V32 - MAT - Lead 1

MTS TestSuite™ Software: Test Execution Advantages

Dr. Christoph Leser, materials testing product manager at MTS, applies 20 years of experience to his work as a researcher, test engineer, application engineer and test consultant. He currently serves as a subcommittee chairperson for ASTM. In this Q&A, Dr. Leser talks about the unique challenges of resource allocation facing material test labs, as well as how the MTS flagship software addresses those challenges.

Q: What are the primary challenges that labs face in test execution?
 
Leser:  The growing pressure to maximize productivity of existing resources presents multiple challenges in lab management. Often different personnel are involved in test definition, test execution and test analysis & reporting. The cross-functional nature of the test process requires a comprehensive solution from beginning to end. It involves separate groups with different objectives to work together in an effective manner. That being said, a solution leveraged from a consistent software platform throughout the process can offer many advantages in productivity. 

Q. What strategies does MTS incorporate to address this issue?

Leser:
The MTS TestSuite software platform offers modular, stand-alone packages based on specific user roles, including one for creating tests, another for running tests, and others for doing post-test reporting and analysis. All of these packages are built on a common user interface which  supports operation in multiple languages. Getting every department working within a single, user-friendly test software platform can increase productivity. The result is effectively sharing data throughout the organization regardless of location or native language—also contributing to productivity.

The test creation advantages offered in the Elite module was covered in our article in the previous issue of Force & Motion. At this point I would like to discuss the Express module, which is designed for test execution.

The MTS TestSuite Express application allows the operator to run tests and see acquired data and calculated values in a user-configurable runtime view. This allows the operator can choose which aspects to monitor during the test. Test creation or editing functions are not available in Express, giving the test lab greater control over test consistency. This can minimize training time by providing a simplified user interface for the dedicated test operator. Test operators will find even complex tests to be easy to operate, and they will not have to worry about accidentally modifying an existing test’s design.  

Q. What software features make running tests so easy?

Leser:
First, we designed a user interface that is clean, clear and easy to understand. The test operator will find all functionality to be available when and where it is needed. For example, the Control Panel is front and center at all times giving the operator easy access to critical test controls. In addition, test dialogs can be easily created by the test designer to give the operator guidance on running the test and critical feedback regarding test status, greatly reducing the decision-making effort on the part of the test operator. 

Running a test in MTS TestSuite Express is as easy as selecting a project and following interactive menus to completion. Finished activities are clearly distinguished from current activities and those that have not yet been started.

The test operator can arrange a view to see the graphical depiction of test status. This depiction is built by the test designer to clarify requirements such as specimen installation instructions or other information to provide clarification.

One other very useful feature is Virtual Specimen, which can be used to validate test setups prior to execution. Running test setups using Virtual Specimen simulation mode can prevent specimen damage. Unintentionally damaging specimens can be expensive, as well as increase test setup time. Using the Virtual Specimen function involves selecting a standard specimen, defining parameters, and the simulated mechanical test is then set up and run producing meaningful data. It also is a powerful training tool for practicing multiple test executions before performing the real thing.

Q. How do test labs benefit?

Leser:
By working from targeted programs optimized for specific user roles but built from a common interface, test labs can greatly improve productivity, accuracy and cost-efficiency. Test operators in particular will find running tests to be faster and easily. A crucial result of the software design allows for faster, more effective training opportunities as well. For example, when the time comes for a test operator to expand responsibilities, say into test creation, he or she will be working from a familiar user environment.

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Email: info@mts.com