Original Date: 10/18/1999
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Engine Test Cell Data Acquisition
Prior to upgrading its Engine Test Facility, Orenda Turbines primarily used analog instrumentation and manually logged engine data into the system. Measurement accuracy and consistency were highly dependent on an operator’s training, capability, and fatigue level. Likewise, the monitoring of engine deviations was affected by operator awareness and response. Converting test data to standard day conditions or other data processing tasks required extensive manual calculations, plotting, and comparison to test specifications. Additionally, the analog test equipment became increasingly difficult and costly to support. To improve the accuracy, productivity, and maintainability of its operations, Orenda Turbines replaced its analog system with an advanced Digital Data Acquisition system. Except for a few computer support services provided by an outside specialist, Orenda Turbines performed all the tasks needed to install and integrate this system into its Engine Test Facility.
The Digital Data Acquisition system uses a desktop computer with a National Instruments data acquisition board. The computer’s Labview data acquisition software operates in a Microsoft Windows environment. Orenda Turbines’ personnel were trained on the initial software and have subsequently made several refinements to the system. Using commercial-off-the-shelf PC-based hardware and software, Orenda Turbines created a highly flexible test environment that can accommodate any foreseeable test situation. Engine data is collected by using a wide range of sensors including pressure, humidity, flow, vibration, thermocouples, and strain gauges. Almost all signal processing is handled by the Labview software and can easily be configured to simulate any combination of signal processing elements (e.g., relatively simple averaging functions; high-speed dynamic signal analysis for vibration troubleshooting). Data is compiled and shown on large, user-friendly, full color displays that are customized to Orenda Turbines’ and its customer’s requirements. Automatic calibration procedures also ensure accuracy and repeatability of test results.
By implementing the Digital Data Acquisition system, Orenda Turbines has virtually eliminated data logging and calculation errors. The automated detection and recording of exceeded engine limits allow operators to make additional measurements as needed, thereby reducing the number of required test runs and operator workload. The real-time display of corrected engine measurements also lets operators make immediate comparisons with the Technical Order acceptance limits. As a result, Orenda Turbines reduced its test times by up to 75%. The Digital Data Acquisition system requires less maintenance and is easily supported compared to its predecessor. The system’s increased flexibility enables greater utilization of test cells because multiple engine types can be tested within one cell. Since implementing this system, Orenda Turbines’ Test Cell Engineering Group has become a supplier of new engine testing facilities and upgrading services for external customers.
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