Test bench concept cuts changeover time: Page 4 of 6

September 27, 2017 //By Norbert Witteczek, Smart Testsolutions
Test bench concept cuts changeover time
The strong increase in the number of electronic control units in vehicles is accompanied by an increase in testing effort. In order to keep the time for the test procedures to a minimum, the measurement technology specialist Smart Test Solutions and the automotive supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG (ZF) have developed a new generation of test benches; the development focus was on maximum flexibility in use. The system described is used for ZFs captive supply.

The latest version of the software also features a whole range of extra new functions, many of which are the result of the close cooperation between the two partners in developing the test benches. These include a further CAN interface which permits the connection of additional measurement or simulation assemblies without having to give up the separation of communication and measuring equipment. Like the existing simulation and measurement assemblies from Smart Testsolutions, the hardware extensions are controlled by the test controller as the central instance for the entire system.

The advantage of separating communication from the measuring equipment is that it allows a high degree of standardisation at the measuring equipment level. The test scripts running on the process computer only require minimal modification, if at all, on changing over from one OEM to another. Most of the adaptation work required takes place at the communication interface. That not only saves time but also provides additional security. After all, the testing and diagnostic scripts have successfully withstood month-long endurance tests and every change means a potential risk.

Standardised scripting API simplifies configuration

A further major factor contributing to the efficiency of the test rig is the integration of the Lua scripting language into the MCM Process Realtime test controller software. Lua has been specially developed for resource-limited controllers. The scripting language is relatively lightweight and so does not take up much computing time and resources. With regard to the aim of shortening changeover times, the great advantage of Lua is the fact that the personnel concerned in the test departments require only a short period of familiarisation before being able to create test programs. Lua is very similar to the C programming language generally learnt by engineers in the course of their studies.

To speed up the configuration process still further, Smart Testsolutions has implemented a number of functional modules which can be accessed by the test case developers via Lua and can be used in various combinations. Very little time is then required to define the test sequences for different control units and to configure the measurement hardware accordingly. Another advantage is that the test departments can access more Lua functional modules through the internet, where they are freely accessible in libraries.

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