Proper Machine Testing Improves Operations, Safety

Feb. 13, 2013
How Do You Test Your Equipment? Which Tools are You Using for Simulation, and Do You Test in the Shop or at the Customer Site?
About the Author
Katherine Bonfante is senior digital editor for Control and ControlDesign. You can email her at [email protected] or check out her Google+ profile.I just came back from vacation in Cartagena, Colombia, where I encountered many street vendors while I explored the city. Some pushed carts full of merchandise and others used donkeys to pull the carts. Without fail, whenever an animal was used, the carts were filled to an illegal weight limit. For the working animal, pulling the cart and its weight is just part of the abusive work environment they face throughout their lives.

Fortunately, the Colombian government passed a law requiring all street vendors to motorize their carts by the first of this month. Most machines are treated so much better than these working animals are treated. Machines typically are subjected to better working conditions, and receive maintenance and repairs when needed. Donkeys, on the other hand, work all day in deplorable conditions, and probably rarely, if ever, see a veterinarian or receive any kind of healthcare. Most are not even in good enough health to be working in the first place.

SEE ALSO: How Do You Test Your Industrial Equipment?

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Unlike the street vendor, who tests his "machine" simply by loading weight onto his flimsy cart until the animal is close to collapsing, we test our machines before putting them to work, and use preventive measures to ensure the equipment will not be damaged during testing.

"Will This Machine Work?" is an article in which Senior Technical Editor Dan Hebert talks about the best test methods for proving your machine's operation. In an industrial setting, the main testing methods used are software emulation, hardware simulation, prototyping and beta testing. The article also lists different testing methods from simplest to most complex, and details how multifaceted machines benefit from hardware simulation.

In a sidebar, "Integrator Uses Simulation to Close Design Loop," Hebert describes system integrator Maverick, which uses software emulation to shake out programming wrinkles before they go live.

In a sidebar about prototyping and beta testing, Hebert features Cascade Microtech, an Oregon-based company that builds probes and probing systems for the semiconductor industry. In "Proactive on Prototyping," we learn how Cascade approaches prototyping.

Testing your equipment is important, but using the right methods is essential to the safety of your industrial processes and your machinery. Street vendors in Colombia might not have access to fancy testing methods or machinery as we do here in the U.S., but maybe recent legal measures will bring an end to the animal abuse in the work environment. How do you test your equipment? Which tools are you using for simulation, and do you test in the shop or at the customer site?