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The latest systems allow remote visual management of test facilities using IP camera technology. Being able to remotely view, record and replay video feeds, either manually or automatically is now easy to implement and cost effective with low cost cameras, simple connection to existing Ethernet networks and efficient streaming of video over networks.

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adlogoEngine cold cell testing systems for engine remanufacturer.

Autocraft Drivetrain Solutions Ltd is the largest independent engine remanufacturer in Europe, supplying exclusively OE manufacturers such as Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo, Aston Martin, GM and Chrysler.

Located at their Grantham (UK) facility, the company operated two Prodigy systems (supplied in 1999 and upgraded in 2007) that interfaced to their five existing Cold Cell Rigs (three connect to one system and two to the other). These rigs, combined with fixed facility assets, such as motor drives and engine water cooling systems, provide the capability of automated cold running of remanufactured Internal Combustion Engines. This functionality is a requirement to mechanically test and validate the correct operation of the remanufactured engines, prior to customer shipment.

Each Prodigy system comprises of a local PC running the Prodigy software, and a set of I/O interface cards that link to the relevant engine Cold Cell Rigs. The systems were configured to carry out a number of functions including: engine test control sequences according to pre-defined test schedules; data acquisition functions including test log recording and real time trend recording; safety and warning alarm control actions; and report generation.

In order to provide a better level of redundancy and to reduce issues with the pre-defined test and alarm schedules, the topology of the Cold Rig systems was changed as part of the project, as can be seen in Diagram 1 below.

engine cold cell test system layout

Diagram 1 – Site Infrastructure

Each cold cell Test Rig comprises of an independent Prodigy system that includes a new Remote I/O Panel, HMI screen, serial barcode scanner, and label printer. The barcode scanner and label printer were supplied by the customer to retain commonality with their current production installed equipment and systems.

The Remote I/O Panels are fitted with an I/O unit that provides a set of linear analogue inputs, thermocouple inputs, analogue outputs, volt free digital inputs, and relay outputs. These are linked to a local Prodigy system small format PC through a LAN interface and this also provides a mechanism for communicating with the label printer.

One of the Rigs also has an existing I/O panel that is used for cylinder pressure measurements. This is interfaced to through the same rig based LAN connection.

A second LAN port on each Prodigy system is used to link it back to the main site LAN. This allows a Central Server PC to host test and alarm schedules so that the same versions can be used on all rigs. This Central Server is a virtual machine, supplied by the customer and also runs Prodigy software so that test schedules can be amended and validated centrally, test results collected in an SQL database, and the current status of all five rigs can be collated. This information is then presented on a Live Stats Screen.

Within weeks of the new system going live there was notable improvement in throughput and quality.

  • By tracking operator performance the number of engines per operator per day has increased significantly. Best practices are now being used by all operators.
  • The use of barcode scanners eliminates errors due to incorrect transcription of data.
  • Realisation that a number of engines were being re-tested unnecessarily has reduced workload.

engine cold cell test display