Pentwyn Splicers Ltd. designs manufactures and markets a range of
products known as yarn splicers. Splicers are specialist products used
throughout the textile trade to join yarns together in a manner which
is superior to that of the traditional knot.
Splicers use compressed air, at pressures of around 7 bar, to intermingle
the fibres of textile yarns. Approximately 60% of splicers are hand
held equipment carried by the operator from machine to machine where
they are plugged into a compressed air line to operate, although there
are some machine mounted versions.
Due to the delicate nature of yarn fibres, exposure to the air blast
must be controlled carefully. To ensure reliable splicing it is crucial
to control one key parameter; the duration of the air blast.
Pentwyn Splicers Ltd. does offer blast timers, but their design and
operation has never been particularly satisfactory. They have a relatively
simple mechanical function that involves the use of bleeding air through
a flow control valve. The units are difficult to calibrate and are subject
to variable performance. In short, the are unreliable.
The application experiment involved the development of an electronic
control unit incorporating microcontroller device technology to improve
the control of the splicing operation. The microelectronic development
will enable the following plans to exploit the technology to be delivered:
- The design and manufacture of an electronic timer for application
to specific splicers.
- The enhancement of the electronic device to provide control and
monitoring of parameters other than blast duration.
- The application of subtle control functions established through
the use of microprocessors to develop fundamentally novel forms of
splicer in the future.
Success in the project will enhance the company's competitive position
and will result in completely new products. The improved performance
will also allow larger and higher value niche sectors in the textile
industry to be targeted.
The electronic controller was designed and completed successfully
within six months from the start date of the 1 August, 1997. The cost
of the electronic controller development was approximately 27,000 EUR.
The anticipated payback for this investment will be less than 18 months
from product launch, and the improved product will produce a ROI (return
on investment) of above 240% over its four year product life.
The lessons learned by the company in integrating electronic and electro-mechanical
systems in a small space constraint information will be of use to a
wide range of organisations supplying mechanical design products in
general. The lessons learned will enable companies to replace mechanical
sub-systems used for control and regulation in their products by the
use of electronic control modules. The company's experiences will be
of special interest to companies in the textile and clothing industries.