One day’s testing in the field or lab can easily generate several days of analysis, processing and reporting in the office. The analysis and reporting processes are often repetitive, so there are real benefits to be gained by automating them. Not least of these benefits is the liberation of an engineer’s time for more creative work such as results interpretation.
Brüel & Kjær’s post-processing software, PULSE Reflex, provides a simple means to automate the office work and heralds a new chapter in the ongoing development of the world-beating PULSE platform.
PULSE Reflex has its foundations in customer consultation, with clinics taking place worldwide to establish the requirements for a next generation, signal analysis system. PULSE LabShop is a well established, real-time, multi-analysis environment which has helped take the number of delivered PULSE systems well past the 10,000 mark. In the user clinics for PULSE Reflex however, Brüel & Kjær’s customers made it clear that more was needed.
Automated Time Data Post-processing
Setting up an analysis process in PULSE Reflex is very easy. A process chain can be set up in advance to define the analysis parameters, display strategies, and results storage. One of the key requirements coming out of the customer clinics was the capability to manage large volumes of test data, so the input to the process chain is a “region” which can either be a single time-data file from a single test or a collection of time-data files from multiple tests. The user has the option to inspect the time-data first in the Time Editor and, if desired, to reduce the range of interest to a sub-set of channels or time ranges.
Accumulation Batch Operation
The sequential batch process is only one type of automation. Another type is accumulation. Sometimes a group of time data files belongs to a single process, for example, when a vehicle is driven at a number of different, steady state, road speeds with recordings of sound pressure and vibration at each speed. The objective is to combine the results to examine how, say, a particular 3rd-octave band sound pressure varies with vehicle speed.
Another example is the processing of data from a test cell, where an engine may be run at fixed speeds and loads with recordings of vibration and sound pressure in each running condition. A sequence of such steady state tests may be carried out where, for a fixed load, the engine speed is increased in steps from lowest to highest. The objective is to combine the results from each steady state test into a single set of results vs. engine speed.
In this mode of operation, PULSE Reflex takes the time data files as one input and accumulates the results so that they can be displayed and stored as functions of engine speed. To extend the possibilities still further, there is an option to export results to a spreadsheet in Microsoft® Excel.
Gathering Design Input for PULSE Reflex
The origin of PULSE Reflex was a series of customer clinics and interviews conducted, with participants from all industries, in nine locations around the world. The central question was, 'If we could start with a clean sheet of paper and design the ideal signal analysis and post-processing system for you, what would it look like?' The challenge for Brüel & Kjær was to convert the avalanche of responses from the initial wave of clinics into a clear design concept that captured the essence of customers’ wants and desires. The responses were sorted and grouped, and eventually crystallised into a set of design criteria for a new system environment.
GUI mock-ups were presented in a later series of customer clinics to assess whether Brüel & Kjær had understood the requirements correctly. This process of listening to the customer and iteratively developing the concept with continuous feedback from customers took more than two years to complete. But it had the advantage of empowering the development team, giving them the confidence that the concept was the right one.
The key desires that emerged from this process were:
- Ease of learning and ease of use
- The ability to manage and display large volumes of data
- Consistency of GUI from application to application
- Fast and efficient reporting
- A common database, with powerful search and filtering capabilities, accessible from all applications
Just the First Step
The aim of PULSE Reflex is to provide as much flexibility as possible in setting up the analysis process whilst, at the same time, providing the means to automate the procedure once it has been established. The types of automation described above can save a great deal of time which might otherwise be spent repeating an analysis on multiple sets of input data. Far better to spend that time interpreting the results and defining the next step in the investigation.