Armstrong needed an accurate and robust piezoelectric sensor that exceeded the performance of what was available on the market for their new steam trap analysis tool.
Piezo.com’s leading expert, Rob Carter, worked closely with Armstrong on the development of a novel sensor in a replacement steam trap testing tool that built on Armstrong’s prior work adding in analytical design techniques and robust piezo sensor manufacturing experience.
Steve Rody, a New Product Development Project Manager at Armstrong International, and his design engineering group were given a task: develop a highly accurate and dependable replacement steam trap testing tool. The device needed to be an improved version of what they were currently using and needed to have enhanced features with the latest technology that would work with SAGE, their steam trap analysis software. The finished product would be easy to use on site to decrease energy costs and optimize system performance for their customers by quickly and easily identifying failed steam traps.
As Rody and his colleagues began their research, they realized that the existing commercial technology wasn’t adequate for what they had in mind for their new device, particularly the ultrasonic sensor. Though Armstrong’s products use similar types of sensors, they do not design or manufacture them. They needed to source an expert in the field to help design and develop a novel ultrasonic sensor for their product.
After one company was unable to meet the specifications the new device required, Armstrong contacted Piezo.com’s leading expert, Rob Carter, for assistance in designing and developing an accurate, manufacturable piezoelectric acoustic sensor for their steam trap analysis tool. After consultation, Carter was able to customize a development path that built on Armstrong’s prior work adding in analytical design techniques and piezo sensor manufacturing experience.
Throughout the development process, Carter provided experience-based suggestions on modifying Armstrong’s prototypes that focused on manufacturability and measurement repeatability. Additionally, Carter offered recommendations to apply to sensor trials from his and his team’s extensive body of piezoelectric knowledge.
With guidance from Carter, the Armstrong team persisted in completing numerous prototype iterations that included everything from improved Q/A measuring techniques, material choices, and seemingly small dimensional variations to ensure the absolute highest quality of the improved product. The result were sensors that were robust, thermally-stable, accurate, and repeatable over time.
The results speak for themselves: Armstrong has exceeded first year sales expectations by 250% and they expect to see even more sales as the product is introduced to their international markets. According to Rody, “It’s been a success as far as adoption by end users and it’s generated a lot of market buzz for us.”
Armstrong’s steam trap analysis tool customers can expect to see a decrease in both labor and energy costs. One of the main features of the tool is that end users can be trained to use and read the device quickly. This compiled with Piezo.com’s sensor’s high level of accuracy and repeatability reduces the labor costs associated with hiring outside parties to identify failed and failing steam traps.
Further, because of the accuracy and dependability of the steam trap analysis tool, customers can cut energy costs and usage immediately by replacing failed steam traps, thus creating long-term customers via an enjoyable experience.
“The sensor accomplishes its task very well, it operates over a wide range, and it is reliable,” Rody said. “That’s what we were looking for.”
Founded in 1900, Armstrong International is a privately held, fifth-generation, family-owned company. Our unique heritage of knowledge, experience and insight reaches back more than a century, enabling us to serve you in ways no one else can. Often the first to market, Armstrong invented the inverted bucket steam trap and our company has been granted more than 70 patents on exceptional products, technology and software.
Armstrong International is a leading, multinational energy management company serving a vast range of industries from all over the word. Armstrong International aims to deliver intelligent system solutions that improve utility performance, lower energy consumption, and reduce environmental emissions while providing an enjoyable experience.