Test Article Safety: Automating Active Load Abort SetupMTS Systems Integration Engineer Mitch Gilomen talks about new the ALA Setup Wizard, available as a standard feature of new AeroPro™ 6.1 software.
Q: What new technology has MTS developed for aerospace structural test labs?
Gilomen: We’ve added an ALA Setup Wizard to the toolset of new AeroPro 6.1 software. Just like the wizards we use to set up other software, the ALA Setup Wizard automates much of the process for setting up channels for the MTS Active Load Abort System.
Setting up just one channel of an active load abort system is an involved process requiring the generation of several algorithms, inputs, and outputs. Multiply this process one hundred fold to include dozens of highly cross-coupled actuators and you can begin to imagine how time-consuming the ALA setup process can become.
The new ALA Setup Wizard bundles the advanced systems integration expertise required to perform this task, essentially putting it within reach of the average lab technician.
Q: What is active load abort technology and why is it important?
Gilomen: Active load abort technology helps safeguard valuable test articles by providing tight control over structural test system unloading in the event of power loss or system interlock. During such an event the MTS Active Load Abort System employs measures, at both the software and hardware levels, to reduce all actuator loads to a neutral state at precisely the same time, regardless of varying pressures and individual actuator positions.
You really only get one chance when testing full-scale structures, and damage to a test article can set a test program back several months and millions of dollars. Also, as strain gauges are often built into the test structure as it is assembled, you probably wouldn’t have the time, or budget, to build a replacement test article with the same number of sensors, so you have to work with less robust test data the second time around.
With the stakes this high, more aerospace manufacturers are requiring test labs to employ active load abort systems in their structural tests. The risk is simply too great not to have this layer of protection in place.
Q: How will the ALA Setup Wizard benefit test labs?
Gilomen: The ALA Setup Wizard will save considerable time and effort compared to completing ALA setup processes manually. It will also significantly improve setup accuracy. Since the Wizard automates so much of the setup process, most of the chance for human error is removed. Any issues detected during setup are clearly communicated in error messages and captured in a test log.
Additionally, the ALA Setup Wizard enables far easier test reconfiguration. In contrast, the manual setup process can make reconfiguration excessively time-consuming, because with every new test you have to begin the manual setup process from scratch. Now, you just run the Wizard again and you’re ready.
Q: How do you think the ALA Setup Wizard affects the attainability of active load abort fails-safe technology?
Gilomen: The ALA Setup Wizard effectively removes the complexity of system setup as a barrier to adopting ALA technology.
Test labs no longer have to devote critical engineering talent and time to the process of setting up and checking channels. Once the basic parameters for a single channel are input, the Wizard commences automatic setup and verification of all ALA control channels, completing the task in a small fraction of the time required for manual setup.
Upgrade to AeroPro 6.1 software today
In addition to the ALA Setup Wizard, new AeroPro 6.1 software offers a wealth of new features for helping aerospace test labs improve the speed and efficiency of their aerospace structural testing, while upholding the highest levels of test data integrity.
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