American BOA Implements PLC-Controlled Testing System Utilizing the Ethernet and DataWorx PLC
DHAS Automation, a systems integration company in Alpharetta, Ga., was recently faced with the challenge of developing an automated system for pressure and hydrostatic testing of metal hoses at American BOA, located in Cumming, Ga. American BOA specializes in the design, development, and manufacturing of high quality flexible metal hose products.
The company had always tested their products manually for pressure integrity, but the testing had become time-consuming and it was difficult to keep track of testing data in the manual system. One at a time, each hose had to be hooked up to a compressed air tank and gauge to test the proper hose pressure specification. The manual system had the potential to be very dangerous when water or air pressure became high.
DHAS Automation was asked to develop an automatic system that would allow hydrostatic and air tests to be conducted on hoses of varying diameters and lengths for pressures up to 3,000 psi. The goal was to speed up the process, develop an accurate means of testing, make the process safe, and enable the system to record historical data so that if a hose failed in the future, the company would be able to go back and examine test data relating to the specific hose.
DHAS developed a PLC-controlled testing system using a D2-250 CPU, Ethernet communication module and 10” EZTouch operator interface screen from AutomationDirect, combined with DataWorx PLC, a software package to collect and store the testing data. DataWorx PLC was developed by INTEWORX.NET. INTEWORX.NET, located in Cumming, Ga., is a software and application service provider that specializes in data collection.
The system is operator-controlled from a simple interface on the EZTouch panel. From the panel, an operator sets up the system for testing based on the size of the hose. Setup parameters include the test type (air pressure or water pressure), the product’s part number, the length and diameter of the hose, the length of time the test will be conducted, and the test pressure. Depending on the size of the hose, up to four hoses can be connected and tested at one time. Hoses range in size from ¼ inch to 12 inches in diameter. The system automatically fills each hose to the required amount of air or water to conduct the test. Water for hydro testing is pulled from a reservoir on the system and is recycled for each test.
Upon completion of the test, the PLC sends the test results to an Access database through DataWorx PLC. This method is a report-by-exception function that gives the PLC complete control to write to a text file or database through a server-based application. The PLC utilizes an Ethernet link and will receive a message confirming that data was stored in the database. In the event that the confirmation message is not received, the PLC can store the test results locally until the network link can be re-established. Once the data is stored in a database, it is then available to the plant personnel over the company intranet. By utilizing DataWorx PLC, the system has higher data integrity over continuous polling methods of traditional SCADA software.
The system also contains an ASCII printer connected directly to the serial port of the D2-250 PLC CPU so that data can be printed immediately after each test. DHAS has also considered the possibility of adding a bar code reader to the system so that bar codes on the hoses can be scanned to trigger the instant setup of all necessary system configurations for testing each specific hose.
The system has been coined the “Minute Man IV Pressure Test System” as it was able to tackle once-cumbersome manual testing in a matter of minutes. With the implementation of this system, American BOA now has a quick, reliable means of testing their hoses and a way to easily record data for analysis. Both American BOA and DHAS Automation view the integration of the system as a success.
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