Kistler is driving the digital evolution of measurement technology ahead

“From sensor to cloud” – this is the vision that Kistler intends to realize in the 2020s. What is almost always the starting-point for developments and processes supported by measurement technology? The necessary data, of course. So data provision and integrity are the most critical factors. Going forward, the software components involved will increasingly be operated as flexible, highly available services in the cloud. So the motto really ought to be: “From cloud to sensor”. The new Kistler Digital Hub is where all data from highly dynamic distributed measurement setups will come together.

How is digitalization driving the evolution of measurement technology? To answer this question, let's look at an example. Kistler has collaborated with Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) on a current project to improve brake maintenance on local trains. Until now, every single wheel had to be equipped with a sensor and measured, and then the values were recorded on paper. But thanks to the new digitally-based solution, four sensors can be deployed at the same time. The benefit: now, only one measurement is needed for each bogie. Evaluation and reporting are also handled automatically. Originals of generated reports and related raw data are stored in a digitally sealed package that is protected against modifications. As a recent case of data manipulation in SBB's own operation showed, this is quite an important feature.

But the benefits of the new digital solution go far beyond more efficient and reliable brake force measurements. Thanks to the modular design principle, multiple brake force measuring systems can be cascaded to create a larger system solution. Going forward, this will open the way to semi- or fully-automated measurements of entire trains in just one step. Extending the measuring channels and using pressure sensors can deliver another advantage: in parallel with the real brake force built up on the wheel, the pneumatic pressure can also be measured to gain information about the condition of the entire braking system. Highly structured raw data collected for all historical measurements is also available for later analysis. This forms the basis for services such as condition-related maintenance, provides knowledge about the product lifecycle and – ultimately – leads to improved design of components such as bogies.

Exactly as much software as you need

Kistler offers a holistic, open and modular software concept – opening the way for its customers to benefit from the advantages of digital measuring chains step by step, with no need to fear the drawbacks of disruptive change. All the individual software modules and interfaces – whether device-based, application-oriented or process-specific – are designed so they can be combined with additional modules and services. This approach ensures that users get exactly the (software) functionality they need for their tasks. Kistler also opts for open, interface-oriented software architecture. Users can always integrate their own routines, control and automate work steps via script, and integrate devices or software modules from other providers into their measurement technology ecosystem.

The basic version of a software solution from Kistler will differ depending not only on the functional scope required, but also on the intended application. To take an example: the jBEAM analysis and visualization software is available in various versions such as Starter or Professional, and there are also special editions for specific industries such as jBEAM Powertrain and jBEAM Durability for automotive applications. To sum up: from a range of specific versions and packages, Kistler's customers can select the exact software scope that best meets their requirements.  

Everything on one platform: welcome to the Digital Hub!

Most measurement technology software is still sold in the form of licensed products with strictly limited scope. It is installed on the customer's hardware (the development engineer's laptop, for instance) and is updated at varying (usually regular) intervals. But this approach reaches its limits when it comes to collaborative work processes and flexible, spatially distributed measurement tasks. In these situations, data and information must be accessible anytime and anywhere. Standardized software editions with a fixed range of functions are designed with a focus on efficient, user-friendly processing of industry-specific tasks. They do not claim to map individualized and specific usage scenarios.

That's why Kistler has turned the tables by developing the Digital Hub. This will be a platform with dual benefits: Software-as-a-Service (software availability based on usage) combined with Platform-as-a-Service (a robust, fast and open environment for developing specific-purpose measurement technology applications). In just a few steps, every software developer should be able to develop their custom measurement data application on the Digital Hub. That's the underlying vision of this digitalization initiative.

Kistler is going to create the Digital Hub to give customers a reliable infrastructure for their development work. The developers focus on these requirements:

  • Secure management of extensive distributed measurement setups
  • Fast processing of all measurement data with minimal latency
  • All data flows must be complete and synchronized, including all relevant metainformation
  • Guaranteed data integrity and confidentiality throughout the measuring chain

Big Test Data: start small, think big

Extensive globally distributed measurement setups continuously generate huge volumes of data. To operate them successfully, you need flexibility and a high level of data security. That's why the Digital Hub gives you features such as multitenancy and selectable data storage – either in the Digital Hub itself, with your preferred cloud provider, or on-premises in your own data center. “And best of all: new users can start out small, test things out first – and if they work, gradually add scope and functions,” says Stefan Appl, Lead Enterprise IoT Architect at Kistler. There are plenty of options: tools such MaDaM for professional indexing and management of Big Test Data, or easy integration and training of machine learning frameworks such as TensorFlow with direct access to recorded high-quality measurement data. Appl concludes: “The principle here is: only pay for what you actually use. Have we sparked your interest? Then contact us, and start your journey into the world of distributed dynamic measurement technology today!” 

 

More on this topic

The new Brake Force Measurement Solution: making local train maintenance more efficient.
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Application-specific versions of the jBEAM software – to get the most out of measurement data.
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