An Instron geotextile customer was conducting materials testing nearly around the clock. They were not able to keep up with demand and were building another plant to respond to the market. The company had a positive experience with their current Instron testing system and wanted to invest in another for the new plant, but with shorter test intervals.
Where it seemed like investing in fully automated testing systems might have made sense, they consulted with Instron to find the best solution. In partnership, Instron and the customer analyzed local labor costs as well as space requirements. A thoughtful review concluded fully automating was not the best solution. Where the geotextile company wanted to increase the manual testing speed of their permeable fabrics, they also wanted to ensure that safety would not be sacrificed. To address both concerns, Instron’s custom solutions engineers proposed a twofold approach: specialized hydraulic grip control along with an infrared light safety curtain.
Instron implemented the automatic gripping (opening and closing) functionality from its pneumatic air kit to its hydraulic pump in order to control the customer-supplied grips. By enabling this capability to open grips and return to gauge length simultaneously, the new process removed 25% of the steps required by the operator. To enhance safety while permitting the testing speed to increase, Instron added an infrared light curtain interlock to protect the operators from dangerous pinching and crush hazards. The infrared light curtain interlock circuit provided the ability to stop the system and pump instantly as well as signal the system to start a test once the operator was out of the test space.
This specialized solution protected the company’s operators, minimized the number of steps between testing specimens, and reduced overall cycle time. By partnering with Instron, the company was able to determine what solution was most appropriate for their needs.