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Every industry creates products that ought to be tested, verified, and approved. Test benches serve that exact support. As technology grows, so do these test benches as they become more precise, more versatile, and have more features.
This article will develop on what test benches are, why they rely on technology, and how technology is implemented to achieve these goals.
Test benches help manufacturers tailor products to certain performance requirements before finishing up the product. This is done before the installation and commissioning phase where products are tested once more and checked to see if they perform correctly in the environment they were placed in.
Test benches ultimately help the manufacturer to ensure quality and increase the lifespan of the product. These also help accelerate the advancement cycle, enhance productivity and cost-efficiency.
As these are particularly helpful to the transportation, power generation, and electronics industry, the test bench market is expected to grow in size over the coming decade.
These test benches exist in a variety of formats but mostly help measure and test three elements.
The first ones are valve test benches that test whether or not valves can withstand a specific amount of pressure. The quality of these benches is measured by their accuracy, the time it takes to achieve the test, and the maximum pressure the test can check for.
The second one is a force test bench where a certain force is applied to a component to test whether or not that component can withstand such a force.
The third one is a torque bench test where we apply a rotational force on a component to check whether or not it can stay intact.
Note that most of these tests destroy or modify the shape of the component, therefore not every piece is tested and only a couple of pieces are tested in a large batch to verify if the batch is correct. If not, further tests are conducted on the batch and the production line has to stop to understand where the problem is.
Technology in the sector is crucial for several reasons. Now that we understand what test benches are, let’s look at what it brings to the table.
Technology, through various electronic components, allows us, to create more precise test benches. The main reason is the implementation of very capable sensors that provide much more accurate and precise results than mechanical components.
As most of the traditional machinery relies on mechanical moving parts and sturdy motors, technology has offered engineers the possibility of implementing new designs and features into their test benches.
The main result of this implementation is as mentioned more precision, however, as the components move from solid mechanical parts to electronic circuits and sensors, the entire product also becomes more fragile. These very capable new test benches may be less durable than previous models.
We’ve mentioned that test benches often modify certain pieces which makes them unusable, these test benches destroy the product. Technology, through various implementations and methods, allows the creation of nondestructive tests.
This could be various measurements carried out on the component itself to predict and check whether or not the piece fits in the norm.
We’ll detail another nondestructive method that emerged thanks to machine learning in the next section of this article.
As test benches require a certain precision, these have to be regularly tested to check whether or not they can still accurately measure the resistance of a part.
As newer test benches make use of technology their calibration, which resides on electronic pieces, can be made through software. This allows for a much easier process than having to send the bench to a special lab that could check the specifications of the test bench.
Now that we understand what the sector is looking for in technology, let’s see what technology it uses to achieve such results.
We’ve seen that one way of checking the quality of a piece is to look at its shape and geometry. The process is also often only carried out on a small sample of a larger batch.
One of the implementations of machine learning is to analyze large amounts of data. Researchers are trying to apply machine learning to production lines, the idea is to set up a camera to be able to quickly snap a picture of every single component that passes in the production line.
Machine learning algorithms then analyze each picture and try to figure out whether or not each component presents a problematic shape or size.
This method of testing isn’t as precise as a testing bench as it only tests the shape and not the actual resistance, but the method can be carried out to a much larger number of elements, is nondestructive, and experts in the field have realized that the shape of an element often dictates if it will pass the test bench.
As most of the “normal” pieces have norms and regulations that fit the resistance tests, finding an issue in the shape or size of a component very often means the piece will be problematic.
This technology can’t completely replace test benches but might replace a lot of the classic applications. Keep in mind, on a test bench, each piece is tested manually, thanks to machine learning, with the right algorithm, a quick picture can do the trick.
Test benches exist in every precision industry, they offer quality checks that make the resulting products last longer and deliver better results. Technology helps the sector create more reliable, and precise test benches thanks to the development of last-generation sensors. Machine learning also offers a way for the sector to evolve, bringing a different approach to testing.