVH Controller can communicate to a central server its… Continue Reading

NVH Machine Design

NVH Machine Design

Top 3 Considerations When Designing NVH Production Machines: As the average consumer becomes more discerning, the trickle-down of noise and vibration characteristics from product to subsystem will continue to drive component suppliers to evaluate those metrics as part of their manufacturing process. Motors, fans, actuators and smaller components are now being subjected to rigorous scrutiny… Continue Reading