Verify System Performance with Operational Testing

Testing of structures and systems in normal operation can be fundamental to verifying that everything is operating properly. High vibration levels are often indicative of out-of-tolerance conditions such as imbalance, bearing failure, and poor lubrication, and they may also indicate a resonant condition that was not anticipated during design and installation.

Operational testing is critical to verifying system performance and can lead to a better understanding of overall system health. This type of testing can also help identify and understand the loading conditions that are present during operation. Troubleshooting and operating evaluation can prevent future failures and improve system performance. This type of testing spans all industries—aerospace, automotive, industrial, manufacturing, etc.—and the structures and components present in them.



Vibration is often how problems are identified in operating systems, as high or merely unanticipated vibration often indicates that something is wrong. ATA has instrumentation and data collection equipment able to measure the operational environment of all types of structures and equipment, to help determine whether vibration levels are excessive, understand the frequency content, and identify the root cause of any excessive vibration levels. Our equipment is designed to be deployed in a wide variety of operating environments—from clean-rooms to mining operations.

Measurements at a number of locations make it possible to determine how the different parts of a structure behave relative to each other. ATA can collect data in a manner that allows operating deflection shapes to be observed, enabling a valuable understanding of where critical motion is occurring. Adding other measurements such as tachometers also provides valuable insight into the overall operating conditions and speed relationships. Resonant conditions can be identified with this type of operating test.


In addition to vibration, operating conditions can result in high stress and failure in components subjected to high loads or fatigue-inducing cyclic loads. In many cases, it is important to measure the stress in operating components by using strain gages or other strain transducers. ATA has significant experience in installing and measuring strain data using strain gages and the instrumentation that is required to make these measurements. In cases where finite element models are developed, this information can be combined with testing efforts to ensure that measurements are made at the appropriate locations to achieve the best understanding of structural responses.


Operational testing is often undertaken to gain understanding when there is an observed problem. This troubleshooting type of test program requires good insight into the types of measurements that might be needed to identify the behavior leading to the problem. ATA has a long history of conducting troubleshooting tests to identify and develop solutions to the root causes of problems. Our engineers and test instrumentation can provide the types of field measurements and data analysis needed for identification of causes and recommendations for a solution.


ATA has rugged, battery-powered data acquisition systems that can record strain, acceleration, tachometer, and other signals using a small, stand-alone package. Our hardware is readily deployable to our customers’ sites to obtain in-field operating conditions.

Data acquisition hardware examples:

  • HBM SoMat
  • Brüel & Kjær LAN-XI
  • VTI E1629 strain system
  • Industrial accelerometers
  • Strain gages custom selected for the conditions
  • Proximity probes and tachometers
  • LVDT and string potentiometer displacement transducers



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