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Automated Test Equipment: How Will it Benefit You?

Jan 24, 2022 | Academic Teaching, Aerospace, All Content, IoT, Manufacturing, Research

Before you can bring a new industrial solution to market, it has to be vetted thoroughly. Similarly, to prove that your company can handle massive installations for the public sector, you’ll need to demonstrate your capacity. Expanding your own operations calls for pilot designs and exploratory testing to ensure that your goals are feasible. Regardless of the exact situation, testing your systems and their components is essential. R&D and QC processes can be greatly accelerated with automated test equipment.

Automated Test Equipment - SAAB RDS

Automated Test Equipment: How Will It Benefit Your Business?

What Can Be Automated?

A testing system has, at its most basic level, two key components: The item to be tested and the test environment. If you were to test out a new wing design for a plane, you’d need the wing itself and an environment capable of putting the wing into specific circumstances to measure performance. For aerospace applications, a wind tunnel is an ideal test environment. While you can’t automate the construction of a wind tunnel, everything after that can be automated.

When you build modern test beds and environments, virtually every parameter can be controlled by a computer. And if a computer can control input and measure output, then it can also be automated with artificial intelligence tools. These have become so advanced as to make testing as simple as a “set it and forget it” system. In particular, we advocate for machine learning in testing to simplify and accelerate R&D and QC processes.

Machine Learning for Optimization

When you incorporate AI into your testing, you don’t just automate your testing, you’re actually improving the performance and development speed of your systems and components. With machine learning, your automated test equipment will continuously log data on as many variables as it possibly can. As you perform more tests, the data set will produce predictable outputs that the AI can make adjustments from. Eventually, your testing will reveal upper and lower limits of performance based on your design.

For instance, suppose you wanted to test a new aircraft engine. You’ve got a test environment that can control atmospheric pressure and temperature. The engine is entirely controlled by the computer, down to the fuel-to-air ratio and all of its internal parameters are being closely monitored. An AI can run an engine test over and over, tweaking any variables under your control until it finds the perfect combination for ideal performance. But is this worth the initial investment?

Bring Products to Market Faster

Setting up automated testing systems does incur a higher initial cost, but this investment quickly pays for itself. An AI can run tests 24/7, and you don’t need a large team of engineers and data scientists to process the results. Machine learning can process all of the data and output useful insights to guide future revisions. Furthermore, by removing human error from the equation, you get results you can actually trust.  

All of this leads to faster R&D time and better QC as you’ll better understand the performance boundaries of the systems and components you develop. You can bring your products and services to market much faster and more affordably. However, can you scale up this level of AI usage to handle full systems development?  

Systems Testing for Large-Scale Applications

Testing entire systems that cover a large area or have several components can be challenging. However, as long as each component is connected and data can be centralized, AI-based processing and automated testing are possible. GSM modules are easily retrofitted and allow for easy data transfer over long distances. Cloud data systems can centralize data capture and processing, even when your system is scattered across several locations. This is how modern air traffic control systems are being developed.

Radar arrays at multiple locations across an entire country can now be linked together and their data fed into the cloud. AI can then process this data and turn it into a model that can be adjusted without requiring real-world testing. Once you have enough data to form a reliable model of your system, the possibilities are endless.

Accelerate Your Development With AI

If you’re interested in using AI to speed up your development process, ask the experts. Contact SAAB RDS to learn how we can drive your business forward with the latest technology.