16 May Fire sprinkler certification equipment
Sophisticated “first-of-its-kind” laboratory test equipment used to certify automatic fire sprinkler systems around the world is being produced in Australia and is sought after by manufacturers across the globe.
Before a sprinkler asset protection system can be sold it must comply with the ISO6182 performance standard.
The mechanism for achieving accreditation is via a scientific exercise known as the “plunge test” which determines a Response Time Index (RTI), i.e. how quickly the sprinkler system responds to changes in ambient temperature and is activated.
In order to ensure that their systems pass the test, manufacturers have begun installing plunge test tunnels and the only place where these are available is from Archer, a third generation designer and precision manufacturer of complex “fail-safe” components and assemblies located in Australia.
“The RTI plunge test tunnel is a highly specialised application-specific piece of world standard apparatus”, said Operations Director Russell Byrne, “The uniquely shaped tunnel has both heating and plunge chambers and can measure pressure differences of less than 1 pascal.”
Before Archer’s revolutionary tunnel was developed companies would build large test tunnels which were permanent fixtures of buildings. Then along came the Archer design which can be mounted on a table or work bench. With dimensions of just 2200 x 1000 x 1600mm it is easily transportable and this has become the product-of-choice around the world. This is why Archer directors Brad and Russell Byrne were requested to go to Japan to install a tunnel at the Japan Fire Equipment Inspection Institute.
The tunnel, the 19th made by Archer, was built for the Yamato Scientific Company which supplied it on to the JFEII – a research and approval authority. The JFEII was established in 1963 as a public organisation to conduct inspections of fire equipment across the Japanese mainland. It is housed in the Research Institute of Fire and Disaster which is where the nation’s fire fighters are trained.
The tunnel features stainless steel duct work with ceramic insulation and an exterior cladding of spray painted zinc anneal. Archer manufactured the oven and plunge tunnels, heating plenum, fan impeller and all other parts (excluding the electric motor and heater element) on their Okuma multi-axis machine centres. They integrated the electronics which included a programmable process controller, fan, variable speed drive, motor, pressure switches and heat detectors. It took just over three months to build. The completed tunnel underwent stringent testing at Archer’s Manufacture Centre of Excellence before being shipped to Japan.
Russell emphasises that being hands-on right to the end of a project is a ‘signature’ of Archer methodology.