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How can the right industrial control solution improve quality assurance?

Industry - Gas

Summary: Vapor Systems Technologies manufactures hardware for gas dispensers.  Their goal has always been to run their products through 1,000,000 test cycles in order to ensure that they only bring the highest quality products to market.  In order to achieve this goal Vapor Systems redesigned their test equipment, implementing a Unitronics Vision350 PLC+HMI to control the tester.  This Unitronics PLC is reliable, efficient and easy to use, enabling Vapor Systems Technologies to achieve their previously unattainable goal.

Vapor Systems Technologies, Inc. of Springboro, OH has manufactured gas pump hoses, breakaways, whip hoses, gas nozzles, and other hanging hardware for gas dispensers since 1989. In addition to their wealth of experience providing superior products, Vapor Systems wanted to be able to provide rigorous product testing to ensure impeccable quality.  Their dream goal was to run their nozzles through 1,000,000 test cycles, the equivalent of about 17 years of normal operation in the field.  Unfortunately, their inefficient test equipment made that goal impossible.

Not only could their tester only test one nozzle at a time, it was also prone to break downs. Patrick Elam of Vapor Systems Technologies explains the problems they were having, saying “[the tester] was extremely slow, and very unreliable.  We would only run it during business hours for fear of breaking down and other damages.” Vapor Systems Technologies wanted to design new test equipment that was reliable, efficient and easy to use.  They also wanted the new tester to be smaller and less bulky than the old tester, both to save space and to make it possible to bring the tester to petroleum shows if needed.

“The amount of money we saved from R&D time and not having to replace burned up components regularly, more than made up the cost of purchasing the V350-35-TR20 … Simple to program, reliable, and very affordable; what more could you want?” – Patrick Elam, Vapor Systems Technologies

Vapor Systems Technologies wanted to redesign their tester with a new control platform that could provide increased reliability; they decided that the Unitronics Vision350 PLC+HMI was a perfect fit for this task. Specifically they settled on the V350-35-TR20 model, which offered 20 points of onboard I/O in addition to an integrated 3.5-inch color touch HMI panel. This all-in-one design makes the Vision350 a compact choice and helped reduce both the space and the wiring required for the control system.

Another benefit of the Vision350 PLC is that it runs on 24V DC power.  Patrick Elam explains the advantage, saying “our old tester required 120VAC to operate, and wasn’t reliable.  It would burn up relays, sensors and blow fuses regularly. We were always afraid to let it run past business hours because if it failed under load, it could burn up a pump.” Not only was the Vision350 from Unitronics more reliable than Vapor Systems’ old control, if it ever did fail it would be less likely to cause damage.  In fact, once the programing was complete, Vapor Systems Technologies ran their tester for over two months straight, with zero failures and zero damage to any of the electronic components. Within three months of using the redesigned tester controlled by the Unitronics PLC, they were able to hit the 1,000,000 cycle mark.

“Unitronics proved to be a time saver,” Elam says, noting that Vapor Systems feels confident they could run the new tester 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year if they needed to. Additionally, by hitting their 1,000,000 cycle target, Vapor Systems was able to exceed their qualifying test and thus bring their product to market faster.  Patrick Elam adds, “The amount of money we saved from R&D time and not having to replace burned up components regularly, more than made up the cost of purchasing the V350-35-TR20 … Simple to program, reliable, and very affordable; what more could you want?”

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