Autoclave Upgrade via Bespoke Technical Solution

autoclave.Premier has recently completed a fully bespoke Autoclave control and hardware upgrade for Formaplex whom are a leading manufacturing group specialising in tooling & lightweight components for F1, motorsport, automotive, defence and aerospace sectors. Formaplex work in a range of high pressure, time dependent industries where margins for error are not acceptable.

Formaplex commented “This upgrade was vital for Formaplex to secure future work with our Aerospace clients where traceability and reliability are of the utmost importance. Premier were able to accelerate their process and finish the installation ahead of time, minimising production downtime. Looking to the future, utilising CureManager software we now have remote support whereby an engineer can log on to our system within minutes to diagnose, in many cases, without the need for a site visit.” Tom Gallier, Factory Manager

Reason for works: Improve controls to enhance process traceability specifically required for aerospace work and increase autoclave capacity (without vessel modification). The upgrade also gives consistency across composite production within Formaplex running on bespoke CureManager software.

Description of works:

  • Upgrade front end controls to Premier’s specifically designed CureManager software
  • Bespoke thermocouple transitions specially manufactured (due to limited ports within the autoclave) to allow 40no product thermocouples (increased from 4no) and 20no Thermal Uniformity Survey thermocouples (increased from zero)
  • Increase vacuum from 12no manual pull lines to 20no automated pull and 20no automated monitor lines with bespoke vacuum transitions (due to limited ports within autoclave)
  • Safety system upgrade to comply with PM73 HSE guidelines
  • Bag-burst protection system installed to ensure that in event of a bag burst, other bags will automatically isolate and no other parts will be lost
  • Bespoke software elements added specific to Formaplex production requirements

Benefit to customer:

  • Rapid turnaround from receipt of order: Most works undertaken by Premier offsite within 4 weeks of order due to customer requirement
  • Minimised customer disruption: On site install within 9 working days (including training and commissioning)
  • Improved automation and aerospace-standard traceability: Increased capacity for aerospace specification production, due to 24/7 comprehensive traceability of Premier’s CureManager software
  • Maximised capacity: Specially designed vacuum and thermocouple transitions have increased throughput and efficiency dramatically
  • Confidence in using autoclave controls that are tried and tested within Formaplex and across the aerospace and automotive market

Premier Managing Director, Samuel Clayton commented “It is always great to be able to demonstrate our capabilities when improving systems in a bespoke way. The team deserve a great deal of credit for being able to provide specially manufactured thermocouple & vacuum transitions delivering 40 product and 20 TUS thermocouples and increased vacuum capability despite minimal vessel stabbings. We look forward to hearing how the system benefits Formaplex and their customers.”

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