Turbomeca Reduces Typical Test Analysis Time for New Engines from 2 Months to 1 Week with nCode Automation
Turbomeca (Safran) designs, builds, markets and supports the most comprehensive range of lowto- medium-power gas turbines for helicopters. Extensive physical testing is required for the development of new engines, development of derivative engines and qualification of engines for new applications. In the past it took Turbomeca about two months using Microsoft Excel® spreadsheets to analyze test data for a typical new gas turbine engine program, consisting primarily of filtering, statistical analysis and reporting.
In an effort to improve data analysis efficiency, Turbomeca switched to nCode Automation which more efficiently manages the large data files involved in testing and provides a wide range of data analysis automation tools. Time to analyze data for the most recent new engine was reduced to from months to only one week. Pierre Mialocq, Project Manager at Turbomeca commented:
“The improvement that we have achieved in data analysis efficiency will make it possible to improve product performance and robustness by increasing the scope of data analysis without lengthening time to market.”
Critical role of testing
Considerable amounts of testing are involved in the development of a new helicopter gas turbine engine. For example, during altitude tests, engineers typically capture 400 channels of data from temperature, pressure, velocity sensors and accelerometers, generating a total of 5,000 different files. The first step in analyzing these files typically involves checking for problems with the sensor or data acquisition system. When problems are found, they are then addressed by filtering the time history data. The next step is to perform a variety of different statistical analyses. These may include calculation of the maximum, minimum, mean, standard deviation, difference between channels, etc. In some cases, time histories are converted to the frequency domain. Normally, the final step is to collect the most important information and format it as a series of tables so that engineers can quickly evaluate the results.
In the past, Turbomeca performed this analysis by using a mixture of manual and automated methods. The company developed Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) scripts to automate the analysis of the most important 10% of the files. The number of files that could be automated was limited by the long and difficult process required to produce the VBA code for relatively simple data analysis tasks. Additional problems arose from the fact that Excel® is not designed to deal with the very large files frequently produced in measurement applications, sometimes taking 5 minutes to open a large file. The majority of the data analysis process which was done manually took much longer and there were concerns about potential errors or inconsistent results from different test engineers performing the data analysis their own way.
Meeting the data automation challenge
Speeding up test data analysis
The speed of Turbomeca’s test data analysis process was substantially improved due to the flows created in GlyphWorks and its ability to handle large data files efficiently. Large files that once took five minutes to open now take only ten seconds to open and the typical time required to perform analysis with VBA scripts has been reduced by about two-thirds. Speed is also considerably greater in processes that were once performed manually, typical time required to perform analysis now takes one minute rather than one hour. Besides time savings, automating processes also provides assurance that the analysis is performed exactly the same way every time so that data from different tests or projects can be compared with each other with confidence knowing that each file was analyzed using exactly the same methods.
The result is that the product development process has been significantly improved. “Test data analysis can now be performed faster and more efficiently,” Mialocq said. “We can analyze more tests and larger data sets in a fraction of the time that was required in the past - this helps us in several different ways. Because test data analysis was often a bottleneck in the past, we can now perform more tests and longer tests with a greater number of channels. The result is that we learn more about our proposed design and so we now have the potential to make significant improvements in performance. Increasing the volume of testing also provides greater confidence in our results which helps improve the robustness of our designs. Finally, increasing test data analysis efficiency also offers the potential of reducing time to market” Mialocq continued.
Test data collaboration
About Turbomeca (Safran)
Turbomeca (Safran) is the world’s leading helicopter engine manufacturer and has produced 70,000 turbine engines since the company was founded. Turbomeca serves 2,500 customers in 155 countries. The company has 17 sites, 28 Certified Maintenance centers and 18 repair and overhaul centers around the world. Turbomeca turbines power civil, parapublic and defense helicopters for all the leading helicopter manufacturers. Microturbo, a subsidiary of Turbomeca, is the European leader in turbojet engines for missiles, drones and auxiliary power units.