DMC recently developed a completely automated test system specifically designed for Battery Management System (BMS) validation, verification, environmental, and Hardware in the loop (HWIL/HIL) testing. The system was developed for a tier-one automotive supplier developing lithium ion battery packs for Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs).
Check out the Battery Management System Test Stand Case Study for a full description of the system.
Here are a few high res photos of the completed system:
SO WHY IS IT SO TALL?
The first question other engineers at DMC asked as the test stand was being assembled was "Why is it so tall?" Soon enough, the DMC office had nicknamed the test stand "The Monolith" as it towered silently above all other equipment in our lab. Then we delivered the test stand to the customer, and the first question people asked as they saw it was a familiar "Why is it so tall?"
The test stand structure was, in fact, chosen with forethought and deliberate planning based on an understanding of the customer's requirements, testing practices, and future plans.
The threefold answer to the question is: Expandability, Modularity, and Mobility
Only about two thirds of the total vertical space in the test stand case was actually used to house the hardware needed to meet the original test stand specifications and requirements. The remaining space was reserved for future use to make the test stand easily expandable and upgradable to meet any yet-to-be-defined features that may be desired down the road. By working side by side with the customer on past projects, DMC has acquired a good understanding of how the customer's testing plans and requirements develop and mature over time. In this project, we knew there was a VERY good chance that ever changing test plans would necessitate new features and new hardware devices in the future. As it turns out, we've already had requests to add some new instruments to the tester, so planning ahead with expansion capacity has already paid off in this area!
The second driving factor in choosing the vertical rack mount structure for the test stand is that it allows us to organize subsystems of the test stand in modular "boxes" that can be easily removed, added, or even vertically rearranged within the test stand. With this setup, if modifications, repairs, or upgrades are required for a particular subsystem of the test stand, that module can be removed (allowing easy access while working on it) and then reinstalled, without requiring any major disassembly and preventing disruption to all other test stand systems. This modular architecture is made possible by the standardized rack mount frame that was utilized and makes for a system with greater overall flexibility and maintainability.
The battery business is a busy one these days, and at the customer's facility, laboratory floor space is in high demand for the various development, testing, and production activities that are all occurring in tandem. As soon as the system went into service, the advantages of having a single, consolidated, and compact test stand with a small horizontal footprint became immediately clear. It was able to be maneuvered conveniently to needed locations so it could churn away at automated test sequences without interfering with other traffic and activities.
So I guess the moral of this story is that developing a successful system is about more than meeting a customers requirements and specifications line item by line item and walking away. At DMC, it involves combining experience (gained from a myriad of past projects) and a full understanding how a particular customer operates (gained by establishing a close working relationship with them). These two elements let DMC go beyond providing a solution that gives the customer what they need today, to make the latent and unmet needs of tomorrow easy to fulfill.