Measurement Automation

The advantages to automation are manifest. The intrinsic reprodicibility of the measurement is enhanced because the measurement is always performed in the same manner. By the same token training overheads can be much reduced. With sufficient capacity testing can be performed around the clock without the need for a manned presence outside of normal hours. The cost per measurement associated with operating the test is generally much improved because of the reduction in the manpower provided.

Automation of mechanical testing can be accomplished by two primary routes:

  1. The development of bespoke equipment from the ground up
  2. The adaptation of existing apparatus

Development of bespoke equipment

There are a few advantages to developing equipment from scratch. There are no design restrictions, as are encountered when integrating an existing item of equipment. Parallel measurement approaches are generally more easily achieved via this approach. The disadvantages are cost and development time.

Adaptation of existing apparatus

Where an existing item of apparatus is known to perform a measurement well it is sometimes desirable to automate that instrument. This avoids many of the issues in validating the new work flow. In addition an existing piece of equipment may have a large weight of historic data acquired with it and its use would ensure comparibility. Alternatively it may be that an exisiting item of equipment provides a number of the attributes required for the testing proposed and offers a reduced development time and a proven specification. Depending on the size/cost of the apparatus to be integrated either serial testing or parallel testing can be implemented.

The addition of software programming interfaces to many measurement devices gives the ability to integrate them into larger systems relatively simply.

Experience in test automation

  • Automated & miniaturised puncture & indentation testing
  • Automated gel strength (compression) testing. Included automatic cleaning and lubrication.
  • Automated adhesion testing (blister test)
  • Hight throughput tribometer (friction and wear measurement)
  • Automated coating opacity measurement (including machine vision, thickness by defect detection and vis. spectrometry)
  • Automated scratch tester