For users who are challenged with the management and collection of large data sets, imc LINK unifies several existing imc and third party technologies, providing a seamless method for transferring and managing test data acquired with imc instruments in the field.
While every imc data acquisition system can already transfer data to the configuration PC or directly to a network storage device, imc LINK enhances this ability in environments where the network connection might be unreliable or only available occasionally, and/or situations where the data from many different concurrent data acquisition sources must be collected, processed, and stored.
By automatically transferring data from an imc system’s local storage to a data management computer, imc LINK users have the peace of mind of storage local to the acquisition, plus the convenience of data access local to the users. Remote is closer than you think!
The most critical aspect of complex test environments is easily summarized by asking “what is my testing doing now, and what are the results from the past day?” The three areas where the imc LINK software’s ability to manage data automatically profoundly improves the test circumstances are:
- Mobile Testing: in-vehicle data acquisition which is wirelessly linked back to a company’s network
- Test Stands: local area network access is reliable, but the large volume and 24/7 nature of the testing means that large volumes of data are being created throughout the day
- Remote Testing: wide area networks are often unreliable for continuous data transfer, and benefit from the ability for data to be asynchronously uploaded and processed
imc LINK in WiFi and Cellular (3G/4G) Data Networks
As with most Ethernet equipped devices, including the imc data acquisition systems, the particular form of the TCP/IP network is not important: wired LAN, wireless LAN or WiFi, cellular data networks (3G / 4G), or even satellite networks.
However, as the network area becomes larger (i.e. wireless LAN to cellular to satellite), two things conspire against devices which rely on the ability to continuously stream data: the connectivity becomes less reliable, and the data transfer speeds are reduced.
imc LINK overcomes these limitations by allowing data to be stored locally to where it is acquired, and transferred asynchronously to the data collection computer. For instance, in mobile testing, the WLAN link might only be in range when the vehicle is in the garage, station, or port. At that time, all data taken since the previous transfer should be uploaded and processed.
Independent of the provider of the wireless network connection, imc LINK provides a continuously monitored link; when the remote system is “in range” or can be reached via the 3rd party wireless network, then data transfer is started or resumed.
When data, which is stored in user defined blocks, has been successfully transferred, it can be cleared from the data system’s memory, freeing up space for future data. In addition, local system status, including GPS position for mobile systems, is continuously transferred to the imc LINK computer when connected. Utilizing the existing imc MESSAGING capability, imc systems can also directly generate a SMS Text Message or e-mail when any sort of user configured condition or trigger is met, immediately alerting the test manager of noteworthy results or problems.
In addition to data transfer, imc LINK may also be used to transfer updated configuration information to the imc data acquisition system(s), including changes to any configurable test parameter, such as sample rates, trigger conditions, or even which channels are or are not active. This capability is essential, because the direct and continuous connectivity required to modify a configuration is often problematic in all but local wired networks.
imc LINK for automated data processing
Independent of the network used to transfer data, it is often helpful in testing programs for data to be transferred to a central collection point and preprocessed or completely analyzed automatically.
While merely a convenience for some, the imc LINK capability for automatic processing on upload is especially important for testing which runs 24/7 over several days, such as fatigue, endurance and lifetime testing. As data is collected and stored, ‘intermediate’ results are calculated automatically and made available at whatever interval the user deems appropriate.
The processing relies on the well proven signal processing software suite, imc FAMOS. Relying on plain language macro-type commands, a complete analysis and report can be conducted through the imc FAMOS Sequence engine, which has access to the full array of over 700 imc FAMOS commands.
For example, in an automotive test track environment, when the driver pulls the test vehicle into the garage, a secure wireless local area connection can be automatically established. As the day’s data is uploaded to the server (including analog, digital, and field bus data, such as CAN Bus), it can be processed by imc FAMOS to:
- verify that the requested test sequence was successfully completed, and if so
- prepare the preliminary test report(s) for the driver to pick up from the printer, and hand to the development engineer, providing a “snap shot” view of the test results.
Even when connectivity is continuous and reliable, such as found in a test cell area, the ability of the imc LINK software to collect data from multiple test cells can be a significant time saver for test engineers. Together with the imc FAMOS software's analysis capability, a test cell’s data may be compiled into useful results, automatically, during the test run or as soon as the test is complete; with imc LINK waiting hours or days for someone to find the time to “crunch the data” can easily be a thing of the past!