Successful Automation Methods Home Page

Analysis - Design - Development - Installation - Support

Introduction
Nortek Automation employs the following structured approach to each new project. The guidelines emphasize initial planning and design which are crucial to successful projects. Successful projects insure the automation system meets or exceeds initial objectives while system costs are minimized. Nortek offers all of the services outlined below as a complete turnkey systems provider or individual components as projects demand.

Conceptual Design, Analysis
The initial planning stage of any project defines the overall system objectives. Answering the question of; "What problem(s) is the system expected to solve?" is a simple way to begin itemizing the primary goals. The following examples are formulated from common answers to the above question;

	* Increased productivity through;
	      higher throughput, reduced operator interaction
	      less machine down time, less maintenance
	* Increased operator safety
	* Increased system reliability
	* Increased product quality through;
	      tighter process control, automated inspection

The conceptual design stage also incorporates analysis exercises such as feasibility studies,cost justification, risk assessment, and option evaluation. The analysis quantifies the system objectives. For example the objective becomes; "a 15% increase in productivity for an estimated system cost of $1000.00".

Functional Definition
The functional definition breaks down the overall system into practical, separately definable, subsystem blocks required to achieve the stated system objectives. For example, the following functions are defined for the operator station, manual control, and automatic control subsystems;

	* The remote operator station shall allow the user
	  to choose between automatic and manual mode.
	* In manual mode the operator shall use the existing
	  speed potentiometer at the motor control panel.
	* The automatic mode shall provide speed adjustment
	  capability at the remote operator station.

Functional descriptions include such information as system throughput, expected performance, reliability, system and subsystem interfaces. The functional definition is generally a narrative document with block diagrams used for illustration.

 System Specifications
Developing system specifications calls upon the mechanical, electrical/electronic, and software engineering disciplines to distill the functional definitions into detailed design documents. The specifications provide engineering data such as power requirements, data rates, memory requirements, response times. The documents are generally narrative and shall be accompanied with preliminary engineering drawings such as schematics, physical layouts, software flow diagrams, and data description tables.

Design and Development
The design stage produces detailed engineering drawings suitable for system fabrication and development. The preliminary engineering documentation from the specification stage is enhanced, added to, and continually refined through design review. The final schematics, assembly drawings, and software module definitions are then released for hardware fabrication and software coding.

Development proceeds incrementally with many intermediate test and review periods. Hardware and software are integrated as early as possible at the lowest level of complexity. Subsystem tests are performed to insure all system specifications are being met.

System Test
A complete system test is performed using simulated inputs and outputs for hardware devices external to the system. Acceptance test documents are submitted to the customer for review early in system development. Test procedures include system wiring verification, power measurements, individual I/O point activation, software verification, system burn-in.

Installation, Start-up
Installation and start-up procedures follow an incremental approach similar to the development stage. Subsystems are placed, tied in, and tested at the lowest practical level. The factory acceptance tests are performed again as initial start-up tests and augmented with procedures to insure proper integration with all field hardware and other systems. The system design engineer is present at start-up to oversee all operations.

Training & Support
The acceptance testing and start-up phases often double as training periods for the end users. The end user gains familiarity with the system by assuming an active role during the installation. The user gets acquainted with the documentation package including schematics, installation drawings, software description of operation, technical and operator manuals. The end user gains crucial first hand knowledge from the system design engineer during start-up. Continuing support is provided by the hardware and software design engineers who performed the system development.

Project Management
Aggressive project management provides the backbone for this structured approach to system development. The project manager adds rigidity and discipline to successful projects by constantly monitoring progress and creating solutions to problems impeding that progress. He provides a smooth channel for each stage of the system design to flow toward successful completion.

The manager insures that design and development work does not stray from the original system objectives. He maintains the long sighted vision for the engineers who are keenly focused on system details.

Analysis - Design - Development - Installation - Support

Successful Automation Methods

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