Working in conjunction with AI Pumps, APC Technology re-designed their outdated control panels to drive down production costs whilst maintaining productivity and durability of the units.
The Business Challenge
Mark Kirtland, Managing Director of AI Pumps established the company in 1994 and has a total of 42 years of pump experience. During this time, the number of suppliers and components both domestic & international has risen and the cost of a total system has become very price-competitive. AI Pumps are continuously evaluating ways to improve margins whilst maintaining and improving the quality and reliability of their systems.
The control panel is the brain of the AI Pumps “Endurance” Fire Pump System, providing critical control and information to the user. In the early days the panels were purchased through a local supplier in Adelaide who manufactured a highly reliable product but struggled with delivery issues. The decision was made to find a larger commercial supplier, however the solution proved unreliable. AI Pumps then made the decision in 2005 to hire an electrical engineer to design and manufacture their own control panel based on their in-house design and continued this model until 2019.
The result was highly successful, however fourteen years later the design has not kept pace with current technology, nor the growing challenge of maintaining a reliable source of critical components. Additionally AI Pumps faced the challenge of requiring specialist staff to review the design and assemble the control panels. AI Pumps started to explore the option of finding a partner who were able to manufacture the control panel at a competitive rate whilst also guaranteeing and even improving quality, performance and a sustainability plan.
Why APC Technology?
AI Pump’s Managing Director Mark Kirtland commented, “APC Technology was recommended to me whilst I was working on a different project. They encouraged an on-site visit enabling them to demonstrate their capabilities and services in real time. I realised there were additional synergies across other parts of our business, notably the design and manufacture of our control panels for our large fire pump systems.”
“Their background as a military grade manufacturer also provides assurance on the build quality and their in-house engineering team provided fresh eyes which has led to the second phase of the project.”
“Also the fact that APC Technology is an Australian company is extremely valuable to us. Being able to access product locally rather than overseas reduces delivery timelines, improves lines of communication and eliminates the issue of fluctuating currency rates.”
The APC ‘Value-Add’
The initial project required APC to manufacture control panels based on a build to our original design / specification. The APC engineering team reviewed the solution and identified components that were obsolete or required an upgrade plan to ensure sustainability of the system. These included the PLC, battery chargers and the beacon. They assisted with sourcing and integrating the new components.
During this process the engineering team recommended a redesign of the current control panel. The aim would be to integrate new technologies including the development of printed circuit boards that could manage multiple tasks presently being performed by a costly PLC. This would result in a down-scale of components reducing the overall cost of producing the unit.
Mark commented on their experience. “Once we started working with APC we found the engineering team highly knowledgeable. They went above and beyond the initial project outcomes and through their experience and expertise they shared their ideas on how we could improve the design and reduce build costs. This next step is under way, whilst their manufacturing team continue to build the current revised specification. Our expectation is to have the next generation unit in the coming months.”
Mark commented on the expected long term relationship between the two companies. “We see APC providing key electrical engineering services and manufacturing across other control panel models. Finding reliable suppliers is critical to a successful business and APC offer capabilities and services in one location that are highly sought after by companies manufacturing industrial equipment.”
The AI Pumps control panel key features include:-
- PLC custom solution
- Full colour “Gauge” style, single glance, display of critical data
- Custom made LED displays for secondary status information
- Diesel engine and Electric motor control options
- 12V or 24V options
- Fabrication of steel bases and pipework completed in-house to customer specifications
- Certified to AS2941 (2013) and US NFPA 20 standard.
- Easy Operation & Integration
About Australian Industrial Pump Systems
Australian Industrial Pump Systems (AI Pumps) has more than 25 years of proven experience in fire pump and general pump engineering. The Adelaide based company offers a range of pumping solutions from their own off the shelf design to bespoke fire pump systems which meets the needs of Australian Standards Code AS2941 (2013) and the US NFPA 20 standard.