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10 Reasons To Buy a SureFire Airbag System

1. To ensure the safety of your operators

An automated airbag test system provides for control over safety interlocks such as emergency stop switches, warning lights, warning buzzers, door sensors, electronic door locks and ventilation. Under control of the automated test system software, the safety interlocks ensure the safety of you and your operators. After all, while an airbag is intended to save lives during a collision, it is an explosive and potentially life threatening component that needs to be treated with respect and with care during the test process.


2. To measure squib current readback

Why did the airbag you just fired reach full inflation later than you expected it to? Was it a defective airbag, or perhaps the cover, instrument panel, or seat impeded it's progress. Your first check should be to determine if both the primary and secondary stage of the airbag fired. This can be checked through x-ray analysis, or by simply looking at the squib current readback data that your automated airbag test system acquired. If you see that current flowed through the squib and the squib broke down, you can be reasonably certain that the airbag fired as expected. If there was no squib current on either stage, then the problem is likely with the airbag module and not with the airbag cover, IP or seat.


3. To provide accurate squib fire timing and triggering

With dual stage airbag technology becoming more common, it is increasingly critical to ensure that the timing between firing the two stages is accurate and reliable. In addition, all of your timing measurements rely on knowing what is "time zero". An automated airbag test system will control the firing of your airbag, trigger your high speed video cameras and your high speed data acquisition equipment to ensure that you have a consistent time zero. With this important factor assured, you can take accurate time measurements of first movement, peak pressure, full inflation, and other performance parameters.


4. To measure internal airbag pressure and other transducers

Airbag testing for product development can have as many as 32 channels of sensor data if you are performing out-of-position (OOP) testing on a side airbag. Even during lot acceptance testing (LAT), you may on occasion be supplied with an airbag that has a pressure port. To this pressure port you hook up an internal airbag pressure sensor, and cable back to your automated airbag test system. The automated airbag test system will provide power and signal conditioning to the sensor, anti-alias filter the data, convert the raw signal to engineering units such as psi or kPa, and store the data in a commercial format for easy access and analysis. While this can be performed using an oscilloscope, your operators will spend hours downloading, converting and organizing the data into a useable format. An automated airbag test system will do this consistently and reliably, and provide the data for analysis within seconds following the deployment. Isn't that what computers are for?


5. For automated control of high speed video equipment

One of the most important components of an automated airbag test system are the high speed video cameras and related equipment. Prior to deploying an airbag the cameras must be configured with the correct recording speed, exposure, color balance and pre/post trigger frames. The photographic lights have to be turned on immediately prior to the deployment, but not too far in advance or they will heat up your test samples. A hardware trigger must be provided at exactly time zero, which is the time that the airbags begin to fire. Following the deployment the captured video data must be retrieved, color corrected and converted from their native format (often Bayer) to TIFF or AVI. Then the data must be archived with a directory structure convention that will make it easy to find the data later on. This procedure can be performed manually using the control panel software that comes with the camera, but this approach is time consuming and it is easy to make mistakes. A mistake in this procedure can mean that you do not capture any video data at all! Even if no mistakes are made, your operators will have to spend between 30 minutes and several hours each test doing what your automated airbag test system can do reliably, consistently and faster. This frees up your technician to perform more important tasks.


6. For reliable and consistent results

From properly setting up the high speed cameras, to ensuring that the squibs, cameras and data acquisition all start at time zero, to properly converting and saving the video and sensor data, an automated airbag test system can perform these tasks reliably, consistently and faster than a manual solution. This frees up time for your operators to do other, more important tasks. After all, doing "more with less" is how business is done in the 21st century.


7. Digital data allows for advanced analysis

You test your product in order to make important quality and performance evaluations. You can do this the easy way or the hard way. The hard way is to force operators to measure off of TV monitors or paper plots. Perhaps they can hold up multiple paper plots to the light to see the difference between test samples. You can give your operators two VCR's and two TV monitors, and with one remote control in each hand they can "synchronize" the playback from two cameras. Don't laugh, there are still some companies operating this way. Obviously there is a better way. An automated airbag test system will acquire and save your data in standard digital formats, and provide you with analysis tools to allow your operators to quickly and easily understand the data. They can display multiple cameras views, synchronize their playback, and even synchronize their sensor data with their video data. All measurements are as accurate as the data allows, no more guessing or fudging of data is required.


8. For integrated temperature data

Your customer has asked you to prove that the airbag your deployed 6 months ago was really soaking at +80C for 4 hours, as per the specification. You can spend hours looking through filing cabinets filled with circular paper charts, try to figure out how to mark your time zero on the chart, and then take a guess what the temperature really was because the pen in the chart recorder was running low on ink and the chart has faded. Today's automated airbag test systems treat temperature data as important test data, measuring and saving it digitally, and archiving it along with the rest of the test data for easy recall.


9. A fully automated system allows operation by junior technicians instead of engineers

With so much equipment to configure and setup prior to each test, critical data conversion and manipulation to be performed, the alternative to using an automated airbag test system is to hire a full time, highly trained engineer. The better decision is to save this money (and headcount) and allow the automated airbag test system to do it's job. Not only does this approach result in better data and faster decisions, in the long run it is also less expensive. You boss will appreciate the cost-savings and your customers will appreciate the quality of your test data.


10. A fully automated test system improves productivity
Automated your airbag testing means your operators can do more things within their busy day. Using technology to improve productivity is smart.


Plus one bonus reason.....

11. A professionally made test system displays your commitment to quality

Your business is more competitive than ever. You need to do everything possible to retain your existing customers and attract new business. Of course your automated airbag test system will allow you to save costs, improve productivity and make better decisions. What it will also do is demonstrate your company's long-term commitment to quality, to providing the tools you need in order to do the job. Many companies will turn their automated airbag test system into a showpiece, and include it on every tour and display pictures in their marketing materials. Customers love it and so will you.

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