What is LabVIEW?
LabVIEW is a graphical programming environment developed by National Instruments. It is an environment that is particularly suitable for control technology, data acquisition, and communication with measuring instruments. The LabVIEW programming language includes the same language constructs and data structures as traditional programming languages, allowing LabVIEW to be used to create a wide variety of software applications. LabVIEW can be used under Windows, Linux and OS X.
What can you do with LabVIEW?
LabVIEW can be seen in both the production and the test process and can play a major role in automation for both. Examples are:
- Food & Agri
- Consumer products
- Construction & Infrastructure
- Maritime & Offshore
- Transport & Logistics
- Plastics & Packaging
LabVIEW is a programming language specially made for automating (industrial) processes. It is widely used for the following reasons:
Because LabVIEW is graphical and already supports many basic functions, a programmer can quickly find a solution to complex problems.
LabVIEW also has many application specific toolkits. These toolkits can be installed by the programmer and make it possible to solve domain specific problems. Examples of these toolkits are:
- Sound and vibration analysis
- Digital filters
- Real-time video analysis
LabVIEW integrates without problems with all hardware from National Instruments and also with all other hardware that can communicate with a computer. LabVIEW supports a large number of protocols as standard such as:
- Modbus (RTU en TCP/IP)
- Serial bus protocols over RS232, RS485, RS422
- SMTP email
- High-level data communication protocols such as MQTT
Everything from one platform
With LabVIEW it is possible to create Microsoft Windows programs, among other things. But with LabVIEW it is also possible to program real-time systems and even FPGAs. Normally for these three variants you need three programmers with all three different specialties.
With LabVIEW it is possible that the programmer can program these three disciplines with and through each other without any problems without having to specialize in, for example, VHDL (FPGA), C++ (Windows) or C (Embedded real-time).
What is a LabVIEW programmer capable of?
A LabVIEW programmer can quickly solve difficult problems. Something that takes months in C++, can often take weeks in LabVIEW. It is therefore very advantageous to have some tasks done by a LabVIEW programmer.
Test systems are ideal for programming with LabVIEW. This has a number of reasons.
First of all
National Instruments supplies hardware that is perfectly suited to work with LabVIEW and use in test systems. This includes analog I/O and digital I/O, but also complex protocols such as EtherCAT or CAN bus can easily be tested.
It is possible to have LabVIEW generate reports automatically. These are reports showing any test with a “PASS” or “FAILED”. On this report you can of course display the scanned serial number and the code of the tester, so that each product can be easily found. It is also possible to connect this data with, for example, an ERP system.
LabVIEW is ideal for testing systems because it can do everything automatically. It is even possible to run tests semi-automatically. So, for example, the test waits until the test personnel has connected certain cables.
Vision systems include checking whether there are scratches on a plastic plate, or checking whether a biscuit has the correct shape, or determining the droplet distribution and droplet size of a water spray head, or crop recognition.
Vision is something that is really tough in other programming languages. Especially if it has to be done in real time. LabVIEW has toolkits for this that ensure that real-time vision systems can be easily made.
With systems such as the CompactRIO, CompactDAQ and PXI chassis, as well as PC based systems, LabVIEW is ideal for data acquisition.
Consider, for example, things such as predictive maintenance or batch errors or high speed data acquisition and on-the-fly data analysis. The data required for this can be easily retrieved and analysed with the hardware of National Instruments and LabVIEW as software.
C++ with LabVIEW
Does your company need something that is not standard in LabVIEW? Consider, for example, a protocol implementation that is not very well known. Then it is possible to load C++ in LabVIEW.
This is done by means of a DLL (Dynamic Link Library), this is a dynamic “library” that is programmed in C++. To program this DLL you need a programmer who understands C++.