New Data Mining and Reporting Software for Swiss Laboratories of ABB

"We can save up to $50k per test by simply avoiding the costs of rerunning tests for which existing data might be used."

- Marco Mailand, ABB Switzerland High Power Laboratory

The Challenge:

Managing a high volume of measurement data recorded since 1985, the variety of data from legacy systems and current data acquisition devices, and maintaining the visibility of data across departments.

The Solution:

Using DIAdem and DataFinder Server Edition to transition from a UNIX-based data acquisition and visualization tool, which removed the task of indexing and searching from the clients computer and uses the powerful CPU and big hard disk of the server for the indexing of about 1 million data sets.

ABB is a global leader in power and automation technologies. Our solutions improve the efficiency, productivity, and quality of our customers’ operations while minimizing environmental impact. Innovation is at the forefront of what we do and ABB pioneered many of the technologies that drive modern society.

 

Laboratory tests prove the performance of our products against a wide range of international standards like IEC, ANSI/IEEE, GB, or GOST. ABB has several labs worldwide and the unification of testing processes is an important tool to get products to market faster.

 

The certification tests of high-power and high-voltage products typically require days of work-intensive setup for just a few seconds of actual test. This makes the core output of our business, the test data, a very valuable asset. Consequently, an adequate data management system for the millions of recordings we generate yearly is crucial for the laboratory services we deliver to our internal and external customers.

 

Our older system was a UNIX-based data acquisition and management system, which had to be replaced due to the end of life of the devices and software.

 

We compared approximately 25 different software and hardware solutions to find the best replacement. NI’s technical data management (TDM) platform, which includes off-the-shelf products like DIAdem software, DataFinder Server Edition, and DataPlugins, fit our criteria the best for a successful transition to a new system.

 

The DataPlugin technology helped our team to work directly with the original data files, avoiding a conversion into a new format with potential data losses. This meant we could introduce the new system in parallel to the old one to minimize pushback. We could also extensively verify the implementation was at a minimum equivalent to the older system. We realized all advantages of the old system in the new system and increased the functionality of how we managed and analyzed our data. We also used DataPlugins to easily share data among different departments without any department needing to change their existing processes.

 

We use DIAdem to perform semiautomated data processing, thus entering a new level of quality and quantity of our work. We also reduced time and resources needed for low-reward tasks such as manually processing data.

 

In addition, the DataFinder Server Edition indexing service empowers users to quickly find similar tests and avoid retesting similar devices under similar conditions. We can save up to $50k per test by simply avoiding the costs of rerunning tests for which existing data might be used.

 

We used the flexible reporting in DIAdem to reproduce the design of the graphical output from the UNIX software too, which was a fundamental part of our corporate identity. We explicitly noted the multisegment time axis and the clutter-free display of multiple y-axes. In addition to the completeness of the DIAdem solution, we could also implement a “what you see is what you get” functionality with a floating user interface. This saves a considerable amount of time in post-processing, speeds up the output by a factor of 10 per picture analyzed, and improves the quality of test reports.

 

Another way we save time and money is having an enterprise agreement with NI. We can use online trainings and training credits to enable more users to work efficiently with the software and save time in-house by not giving courses and reducing administrative work.

 

Results

We used DIAdem and DataFinder Server Edition to replace our in-house UNIX software with commercially available products. Two people who worked on the maintenance of the UNIX systems have been reassigned to develop new IT-related tasks. We have eliminated platform transition problems and can buy solutions and courses elsewhere.

 

Author Information:

Marco Mailand
ABB Switzerland High Power Laboratory
Switzerland
marco.mailand@ch.abb.com

Figure 1. ABB Test Facility 1
Figure 2. ABB Test Facility 2
Figure 3. A custom dialog was built within DIAdem to find and select which data to analyze.
Figure 4. We are able to configure a report, within an approved template, in DIAdem with interactive options.
Figure 5. This is a sample page of a report that allows our organization to make data driven decisions.