The UK aerospace industry is the second biggest in the world, with sales in the sector of £31.1billion last year. The aerospace industry is widely seen as the instigator of technology change in engineering disciplines. Within the bounds of manufacturing, the aerospace industry is the important testbed for developments in automation, assembly and inspection. The developments in the engineering of aerospace components often have implications for many other engineering sectors. Coltraco Ultrasonics received a request from an aerospace component manufacturer for an engineering solution for their manufacturing process.
A manufacturer of high end components for Aerospace and other high end engineering based in Wolverhampton, approached Coltraco for assistance with its monitoring of ammonia. The facilities manager met with Coltraco at a show in Birmingham, weeks prior. The facility runs 24/7, 265 days a year and is the size of around 2-3 football pitches. The facility is concerned mainly in manufacturing high end actuators that are installed on a range of civil and defence systems. Actuators are integral parts of modern engineering and their production is essential. The customer uses ammonia in a nitrating process in which ammonia is applied to heated metal, infusing the metal with the Nitrogen. This can have beneficial outcomes such as making the metal infuse with Nitrogen to make it harder, tougher and with higher melting temperatures. The factory asked Coltraco for a solution with its monitoring of the contents within the ammonia cylinders. This is specifically significant because if improperly managed, ammonia may threaten the safety of workers. To check that the ammonia cylinders had enough contents for a run, the manufacturer had been manually weighing the cylinders. However, manually weighing cylinders if inefficient, time consuming and risks damaging the system and injuring the personnel conducting the laborious test. This method also has been shown to incur waste which was costly to the manufacturer.
Coltraco presented an innovative non-invasive, accurate method that is quicker, much easier for the operator to test and thus, saves money. After a formal assessment by a Coltraco Engineer, the Portalevel® MAX Industrial was found effective in accurately and quickly identifying the liquid level within the ammonia cylinders. Portalevel® MAX Industrial allowed for more efficient operations and reduced waste by ensuring partially empty cylinders were not returned to the gas supplier. Coltraco offer comprehensive customer service and therefore designed an in-house testing and recording process that was compatible with the manufacturers current monitoring processes.
The trial and implementation stimulated interested in developing an Ammonia Portasteele® Calculator program to allow accurate conversion of the liquid level to agent mass/weight. The Portasteele® Calculator is an advanced calculator application, that currently converts the liquid level height of C02, NOVEC™ 1230 and FM-200® liquefied gaseous extinguishant agent readings taken on an ultrasonic non-destructive liquid level indicator device into the agent weight/mass. The Portasteele® Calculator offers unparalleled efficiency, ease of maintenance and simple training. This advanced technology is supplied on a stand-alone rugged hand-held 7” touch screen tablet which makes these advanced calculations in real time. Data is stored on the Calculator so the crew or service technician are able to easily send servicing reports back to the shore based managers or directly to customers, without having to manually upload the results onto a computer. Furthermore, the Portasteele® can convert an expected substance weight back to the required liquid level allowing users to anticipate where the level should be. The adaptability of Coltraco’s technology allows programs to suit the requirements of their customers purpose.