NI President Discusses the Future of Lean Design at SAE

3/12/2004 - James Truchard, CEO and president of National Instruments, addressed a group of the world’s top automotive engineers at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Congress 2004. As a member of an expert panel that included representatives from Ford, Toyota and Delphi, Truchard explained how virtual instrumentation can optimize the product design and development process by delivering an overall leaner and more streamlined method to link test and design.

The SAE expert panel discussed how today’s competitive business climate is driving the need for faster time-to-market, lower costs and increased initial product quality. The challenges design engineers face include software models lacking real-world calibration, new technologies added late in the design process and the increasing time spent on the complexities of test. Truchard explained that engineers can use virtual instrumentation to overcome these challenges by using a flexible test platform that adapts to new technologies and facilitates the integration of real-world data into all stages of the design flow.

“Virtual instrumentation solidifies the relationship between lean design – using test data to improve simulation models – and lean test – using simulation results to refine tests,” Truchard said. “Design engineers can make significant progress towards the goal of zero prototyping by using real-world data to improve the quality and accuracy of their design iterations and simulations.”

Truchard explained that virtual instrumentation pulls together diverse system components to create an open test platform that takes advantage of the latest technologies. With advances in virtual instrumentation software, the complexities of test technologies are minimized so that design engineers can focus on developing a better product. For example, NI LabVIEW delivers seamless integration with software design tools as well as real-world I/O integration with modular hardware. An open test platform also is ideal for integrating emerging industry standards such as CAN and IEEE P1451.4 for “smart” sensors, as well as the newest component technology such as FPGA and DSP. The end result is a flexible, adaptable system that is more efficient, streamlined and easily updated, saving engineering time and resources.

“Virtual instrumentation reduces the complexity of integrating test equipment and interface technologies with software tools for design and simulation,” Truchard explained. “It encourages engineers to test earlier, more often and with greater reuse of resources.”

Truchard is a cofounder of National Instruments and has served as chief executive officer and president since its inception in 1976. Previously, he worked as managing director of the acoustical measurements division at Applied Research Laboratories at The University of Texas at Austin. Truchard holds a doctorate in electrical engineering, as well as a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in physics, all from The University of Texas at Austin. In 2003, Truchard was inducted into the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, and invited to attend the academy’s annual meeting and dinner in Stockholm with members of the Royal Family and the Swedish government.

About SAE
SAE 2004 World Congress attracts more than 38,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibitors, including leading engineers, industry visionaries, technology leaders and educators from around the world. Since 1947, the SAE World Congress has been the world’s largest meeting and exposition devoted to automotive engineering and product technology. It is a primary forum for technical engineers to meet and exchange ideas with their peers.

About National Instruments
National Instruments ( is a technology pioneer and leader in virtual instrumentation – a revolutionary concept that has changed the way engineers and scientists approach measurement and automation. Leveraging the PC and its related technologies, virtual instrumentation increases productivity and lowers costs through easy-to-integrate software, such as the NI LabVIEW graphical development environment, and modular hardware, such as PXI modules for data acquisition, instrument control and machine vision. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 3,100 employees and direct operations in 40 countries. In 2003, the company sold products to more than 25,000 companies in more than 90 countries. Readers may obtain investment information from the company’s investor relations department at (512) 683-5090, by sending e-mail to or on the Web at

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