Custom control system manufacturing, factory acceptance testing of subsystems, and site commissioning have traditionally been a long and drawn-out process of:
- Point to point I/O checking
- Cause and effect type analyses
- Methodically troubleshooting
- Adjusting hardware and software
- Documenting all changes
- Repeating until it works
These extensive commissioning processes also require equipment to be fully constructed on-site because of the limited methods available to test the actual system response on anything other than the “real thing”.
For example, simple details like encoder cable data, network connections, and response times are difficult to tune and assess without the real system inter-dependencies in place. So, the design team can never be 100% certain the system will function as intended until the actual site is constructed and the “real-life” tests and tuning are completed. In some cases, this process can take years, and we all know costs escalate quickly the further away you are from the factory floor.
The good news is there’s a better way, Skinner Box hardware commissioning.
For Skinner Box commissioning we bring the entire site into a box and put it on the factory floor so we can run individual components as though they are operating within the entire field-deployed system. This is far more than just a simple simulation as it includes dispersed hardware inside the control loop. The real magic of this method is how we’ve combined two classic techniques to modernize the way we design and commission complex systems:
- The Skinner Box: Used by B.F. Skinner, the Skinner Box permits experimenters to study behavior conditioning (training) by teaching a subject/computer to perform certain actions (like pressing a lever) in response to specific stimuli (such as a light or sound signal) When the subject correctly performs the behavior the chamber mechanism delivers food or another reward. In our case, it will be a pass or a fail.
- The Turing Machine: A concept developed by Alan Turing, a system is cycled through and adapting to changing vectors of inputs as they occur to determine either a pass, fail, or tuning request.
Applying these techniques simultaneously enables a system that ensures a higher level of confidence for the customer while reducing unforeseeable challenges during the most expensive and dynamic part of any project, site commissioning.
Finally, once we have the test package up and running, we package it into an easy-to-deploy, automated quality control process to give our customers a fully documented, working system…right out of the box.