Product

Parseq - software for end-of-line testing

Since the first years of its activity in the sector of the testing machines, Microplan invested in the development of a special software language that its programmers could use to produce test procedures quickly and easily.

This happened for the first time in 1998, with the language called TestSeq. In the time, many customers of Microplan decided to learn how to use TestSeq in order to become independent in modifying or creating test sequences on their test benches. For more than 15 years TestSeq enabled our customers to modify their tests without involving us.

Today, a new language has been produced by Microplan, with more enhanced features, called ParSeq. The name itself reminds that one of the most significant features of this new package is to allow creating parallel tests.

In the following, only few features of ParSeq are described. It is impossible, on the other way, to resume in this space the features of a software package that requested more than 2 years of development by engineers extremely skilled in the testing of HVAC appliances. For more details, please contact Microplan.

An example of the operator’s interface of the test procedures created with ParSeq can be seen in the following picture.

The measured quantities are shown in the upper section of the screen, with the shape of watch dials, where the acceptable ranges involved in checks are green/red coloured.

In the lower section, the space is for instructions to the operator, that can include not only text, but also pictures or movies. The messages can be written in the language of the customer, including  Farsi or Chinese.

The below picture shows an alternative way to use part of that space. The right side is dedicated to the monitoring of a direct communication between the bench and the boiler’s control card. A protocol communication is established, allowing the bench to set the boiler in desired conditons or to obtain measured values or status information from the boiler under test.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the previous TestSeq package, ParSeq is a language used by Microplan to build the test procedures of its benches, but that also customers can use, if they want to modify or write their own tests. In the above pictures the point of view of the operator was considered, so the screenshots were taken during the execution of a test procedure; in the following, the point of view of the user who builds test procedures with ParSeq is considered.

  •  Powerful and easy at the same time

Despite its powerful features, it is much more easy to use than a typical programming language: it is specialized to build test procedures and it is made for people with no programming skills. The user doesn’t write instructions, but he simply fills forms or chooses options from lists.

  • Information to the operator during tests

An important function of a test procedure on an automatic bench is to guide and inform the operator. ParSeq allows to wite in the procedure messages to the operator that can be written by the customer in his own language (provided that Windows is suitably set), not only including languages with western characters, but also others, like Farsi or Chinese.
The messages can include not only text, but also pictures, or even movies: this largely increases the power of communication with the operator. 

The messages are usually shown in a dedicated area, as it can be seen in the first two pictures of this chapter, but, besides them, the user can set pop-up messages, that are windows that he can make appear in any position on the screen and with any dimension. Again, the pop-up windows can include text, pictures or movies, as it is the case in the picture below. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Building a test by filling forms
    The user can build a test defining valves to move, regulations to set up, quantities to measure, acceptable limits, delays, messages to the operator and whatever is needed, simply filling predefined forms or choosing options from menus. No programming instructions need to be written.
    The following pictures shows how ParSeq makes easy to choose the valves to open or close at a certain step of the procedure: the user select the circuit first, so that only the valves of that circuit are listed. Then he selects valves from the list the valves and presses a button to set them ON or OFF.

  • Building sub-sequences

Filling forms like the one in the above picture, the customer can define the actions of every step of his procedure.
Then he can list the tests, built in this way, in a sequence, in any order he needs (the list of sequential tests is called sub-sequence in ParSeq). With simple drag and drop or copy-paste operations, he can easily move one test in any position in the sub-sequence.

The sub-sequences are the elementary units of the test procedures. A test procedure could be formed by a single sub-sequence, or by many sub-sequences one after the other, or even by sub-sequences put in parallel, as it will be explained in the following paragraph, or by combinations of these situations.

  • Parallel execution
    Different sub-sequences, defined as before said, can be put in parallel, so that they are executed at the same time.

Every subsequence is still written and defined as if it was run alone, but once ParSeq runs them, it automatically takes care of their parallel execution and of the consequent problems.
In this way, the user writes the sub-sequences one by one and he doesn’t need to worry about the implications of a parallel execution.
For example, he doesn’t need to worry about  the management of situations where, for example, one or more parallel sub-sequences fail, while others parallel sub-sequences end successfully.
In situations like these, questions arise, like the following: - should the whole procedure be aborted, or should the operator be allowed to try to repeat the faulty tests? - should all the tests be repeatable or not? – when a test is repeated, can it be repeated alone, or some other tests before it should be repeated in order to reproduce the same conditions? - in general, what is, case by case, the right restart point in case of repeated tests?

This level of problems only arise when tests are performed in parallel, so they were unknown to our TestSeq package, as they are unknown to the software packages of companies that propose themselves as competitors of Microplan. A deep study, and all the experience of Microplan were needed to make ParSeq able to manage such situations.
It is easy to understand how powerful can be the parallelism feature of ParSeq in obtaining shorter testing times and in increasing the productivity of the assembly line.

  • Conditional paths in the test procedure

The traditional way to create the association between a certain model of boiler and its testing procedure was to create a specific testing procedure for every model, with a 1:1 match. Once the barcode of a certain model was read by the bench, the corresponding test procedure was loaded; with a different barcode, a different procedure was loaded, and so on. 
This method works, but it produces an unwanted side effect when the number of models increases.
In fact, it often happens that two models, with different barcode, are of the same family, so that they are different only for a detail, like for example the presence of buttons or potentiometers on the front panel of the boiler. In this case, the only difference in their test procedure could be in a message to the operator where he is requested to rotate a potentiometer in one case and to push some buttons in the other case. For all the other aspects, one test procedure would be a duplicate of the other.

This could happen many times, for every detail that could make models of the same family silghtly different. After some years, one manufacturer could find to have dozens of test procedures, with very small differences one from the other.
If, one day, one parameter, like for example the pressure limits for the gas valve adjustment, should be changed for all the models in a family, all the procedures of models of that family should be modified, one by one. The maintenance of many test procedures can therefore become a heavy work.
ParSeq has solved this problem allowing to write test procedure where different paths are followed inside it, according to some features of the models (like the type of HMI in the above example) or conditions that could happen during the execution itself, in real time.
Taking again the above example, in ParSeq the codes of two different boilers would load the same test procedure, but, in some points of it, one code would follow a way where a certain message is shown to the operator, while the other code produces a different message. The test procedure would remain unique, so that, if some parameter should be changed, it could be changed only once.
In practical experiences of our customers, the number of different test procedures from previous situations to ParSeq decreased of a 1:10 ratio.  

  • Parameters of the model and parameters of the family

The testing procedure of a certain model of appliance includes many parameters, like for example the limits for measured quantities to be checked, the setpoint of automatic regulations, delays, timeouts etc. 

Some of these parameters are specific of the model, but others are the same of other models. For example, the time needed to fill the boiler could be typical of that model and different from others because of its internal structure, but the minimum flow rate of the DHW to switch on the flame could be the same of all the other models that mount the same flow switch.
The traditional approach, which also was the one of our previous TestSeq package, was that every model had its own set of parameters. As a consequence, if a certain parameter needs to be changed for many models, it has to be changed in every set of those models.
In the previous example, if one day a new flow switch would be mounted on all the models, the parameter of the minimum flow rate to switch on should be modified in all the parameters set.
ParSeq has a more efficient approach.

The user can decide if a certain parameter is specific of the single model, which is the object of the test procedure, or if it is the same for a group of models. In the first case the parameter is locally saved and is part of the procedure of that specific model, while in the second case it is saved in a database where it is accessible from the procedures of other models.
If a “local” parameter is changed, it only affects the model to which the procedure refers. If a “group” parameter is changed, it affects all the models of the group that use that parameter.
This makes extremely efficient the modification of parameters in ParSeq when many different models are produced.

  • Advanced functions of calculation

At a first glance, it could seem that the only need, during a test procedure, about the check of measured quantities could be to compare each of them with respective acceptable limits and to obtain a “good” or “fail” result from the comparison.

Few examples can show that this is a limited point of view.

Case 1: the bench needs to check when the DHW temperature difference (outlet-inlet) reaches a minimum limit.
In this case the quantity to check against limits is not a measured quantity, but a combination of two of them: the difference between the outlet temperature and the inlet temperature. To satisfy this need, the software of the bench should allow to define a new quantity, the difference between outlet and inlet temperatures, and to check it against limits. This is possible with ParSeq. 

Case 2: the bench needs to check how much the flow temperature at a certain moment increased respect to the flow temperature at the beginning of the test.
In this case the quantity to check against limits is not a measured quantity, but a difference between the same measured quantity taken in two different moments. To satisfy this need, the software of the bench should allow to store in some way a measured quantity and to recall it in the future for a comparison with a new measurement of the same quantity. This is possible with ParSeq.
Case 3: the bench needs to check the instant ratio between power output to the CH circuit and heat input (something like an efficiency value).
Also in this case the quantity to check is not a measured one, but a complex combination of CH water flow rate, flow and return temperatures, gas flow rate, calorific power of the gas. The software of the bench should allow defining formulas that, taking measured quantities and other parameters as inlet, could produce a final result which could be checked agains limits. This is possible with ParSeq.
These are only few examples of the advanced features of ParSeq in data and measurement processing.

 

Heat Pumps Laboratory

| What?  

Microplan's laboratory test rigs HP-LAB are designed to test heat pumps.

| How?

HP-LAB are intended to perform laboratory tests of water to water and brine to water heat pumps according to international standards.

| Where?

In the laboratory.

| Who?

  • Manufacturers of heat pumps
  • Notified bodies

| Which?

The HP-Lab can carry out tests on heat pumps in these ranges:

  • 5 - 35KW of thermal power
  • 1 - 10KW of electric absorption

| Why?

  • Product certification costs reduction
  • Time to market reduction
  • Efficiency calculation
  • Preparation for product certification
  • Quality improvement
  • Research and development of new products
  • Full automatic control of flow and temperature regulations
  • Benchmarking
  • Full traceability of test data
  • Test data and report available for statistical elaborations
  • Market credibility

| Tests

  1. Heating capacity
  2. Cooling capacity
  3. Steady state conditions
  4. Measurement of heating capacity and cooling capacity
  5. Data to be recorded
  6. Steady state capacity test
  7. Steady state test

| International Standards

  • EN 14511

| Software

Cold Water Supply System (CWSS)

| What?  

This instantaneous system is capable to supply inlet water at constant desired temperature (without regard to the flow rate) by a mixing system, and it is suitable for strict and accurate sanitary tests.

| How?

CWSS units are intended to support the laboratory sanitary tests requiring an high accuracy degree on environmental water temperature conditions according to strict European Standards. The system acts as cool water supplier at a desired temperature by a fine regulation and it works buffering and adjusting in a proportional way the action of a chiller, of whom overcomes the limits.

| Where?

In the laboratory.

| Who?

  • Manufacturers of gas and solid fuels boilers
  • Certification laboratories

| Which?

CWSS units are suitable for laboratory and R&D test benches (boilers and water heaters).

| Why?

  • Product certification costs reduction
  • Time to market reduction
  • Performance calculation
  • Preparation for product certification
  • Quality tests improvement
  • Research and development of new products
  • Full automatic control of water temperature regulations
  • Benchmarking
  • Market credibility

| Tests

  • Hydraulic sanitary cuircuit
  • Specific flow rate
  • Tapping capability
  • Temperature variation, fluctuation and stabilization
  • Nominal and specific water rate
  • Tapping performance

| European Standards

  • EN 13203-1
  • EN 13203-2
  • EN 13203-3
  • EN 625
  • ERP
  • Any standard requiring water inlet at constant temperature
Gallery: 

Check Box for Electric Safety Tests unit (CB-EST)

The box

The CB-EST has been designed to check the functionality of the electric safety tests unit which is included in, or which works together with, some of the Microplan test benches. It is not a calibration unit; its function is to verify periodically if the electric safety machine is still operating properly.

The box mainly includes a set of electric resistances, whose value is selected according to the limits of current, voltage and resistance that the Electric Safety Test (EST) switchboard produces and measures. This test box needs to be connected to the same sockets in the test bench to which the boiler under test is usually connected. A specific test sequence, supplied with the box, has to be launched on the control PC of the bench. The user shall periodically perform this test to get the functionality of the EST tests under control. A daily check for every bench is advisable, but the customer can decide a different frequency.

The test sequence

The sequence supplied with the box is a test sequence like others, with some particular features; once launched the test sequence drives the electric safety tests unit to perform the tests and guides the operator in all the phases. The ground continuity, insulation and dielectric strength tests are performed, each one twice, as follows:

  • the first time the limits are set in the EST switchboard so that, considering the value of the resistances in the box, the test should end with a OK result. If this happens it means that the EST switchboard is correctly working therefore the sequence will continue with the following tests. If this is not the case, the test sequence will stop showing an error message.
  • the second time the limits in the EST switchboard are set in such a way that, considering the value of the resistances in the box, the test should end with a NOK result. If this happen it means that the switchboard is working well therefore the sequence will continue with the following tests. If this is not the case, the test sequence will stop showing an error message.

Gas water heaters Quality Control

What?  

Quality Control test rigs GWH-QC are suitable for gas water heaters

How?

GWH-QC test benches are designed to perform quality control tests.

Where?

In the Quality Control and Audit laboratories.

Who?

Manufactures of gas water heaters

Why?

  • Control of quality control procedures complying
  • Check of field failures 
  • Quality improvement
  • Feedback for process improvement
  • Development of new test sequences
  • Full traceability of test data
  • Test data and report available for statistical elaborations
  • Market credibility

Which

GWH-QC test benches are suitable for all types of gas water heaters

Tests

  • PID control of temperatures
  • PID control of water flow
  • Thermal flow measurement
  • Acquisition and log of all pressure, temperature and flow data
  • Check of reaction of single components of the boiler (water heater) to imposed conditions
  • Automatic filling and draining of the water heater

 

Gallery: 

Distribution modules R&D

| What?  

Microplan's R&D test rigs are suitable for:

  • heating distrbution modules
  • heating + sanitary distribution modules.

| How?

Microplan's R&D test rigs are designed to give the end user full flexibility to perform all the tests necessary to evaluate the performance of distribution modules.

| Where?

In the R&D laboratory.

| Who?

Manufacturers of distribution modules, boilers, water heaters, solar collectors.

| Why?

  • Benchmarking 
  • Time to market reduction
  • Preparation for product certification
  • Quality improvement
  • Research and development of new products
  • Full automatic control of flow and temperature regulations
  • Full traceability of test data
  • Test data and report available for statistical elaborations
  • Market credibility

| Tests

  • Full flexible tests. The synoptic panel is available for the operator to:
    • activate any component
    • log any measurement
    • graph any measure 
  • Automatic regulations. The operator can set the parameters to:
    • simulate the effect of a solar collector, by means of an electric resistance driven by a PWM signal, both on sanitary and heating
    • utilize an external heat source to regulate the effect of a storage tank on the sanitary
    • perform automatic PID regulations of water flow and temperature
    • perform automatic increasing or decreasing ramps
  • Test sequence editor:
    • the operator can perfom a series of operations and save them as a test sequence
    • every sequence created can be recalled for future use

| Software


 

Gallery: 

Distribution modules Life Tests

| What?

The test rig for life tests of distribution modules are suitable for:

  • heating distribution modules
  • heating + sanitary distribution modules

|How?

The test rigs for life tests are intended to perform tests based on thermal and mechanic stress of distribution modules.

| Where?

In the life tests room or in the R&D lab.

| Who?

  • Manufacturers of gas boilers
  • Manufacturers of heat pumps 
  • Manufacturers of hydraulic assemblies
  • Manufacturers of distribution modules

Why?

  • Final test time improvement
  • Endurance evaluation of the distribution modules and related components
  • Mechanic and thermal resistance evaluation
  • Quality improvement
  • Final product reliability improvement 
  • Test data available for statistical elaborations
  • Market credibility improvement

| Which?

These test rigs are suitable for the distribution modules of the different manufacturers available on the market.

| Tests

Software allows the operator to set on/off status of valves and thermostats so that the test bench will execute activation and deactivation cycles of the different zones (high and low temperature) and sanitary tappings. Flows and temperatures will be automatically logged.

| Number of devices under test

  • Up to 4 devices under test at the same time.

 

Gallery: 

SOLARsoft - software for lab of solar collectors

This software, written with LabView by National Instruments, is designed to perform the tests of solar panels according to ISO 9459 and EN 12975-2.

Main tests:

  • Determination of the daily system performance

  • Determination of the degree of mixing in the storage vessel during draw off

  • Determination of storage tank heat losses

  • User defined test routines

 

 

Air Conditioners End-of-Line

| What?

Microplan's end of line test rigs are suitable for:

  • internal and external units
  • cooling and heating (with heat pumps)

| How?

Microplan's end of line test rigs are intended to perform a full functional test of air conditioners.

| Where?

At the end of the production line before packing.

| Who?

Manufactures of air conditioners

| Why?

  • Test time reduction
  • Elimination of false failure
  • User friendly interface
  • Quality improvement
  • Full traceability of test data
  • Human operations driven and controlled by the test rig
  • Test data available for statistical elaborations
  • Multilanguage software
  • Market credibility

| Tests

  • Operator identification through scanner or badge
  • Air conditioner automatic barcode reading and test sequence automatic laoding and running
  • Electric safety tests
  • Voltage, current and power measurement
  • Air flow measurement
  • Cooling (and heating) temperature measurement and check with room temperature
  • Start and run current measurement
  • Swing check
  • Noise measurement
  • Remote control simulation
  • Remote control functions check
  • 4-way valve check
  • Test status interface with production line
  • Test data saving
Gallery: 

Serpico - constant pressure tank

| The problem 

If the water supply pressure in the customer's plant is not very stable, the regulation of the cooling water flow rate during efficiency tests can become very difficult, particularly in the part load tests with direct method, operating mode n. 1, where the cooling flow rate has to be very low in some cases.

| The solution

The constant pressure tank "SerPiCo" improves the testing procedure assuring a constant supply pressure for cooling water, compensating both pressure variations of the plant and differences in the flow rates demanded by the bench. Most of our customers found it very useful to keep the water inlet pressure stable not only for the secundary circuit during the efficiency tests, but also for the DHW circuit during sanitary tests. Therefore, as shown in the picture, the system includes an insulated tank to be used during tests on DHW that require inlet water at 10°C as per the standards; in this way power dispersion is avoided and humidity condensation on walls is highly reduced.

| The results 

As displayed in the graphs below, "SerPiCo" performs a better response than ordinary constant level water tanks during flow rate changes.  Moreover, it allows to reach an output supply pressure of 70% of the inlet pressure or more, so definitely higher than a constant level tank.

| Reaction to a sudden flow opening/closing:

Graph #1: Constant level tank (6m height, so only 0,6 bar pressure)

Traditional tank 

 

Graph #2:  "SerPiCo" Constant Pressure Tank (at 1.5 bar)

Serpico graph 

Gallery: 

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