AMI's Newsletter
 April 2012

The AMI April newsletter features an article from associate engineer John Bloomfield discussing process control. John is LabVIEW certified, which means the programs he writes adhere to the best practices endorsed by National Instruments in areas of functionality, style, documentation and speed of development.


John's certification and AMI's partnership with National Instruments provides us access to the tools needed to develop high quality measurement, data acquisition, machine control and data processing solutions.


Give me a call at 785-532-7044 or e-mail if you have any questions or projects you would like to discuss. You can also connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.


AMI...Engineering Success.



Taylor Jones

Chief Engineer

Feature Article

Empowering Your Process Control with National Instruments Solutions


John Bloomfield

Associate Engineer


When you have to control many devices at once, you need a system integrator. AMI has developed expertise in empowering industry with engineered solutions that are used in product verification, process control and automation. AMI has partnered with National Instruments (NI) as an alliance member to provide solutions with access to certified LabVIEW development and all the hardware and software products that NI offers for measurement, data acquisition, machine control and data processing to enable you to find answers and manage your process efficiently with high quality information.


Automating data collection can be a big time saver and AMI has recently employed LabVIEW to control a system to do just that. Focused on concrete railroad tie manufacturing, Kansas State University researchers have developed a vision-based sensor for measuring the strain in pre-stressed concrete. AMI automated the data collection process by designing a system with a linear actuator at the heart of the assembly to sequence the sensor position and image collection at each of the 60 points per beam. With a laptop running a LabVIEW application that simultaneously commands the motion control as well as the image capturing, the system can accurately position the sensor and take synchronous image data from the sensor's cameras, reducing what used to take five to 10 minutes per beam to just over a minute per beam. 


AMI also has experience using LabVIEW to automate production processes. Nitride Solutions of Wichita, Kan., produces high quality, low-cost semiconductor substrates for the electronics industry. Utilizing NI's CompactDAQ product family, AMI developed a LabVIEW application to control, monitor and log Nitride's reactors which involve gas flows, pressures, stepper motor control and temperatures in the range of 2500�C. Recipes for the process are entered into an Excel template from which the application reads the desired set points and alarm levels as they change over time. Sensors and process control equipment communicate through analog voltages, digital on/off signals and several RS232 COM ports. The LabVIEW-developed application provides a user interface that brings all the process equipment together into one access point for data display and manual or automated process control.


Recently, a client requested that AMI conduct some short duration cold testing at -40�C. This required constructing and controlling a custom cold chamber for this application. The cold chamber used liquid nitrogen as the cooling agent and chamber temperature control was achieved using a simple custom developed LabVIEW program that monitored several thermocouples and controlled the cryogenic valve to hit the target temperature. 


Whether it's a complex system or a simple control and monitoring application, AMI can provide the solution to acquire data, control multiple devices across nearly any signal type and provide that solution with a professional user interface that presents the data the way you need to see it. What if you have multiple installation points for your custom developed software? Once the initial development is complete, even if you're selling the application to a customer, you own the application to distribute as you please.


What system control needs do you have in your operation? With the full complement of NI's hardware and software at our fingertips, the answer to empower your process control needs may be more accessible than you think.



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