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In order to improve the throughput of leak testing machines for PET bottles, Air Logic Power Systems (ALPS) replaced custom-made PC-boards with an Omron CP1H PLC system. This allowed the company to quickly meet strong demand for smaller and more competitively priced leak testing machines.
Air Logic Power Systems (ALPS) is a leading manufacturer of machines for testing leaks in bottles, pots and other packaging. In the US, ALPS supplies its machines to, for example, the top ten manufacturers of PET bottles. These companies can use ALPS machines to check whether leaks are present in the bottles they have blown.
Due to the current economic climate, one ALPS product is attracting a considerable amount of extra attention: the favourably-priced linear, single station leak tester. “Unfortunately, the controls platform of this testing device was outdated”, states Scott Heins, sales and marketing director at ALPS. A new platform had to be selected very quickly, because the market was ready for exploitation: even before there was a prototype, ALPS had forty orders for the machine in its portfolio.
In the current configuration, ALPS used an integrated, custom-made system. Developing a new one would take too much time, whereby the company may have missed out on available opportunities. That is why a decision was made to switch to a PLC. Heins: “We hoped that a PLC platform would allow us to develop a new controls system faster and more efficiently. And that’s what happened.”
The user interface was also part of the new design. Instead of black and white monitors, colour monitors with an Omron NS5 HMI icon-based menu structure are now being used. “The market regards this as a major advantage”, states Heins.
“ALPS technicians were genuinely surprised about the performance of the Omron PLC”, says Eric Updike, account manager at Omron Industrial Automation. “Bottles are now checked at high speed. The machine updates the analogue testing input from the transducer every millisecond. Besides the Omron CP1H, no other ready-to-use PLC with built-in analogue I/O is fast enough to do this.”