Oxfordshire-based Chiltern Connections is a provider of conformal coating machines and associated solutions for a wide range of industrial customers. Applications for its coating machines are generally highly specialised. For example, they are used to coat PCBs (printed circuit boards) as a means of preventing corrosion or protecting these important components from various environmental challenges and thereby helping to extend their working life. The services it offers include: sub-contracting, providing a range of coating materials, machinery for production lines, training and consultancy. Viscosity control is an essential part of the coating process and as a leading supplier of specialist analytical instrumentation and equipment, including Brookfield Ametek Viscometers, Fullbrook Systems has made an important contribution in helping Chiltern Connections to improve the reliability of their coating machines.
Viscosity control is an essential part of the coating process. For example, measuring viscosity consistently and reliably to a resolution of 1cP is an example of the quality-control standards required by the end-user and underlines the importance of the role of the viscometer to the overall performance of the coating machines. Reliability had been an issue with the original in-house design of viscometer previously used in Chiltern Connections coating machines. As a result, the decision was taken to source a commercially available viscometer, preferably with as few moving parts as possible so the objective of improving reliability and reducing unscheduled service call-outs, could be achieved.
As a result of discussions with various suppliers, Chiltern Connections selected Fullbrook Systems as it offered a more cost-effective solution with the Brookfield Ametek AST 100 Viscometer, combined with a fast and positive response to their requirements.
Following trials to establish the suitability of the AST 100 viscometer for its coating machines, Chiltern Connections placed an immediate order for a Brookfield AST 100, followed by an order for another two in 2015. The AST 100 provides direct, in-line viscosity measurement in a range of 2-12500 (cP or equivalent cup-seconds) and with a repeatability of ± 1 per cent of the reading. Among the key features of the AST 100 appreciated by Chiltern Connections are: a rugged 316 stainless steel construction, no moving parts to wear, bind or contact with process materials, hence its high reliability and ease of maintenance. It is also easy to install and can be cleaned-in-place.
Bob Speirs, engineering manager at Chiltern Connections said: “The biggest benefit has been reliability. Apart from one unit with a small electronics issue which Fullbrook Systems replaced quickly once we had described the fault, there have been no failures in service. As reliability had been our primary concern we are delighted with the performance. We especially like the easy mechanical and electrical interfacing into our systems and the integrated temperature probe.”
October 2016 Fullbrook Systems Ltd move to new premises in Hemel Hempstead. After being in the same offices for many years the company moved to more suitable premises