Case Study


Matrix International


Aramotion Test Rig - Brake Testing Machine

control systemMatrix International

The Problem

Matrix International, a leading designer and manufacturer of electromagnetic clutches and brakes used in servo motors and forklift trucks based in Brechin, approached Finesse Control Systems needing a process in which to carry out tests on their brakes at higher speeds and more efficiently than ever before.

Matrix needed a machine that would allow them to safely carry out true to life tests and automate data capture into long-term storage as they were losing time and efficiency by manually copying and saving data.

The Solution

The project broke new ground for both companies, creating a machine that could test innovative new high inertia brakes at 5,000 RPM.

The timeline was challenging and the technical challenges significant such as the analysis, design and construction of a test rig capable of data logging at a 1000 samples per second for high speed, high inertia brake. Electrical and mechanical reliability and safety would need to be built in, with tests able to run around the clock, largely unmanned.

All these requirements are second nature to the team at Finesse; however, putting them all together in this unique fashion and in a very short time frame was never going to be easy. The Finesse mechanical, electrical and software teams would have to work particularly closely to ensure success.

Control System Hardware Used

Normally high speed data logging requires expensive data acquisition systems. These are generally great for logging but put a lot of workload on the user. These systems also don’t offer safety integration which was critical in this system. A Siemens S7-1500F was identified as the ideal fit for safety and control of the system. The ability of this Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) along with the features of WinCC Advanced meant that we could explore the data capture rate into the PLC directly.

As a Siemens solution partner, Finesse contacted the technical support at Siemens to discuss this idea and to look at ways this could be achieved. This resulted in some intensive collaboration between the companies and ultimately a solution that gave the required result. Now we have a single safety, control, visualisation and data logging platform all built around a solid, well supported test rig.

Data Capture and Analysis

Though this is an area Finesse has long been associated with, the challenge is to find the balance between collecting sufficient data for the tests and so much data that interpretation becomes difficult. Finesse used its expertise in PLCs and Structured Query Language (SQL) server databases to provide a dynamic system that records all the data being generated and then used clever data analysis procedures to create a meaningful report.

To make interpreting the test as easy as possible for the user, a desktop application was created. This allowed them to run a given test sequence and compiled the easily readable graph automatically. The feature increases productivity, freeing the user to complete other tasks. Productivity was further increased by calling on our knowledge of databases, Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and Siemens PLCs to create an automated control that allowed transfer of the data captured to long-term storage from where it is retrievable at any time. Previously, manually copying the data to a spreadsheet and manually saving in long-term storage was required and the change was a big time saving for Matrix.

The Finesse team involved in this project commented, “This was a challenge; however, we could see the potential benefits and importance to the client. It meant a lot to us to be able to solve their problems so we were willing to do whatever it took.”

The Result

Working together, the Finesse teams delivered a machine that delighted the clients. The bespoke machine offers simple, easy-to-work-with data storage in a safe and efficient manner, allowing Matrix to run true to life tests at higher speeds than before, both vertically and horizontally in multiple configurations.

“Our young and enthusiastic mechanical design team did a fantastic job creating a machine that allowed these exciting new tests to be performed in vertical or horizontal orientations for extensive lengths of time. They had to overcome a number of mechanical design challenges with significant mechanical analysis and precision engineering involved to ensure dynamic balancing and coupling strength to cope with the high inertia and energy involved.”

Fraser Dunphy, Finesse MD

Additionally, their design required increased user safety with guarding around all moving parts while maintaining easy access to the test piece, utilising safety interlocked control. This was identified as an essential feature at risk assessment stage due to the high rotational speed and inertia involved. I am extremely proud of the quick turn-around we achieved for our client, while still keeping our core values of quality, value and safety at the fore.”

Key Summary

  • Created an automated control that allowed transfer of data captured to long-term storage from where it is retrievable at any time, taking workload away from the user.
  • Produced a single safety, control, visualisation and data logging platform all built around a solid, well supported test rig in collaboration with Siemens.
  • Provided the client with a bespoke machine that tests new high inertia brakes at 5,000RPM in a safe and efficient manner with simple, easy-to-use data storage.
  • Safety and control integrated into the data acquisition system with a Siemens S7-1500F PLC.
  • Machine allows testing at high speeds both vertically and horizontally in multiple configurations.

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