MTS TestSuite™ Software: Test Definition AdvantagesDr. Christoph Leser, materials testing product manager at MTS, applies 20 years of experience to his work as a researcher, test engineer, application engineer and test consultant. He currently serves as a subcommittee chairperson for ASTM. In this Q&A, Dr. Leser talks about the unique challenges facing material test creation and definition today, as well as how MTS’ flagship software platform is designed specifically to address those challenges.
Q: What primary challenges do material test developers face?
Leser: These test engineers face constant pressure to do more in less time while maintaining superior testing precision, despite the fact that today’s material tests are becoming increasingly complex. Tests must be developed quickly, correctly and in a way that allows results to be shared around the world, all with working in multiple languages and in compliance with a unified set of organizational and industry standards.
The decisions made during test development can have a far-reaching impact on the efficiency and productivity of a material test lab, because those decisions will ultimately impact how quickly and accurately the tests can be executed by other personnel, including some who may be relatively new to the test lab or to testing altogether. Therefore, it is critical that test developers have the most flexible and capable software tools at their disposal when designing tests.
Q. In what ways does MTS address these challenges?
Leser: One primary way is through our flagship test software platform, MTS TestSuite™. We designed this software as an easy-to-use and adaptable solution for optimizing material testing capability and productivity. It includes a set of applications, modules and templates that can be configured to align exactly with the needs of any test program, helping to enhance efficiency while controlling costs.
MTS TestSuite software offers the industry’s most powerful and flexible test creation and definition capabilities. It also supports many technologies and test types, varying levels of operator expertise plus a wide range of languages.
Q. What software capabilities are most beneficial to test developers in particular?
Leser: First of all, MTS TestSuite software offers a two-dimensional Test Editor feature, which allows users to save time by creating tests in a similar way to how they see them in their heads. To design a test, they simply drag and drop activities into a workspace on the screen, with a clear graphical depiction of the entire test sequence visible while the test is being built. Activities can be added, removed or moved around at any time. Users also get real-time alerts whenever a calculation is incorrect or information is missing, which helps to simplify troubleshooting.
For example, a test can indicate a step to send an email. The text in the body of the email can be stored in a variable. Also, it is possible to launch an external application during a test. The parameters used by the external program can be managed by a variable, allowing them to be easily changed during the test run.
Additionally, the test developer will find flexibility to get creative and solve complex problems faster. We’ve built the Iron Python open-source programming language interface into the TestSuite software to simplify the design of complex tests, allowing the creation of multi-line programs for calculations such as “if-else” statements and calls to external routines. The real-time validation feature I mentioned earlier works in the open-source environment, too, so the test developer will receive an alert the moment a user-defined calculation is off or information is missing.
Lastly, test developers will find our large and growing library of MTS TestSuite test templates, methods and modules to be extremely useful. These tools allow for tests to be designed quickly as linear executions according to specific industry standards, simplifying test execution to a matter of entering some numbers and then running the test through to completion. They can be used as-is or modified to meet specific needs. For more sophisticated tests, test developers may purchase advanced templates or modules or even have MTS develop custom packages.
Q. How will this test definition functionality ultimately impact test execution?
Leser: Test setups can be designed to allow executions that are simple, straightforward and nearly routine, with minimal operator intervention required. The advanced user can feel confident about delegating test execution to personnel who specialize in test execution, including those with limited amounts of experience.
On top of these benefits delivered through smart test definition, MTS TestSuite software also includes many advanced tools and capabilities within the test execution interface itself — so many, in fact, that this subject warrants a separate conversation.
In the next issue of Force & Motion: Dr. Leser will discuss the unique features and capabilities that MTS TestSuite software brings to test execution.
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