Production tester ensures meter compliance


Peterborough, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — May 2, 2007 – Ampy Metering, a manufacturer of electricity metering products, has installed new product compliance test technology as part of the modernization and upgrading of production facilities at its Peterborough plant. Ampy manufactures a range of power meters for both residential and commercial/industrial customers, including prepayment and smart meters.

As part of an investment program in new processes at its U.K. plant, Ampy has installed a new automated test system developed by Clare Instruments that combines enhanced production line throughput with demanding international standards compliance and quality control requirements. The new streamlined process links product function and calibration testing with a new integrated test cell developed around Clare’s advanced Hal production line test system.

In the new test set-up, combined function, calibration and soak testing of newly assembled product is carried out on separate batches of power meters at the same time. After this initial check, the meters are loaded onto a conveyor that uses optical product recognition to correctly align the enclosures before they enter the Hal test cell.

The test cell comprises a Hal test unit that is specifically designed to meet compliance testing and data traceability demands associated with modern quality assurance and safety standards. The unit is capable of carrying out AC or DC flash testing with programmable options for test voltages, ramping times, leakage limits and other parameters, allowing complex test sequences to be generated safely and effectively.

In the new Ampy installation, image recognition sensors and actuators identify and detect the meters as they enter the test cell. Once detected, the actuators locate the test pins onto the meter and the Hal then automatically sequences through the appropriate flash/hipot and earth/ground bond tests for the particular product. The whole test sequence is PLC controlled.

Preconfigured test sequences are stored in the Hal in keeping with the various international compliance specifications and standards required for the worldwide distribution of different Ampy products. Electrical safety testing is completed in around 7 or 8 seconds per item, with failed products automatically directed off the production line at this point.

Approved products are allowed to move on to the next part of the process for laser serial marking and automatic bonding of the two parts of the meter enclosure with special glue.
In this way all Ampy products are 100% tested and test data is continually recorded on the company’s management information system.