Royal NLR is the Netherlands’ research centre for aerospace. NLR works objectively and independently with its partners towards a better world of tomorrow. NLR has several leading research facilities, including a laboratory for the mechanical testing of materials and products. These tests are done for customers all over the world and are used to determine the mechanical properties of materials and products.
The tests are carried out in accordance with a standard, a standard with deviation or a compliant own method. Quality assurance and efficient implementation of these projects are becoming increasingly important. This will become even more important when NLR expands its work to include standardised testing with accreditation. This will be the basis for their intended ISO 17025 accreditation. Gert Bos is happy to tell us more about how KE-chain helps them.
Managing coupon test projects; lots of data and calculations
Gert has experienced all sides of mechanical testing work as an operator, project manager and currently also as the person responsible for quality assurance. Gert: “Many projects we do are coupon test programmes. The aim of the project is to determine the mechanical properties of a composite or metal. We do that with tensile tests, compression tests and bending tests, which are performed at various temperatures ranging from -170 to +1500 degrees Celsius. The properties are determined on the basis of various standards such as ASTM, ISO, NEN-EN or customer-specific standards like the AITM standards of Airbus. This differs per customer and project, as does the number of tests. This number can vary from a few dozen to more than a thousand.”
Gert: “Keeping these projects manageable is quite a challenge. The work we do per project is to set up a test programme, carry out the tests, assess the test results, calculate the mechanical properties and report all results in a traceable manner. Previously, each project manager did it on his own. Using large Excel tables, all the information was kept up to date. This led to different versions of the tables with different data. We also used different scripts to send or retrieve data to the test bench and for calculating the mechanical properties. This made it cluttered and took more searching to do.”
The number of tests can vary from a few dozen to over a thousand. Keeping these projects manageable is quite a challenge.
Reducing variations in working methods, dates and standards
NLR has been searching for some time for a solution to make these projects more manageable and thus reduce the variations in working methods, data and standards. Gert: “Before we started working with you, we also carefully checked whether KE-chain had the necessary features. For example, the fact that we can manage our own scripts is very important to us. “
“We have set up KE-chain as the programme to manage coupon test programmes. The new way of working with KE-chain is that everything is now centralised in one place. The work instructions are now predefined in templates, making the work per project faster and more unambiguous. The project leaders set up the project on the basis of standard templates and can deviate from them if the project requires so. The standard templates are divided into the various test categories that we use for our customers.”
“With KE-chain we can work much more efficiently. You now have a real overview and don’t have to search for information as much. It helps that all information is together, such as test data and photos. In combination with the linked scripts, there is much less manual work for the expert and the technical reports are now compiled automatically.”
With KE-chain we can work much more efficiently. You now have a real overview and less need to search for information.
Managing our own scripts
It took some time to find the right furnishings. Gert: “You have to put in some time to make it your own. I notice that by now I can easily click through everything and find my information. I don’t spend much time on the KE-chain setup and I can spend my time on our test specific scripts. I was also really well supported during the setup and everything was solved quickly.”
“What I am most excited about now? That you can script. I can script randomly and actually determine everything myself. I can really write the script to measure. This helps to develop quickly and test if it works well.”
I am most enthusiastic about the scripts. I can script randomly and actually determine everything myself. I can really write the script to measure.