Friday, October 22, 2010

Testing component for smart gas meters

Custom-built test system boosts productivity at Landis+Gyr’s Stockport plant

A custom-built automatic test system supplied by the Peak Group is helping to boost productivity for the world's leading manufacturer of smart gas meters.

The system, installed at Landis+Gyr's meter manufacturing plant in Stockport (GB), automatically tests and sorts the key components that form the heart of the company's solid-state gas meters. Landis+Gyr is the leading provider of integrated energy management solutions tailored to energy company needs. With a global presence and a reputation for quality and innovation, Landis+Gyr is unique in its ability to deliver true end-to-end advanced metering solutions.

The Stockport plant is the company's 'centre of excellence' for gas meters, producing in-house developed instruments.

Until recently, tests on a key component on these products were carried out on a machine which had a relatively large footprint and high running costs. The test equipment also utilised an electromechanical arm which contributed significantly to the measurement cycle time because it generated electromagnetic interference through its use of electric motors. This meant that the tests could only be done while the motors were not in operation, thereby producing 'non value add' test cycle time.

In order to address Landis+Gyr's need to increase its production capacity for this key component, the company approached The Peak Group - who had previously supplied test fixtures for other applications within the company. The project brief was to see if Peak could develop a faster, more compact and environmentally friendly solution.

The specification for the testing machine laid down a minimum of six test points and 13 ejection points for sorted components, and required that the machine should minimise the use of electric motors and PLCs to reduce the amount of electrical noise within the machine. In addition, the footprint of the machine and test equipment was targeted not to exceed 1.4 × 1.4 m, and it had to increase the production capacity by a minimum of 35%.

The solution developed by Peak achieved the defined criteria, using a rotary table to transfer the components from one test station to the next and making use of pneumatic rather than electric controls to effect mechanical movements.

The project delivered a new test strategy, meeting agreed performance levels and ensuring that all environmental and Health & Safety requirements were met.

"From the conception of this project through to completion The Peak Group worked very closely with Landis+Gyr to deliver a machine capable of fulfilling targeted production output with full test coverage", says Garry Bower, Senior Production Engineer at Landis+Gyr, who project-managed the introduction of the new machine: "We now have the opportunity to fit another machine or process in the space that has been created by the reduction in footprint".

This collaboration project was based upon The Peak Group being responsible for all mechanical aspects of the system and its interface with the Landis+Gyr control electronics and in-house written specification test software.

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