The latest UK manufacturing statistics suggest that the foundations for a successful 2014 are underway with manufacturing output rising by 1.1 per cent, following an initial increase of 0.7 per cent in February. Guest post by Graham Earl, Exhibition Manager, Reed Exhibitions The figures, released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), revealed that UK production
Scott Heins, director of sales and marketing at ALPS: ‘We ran into an obsolescence issue on the previous control system that we used for what we call our ‘linear machines’: single station leak testers. We had to decide on a new controls platform very quickly.’ Omron met all the requirements. ‘We chose an Omron PLC to control the entire leak test and the machine’s operation. With the prior design, we had used proprietary circuit boards, an embedded system. We were expecting developments to be quicker and more efficient with a PLC platform, as far as evolving the control system,” says Heins. ‘This proved to be the case.’
As part of the new design, ALPS completely revamped the user interface to an icon-based menu structure in the Omron NS5 HMI. The new screens were in color; the old ones were black and white. ‘These changes were well-received by our customers,’ says Heins. “The market saw the new design as a real advance.’
Before the prototype was even finished, ALPS sold over 40 of the redesigned machines. Using a new embedded board design would have slowed their ability to meet this volume. ‘Very few PLCs in the reasonable cost realm are as fast as the Omron CP1H,’ says Heins. ‘Usually you would have to go to a much more expensive PLC to get this kind of processing power. This is a fairly recent advancement, and it is only this kind of product line that empowered us to use a PLC for this leak testing operation.’
‘This has been a really good platform for us to grow our sales on this type of machine,” says Heins. “There is strong acceptance in the marketplace for using a PLC for this function, and there is also very good acceptance of the Omron brand name.”
According to Heins, ALPS was impressed with how Omron and its distributor (Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Braas Company) quickly understood their needs and provided a solution that made sense—at a price point they found fair and in a timeframe that allowed them to go to market quickly.