Equipment producers are playing their part with smarter, easier-to-use equipment. In leak detection, Cincinnati
Test Systems (Cleves, OH, U.S.) has a system that simultaneously determines leak location and total leak rate, providing real-time process control. Better yet, the leak location is shown on an on-screen graphic for visual recognition.
The company's Falcon Leak Test System interfaces with a matrix of strategically integrated sensors to identify the leak location and measure the accumulative leak rate for the part. The system is said to bridge the gap between traditional pressure decay technology and helium vacuum mass spectrometry, reportedly providing cost-effective leak testing performance as a result of its advanced proprietary technology. Data are stored for leak trend tracking, and the system interfaces with factory communication systems in real-time.
Instruments U.S. Inc. (Tampa, FL, U.S.) is phasing out
its range of analog safety testing instruments and replacing
them with a new product portfolio using the latest digital
technology. This will reportedly help manufacturers of
electrical and electronic products meet international
and product-specific standards. The new range will incorporate
a host of new technical features and specifications.
Included will be models from entry-level instrumentation
through more comprehensive testers for SME manufacturing
environments. Specialist instruments are available for
more demanding conformance and type testing applications.
Advanced PC-controlled instruments have been developed
for sophisticated production line testing.
"The system will revolutionize leak testing for many manufacturers because it locates leaks and qualifies the leak integrity of parts simultaneously," says Gary Grebe, the company's marketing director. "This
gives them immediate process feedback to improve their manufacturing
and save money. They will save capital equipment expenses, floor
space, operator time, and scrap production."
Dwayne Davis, technical
service manager at Associated
Research, Inc. (Lake Forest, IL, U.S.), says
he sees increased use of test automation in the production environment.
Automation generally leads to greater efficiency, he feels. "Test stations can be configured to test multiple products," he says. "Automation
allows for multiple test setup storage, so that there is greater
flexibility in the manufacturing line. Without this capability, the
manufacturer would most likely need two separate production lines
or have instruments switched in and out in a single line.
Falcon Leak Test System from Cincinnati
Test Systems (Cleves,
OH, U.S.) measures the total part leak rate and shows, with
an on-screen graphic, the leak location. The
system communicates the location and leak rate to the operator
and factory network.
"This also results in less time spent programming in tests and setting test parameters," he adds. "An
operator, who may be required to perform several safety tests such
as a hipot and ground bond, can run these tests much more quickly
and often times through a single instrument that only requires
a single Device Under Test (DUT) connection. This saves an operator
from having to change and manipulate test leads.
"Recording test data can be of significant value in protecting manufacturers in product liability situations," he continues. "Automation
also makes it easier to capture, store, and analyze test data. This
information can be initially viewed in a graphic or detailed format,
stored in an ASCII format, or exported to any database or spreadsheet
program. Depending on the requirements of the manufacturer, this
can be a great benefit."
He says that if data need to be stored, this is a much better solution than manual recording pass/fail statistics. A manual process of recording data many times will result in a loss of productivity. Manual processes can also result in inaccuracies in the test data. In a busy production environment, distractions can occur. That may cause the recorder to make an unintentional error. These errors are eliminated by the automatic storage of test data. All of these benefits mean increased levels of efficiency that will, in turn, lead to greater throughput.
Given the wide variety of testing opportunities, some appliance producers use other companies to perform or supplement some of their non-production testing. This is especially true during product development or to meet product benchmarks.
There are a host of firms
that handle non-safety testing for appliance companies. Some of these
began in the safety testing areas and have branched out. One example,
(see "Speeding 510(k) Approvals") is Underwriters
with two medical appliance companies.
Another medical case history, "Testing to Internal Standards," looks
at Intertek's role in assuring performance of a Philips magnetic
resonance (MR) camera prior to hospital acceptance. The testing company
says it possesses comprehensive expertise in the requirements and
regulations pertaining to medical engineering equipment. Besides
safety testing and the inspection of heavy installed healthcare equipment,
the company works in areas such as EMC, certification, and design
Company (Ardmore, OK, U.S.), it is becoming common for
more manufacturers to perform ground bond tests as a production
tool, despite the fact that the companies are not required
to do so. This may be in part because manufacturers see the
overall effectiveness of the ground bond test as a production
tool. It is also advantageous for them to provide the safest
possible product. The ground bond test helps ensure this.
A third reason is that it is becoming easier to perform the
test. Today's technology allows both the hipot and ground
bond tests to be performed through a single connection. This
is accomplished through interconnected hipot and ground bond
testers. There is no need to have connections removed after
performing one test and replaced before performing the other.
Therefore, safety can be ensured without sacrificing productivity
Climate Technologies (Sydney, OH, U.S.) is a specialist in commercial refrigeration equipment. Its Design Services Network's testing facility houses equipment that can fully test and evaluate a variety of refrigeration equipment and systems in a range of environmental conditions. A team of Emerson experts tests the performance, quality, and safety of the equipment by utilizing sound chambers, controlled ambient rooms, calorimeters, air-flow tunnels, and more. Expertise ranges from thermal system analysis to fatigue and failure analysis, as well as sound, vibration, and Finite Element Analysis. The company's chemical labs are set up for advanced evaluation of refrigerants, lubricants, and their interactions.
Appliance maker Sub Zero
Freezer Company, Inc. (Madison, WI, U.S.) has used Emerson in testing
materials used in premium refrigerators. "The appliance company had done theoretical work on the materials, but wanted to validate its work by actual testing," notes Chris Mays, program manager for Emerson. "We conducted two rounds of thermal shock testing, [with] the most recent in mid-2003. Basically, the tests consisted of cyclic thermal shock in ambient temperatures of -20¡F and 140¡F.
During the cyclic testing, the materials were analyzed to measure
consistency and structural integrity."
"As a first-time customer of Design Services Network, I was very impressed with the quality level of equipment testing they provided," says Shawn Miller, an engineer with Sub-Zero. "The
company's testing methods and procedures were organized, the testing
was carried out correctly, and projects were completed on schedule."
In the commercial gas
appliance area, the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) in Des Plaines,
IL, U.S. has had a role in the development of several successful
food service products, including the Stellar Sirius boilerless steamer.
Details are found in the article, "Sirius Development Work."
2003 Quality & Testing Feature: