NI Week Aids Industrial IoT Convergence

By Jim Montague

Aug 21, 2014

The Internet is bringing even more things together lately—off the plant floor and on—and consumers and engineers need help organizing and analyzing all the data coming in. Even their machines and other equipment are gaining web presences and communicating via the ballooning Internet of Things (IoT), but they often need as much aid as their human counterparts.

Luckily, a few developers and organizations have the tools to manage these incoming data sources and use their information to make better decisions. One of these is National Instruments (, which showcased many of its end users and solutions for more than 3,000 attendees at its 20th annual NI Week, Aug. 5-8, in Austin, Texas.

"What we've been working over the last several decades is now converging to give us a definitive, differentiated position in the area of big analog data and high-performance, mixed-signal test," said Dr. James Truchard, NI's president, CEO and co-founder. "In this era of big analog data, it's possible to capture your data over time and turn it into useful information and ultimately into wisdom. That's what we see as a convergence of social media, analytics and cloud computing to make it possible for us to truly transform the way enterprises work."

Truchard reported that NI divides IoT into industrial IoT and consumer IoT, and this industrial side is focused on using big analog data, analytics, distributed timing and synchronization, and intelligence via cyber-physical systems to help factories, power grids, cities and machines work better.

End-user solutions presented at NI Week included:

  • Airbus is using NI's System on Module (SOM) and software to add smarts to its aircraft assembly tools and shop-floor systems, which speeds up prototype development, and simplifies and shortens production. "We estimate our time to deliver with NI SOM is a tenth of the time of alternatives because of the productivity gains of NI's approach to system design, particularly with NI Linux Real-Time and the LabVIEW FPGA module," says Sébastien Boria, R&D mechatronics engineer at Airbus.
  • Subaru's parent, Fuji Heavy Industries, employs NI's hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) platform to simulate and test its first hybrid car, the XV Crosstrek, before committing to costly, time-consuming real-world tests. "We reduced overall test time and optimized time to market because all the test patterns ran automatically in only 118 hours," explained Tomohiro Morita, senior engineer in the HEV design department in Fuji's Subaru Engineering division. "This was a 94% reduction in test time compared to manual testing."
  • Semiconductor manufacturer Integrated Device Technology uses NI's Semiconductor Test System (STS) and its open PXI architecture to reconfigure its ATE equipment and improve their capabilities without increasing their cost. "NI STSs installed on our production test floor run 24/7," says Glen Peer, IDT's test engineering director. "We've experienced 10 to 25% test time reductions, enhanced our measurement capability and accuracy, and cleaned up our footprint on the test floor, which makes our testers much more production-friendly."
  • Bergmans Mechatronics combined LabVIEW software and HTML 5 protocol to develop its LabSocket System, which allows users to access NI's virtual instruments (VIs) via the web or within a customer's local area network (LAN). "LabSocket helps users save time because they can drag a VI off a program and onto a webpage, and it will be continuously updated," added John Bergman, president of Bergman Mechatronics.