While the MGCsplit data acquisition (DAQ) system from HBM (www.hbm.com; Marlborough, MA) is often used for in-vehicle testing as the IP65-hardened version can handle sun, ice, wind, heat, cold, dirt, mud, and moisture, apparently at the development test lab at GM Powertrain in Ypsilanti, MI, where transmission development is performed, the units are being used in another kind of mobile application.
Specifically, the DAQ modules are mounted on so-called “smart pallets,” pallets that are sized to handle transmissions and electronic test instrumentation. One of the issues that was being faced in the plant is that it was taking too long—days—in order to instrument and de-instrument setups on line, which reduced throughput. So what they’re doing is performing the instrumentation off-line. Says Marlin Turbett, senior project engineer, “We’ll produce twice the data in essentially the same space as before.” Because the work is being done off-line, when the pallet arrives at the test station, there are just five connections required (power, signal, hydraulic, in and out, and mechanical) before data starts being collected. It takes about three minutes or less to make each signal and each power connection, then about 30 minutes for the mechanical and hydraulic connections. This means it is usually ready to go in about an hour, as compared with as many as 12 hours for the previous method. Because MGCsplit module—said to be about the size of a shoebox—is hardened, they’ve discovered that the splashing and spillage of transmission oil doesn’t affect them.