Industrial Automation & Sensors Blog

Data-Hungry Enterprises with Intricate DAQ Systems Require Sophisticated SW Development Platforms

by Natasha Menon | 09/01/2016

As data-mining techniques have gained paramount importance across every industry, the associated devices and software solutions handling these tasks have become integral for every enterprise. Chasing data has transformed every enterprise operation – from managing massive production lines in factories, tracking assets in remote locations or analyzing customer behavior in retail stores. Never before have large streams of data been scrutinized at such granular levels to drive operational efficiency, improve agility, manage costs and reduce redundancies to achieve a diverse set of goals concurrently within organizations. As data acquisition, interpretation and analysis takes precedence for daily functions within the industrial environment, the need for sophisticated data acquisition devices and software solutions automatically becomes a fundamental component of the ever-changing IT eco-system. Data acquisition systems have been around for sometime in the industrial environment, becoming sophisticated as each year passes. Numerous vendors offer data acquisition devices and associated software and service solutions catering to the need of these systems.

With the rapid adoption of emerging technology trends around Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the key to success with data acquisition systems is achieving interoperability between various devices to acquire and integrate data. However, acquiring and integrating data is only the first half of the equation as the ability to run data on single software development platform after acquiring it from multiple sources is often the most essential component to drive value.

National Instrument’s LabView software development platform has been well-accepted among students, engineers, scientists and other professionals working with data acquisition devices for the last three decades. LabVIEW’s interoperability between legacy 3rd party devices and in-house hardware makes it fairly attractive as many organizations are not yet ready to do away with age-old infrastructure. The ability to maintain interoperability between their new and legacy assets makes it easier to use software platforms catering to diverse device needs.

Recently National Instruments announced an update to its LabVIEW software offering additional features, add-on modules and opening up the flood gates to a large user community that intrigued me. LabVIEW 2016 is now compatible with different operating systems such as MAC OS and Linux as well as development frameworks such as Eclipse among others. However, LabVIEW 2016 provides users with the added functionality for FPGA-based programming by using simple block codes rather than compiling pages of complex codes. Lack of skilled FPGA programmers and complicated HDL coding makes this an attractive feature, even though this functionality is yet to uncover its full potential. While  provisions to enable FPGA programming in faster run-time is impressive, the first logical step would be making provisions to handle numerous intricate and complicated applications with slower downtime. LabVIEW 2016 new add-on modules such as control design and simulation module, Mathscript RT module, VI analyzer toolkit, Unit Test Framework toolkit and desktop execution trace tool kit are designed to deal with larger volumes of data and minimal amounts of memory. We also believe that National Instrument’s LabView 2016 hit the jack pot by investing in training modules, product literature and technical guides, providing 24/7 human resources for support and encouraging community forums. Leveraging the open source community to tap into vast pool of technical users is immensely valuable to uncovering larger community of potential customers and improving the popularity of the products beyond geographic boundaries.

Data-hungry professionals will drive the demand for sophisticated data acquisition devices and associated software solutions, suppliers will play a pivotal role in attempts to cater to the growing needs of this market. National Instrument’s LabVIEW 2016 has been designed to meet the requirements of this emerging market of professionals by leveraging open community forums and making significant improvements to their software platform. Previous versions of LabView have often faced criticism as applications tend to run slower or require high performance multi-core to reduce runtime. Although

National Instruments LabView 2016 may not be the perfect solution for all data acquisition device needs, the latest version of the software illustrates the importance of integrating multiple hardware devices on a single application development platform is crucial to dive into valuable data and produce actionable insights. As data acquisition device suppliers attempt to gain additional market share, providing integrated solution kits of software and services will become essential for these systems.  Solutions such as those from NI that offer add-on modules, enhanced application development functionalities, customizable UIs, detailed product literature and real-time live support will be tremendously valuable to future IIoT deployments.