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What you need to consider when choosing a leak test system

Ron Pawulski - Account Manager

Contributed by: Ron Pawulski - Account Manager

Let me tell you a story...

There was once a manufacturer of off-highway equipment, a premium brand with a strong reputation in the market for reliability and prompt customer service.

But they were having a problem – leaks in the transmissions for one of its flagship vehicles. This was leading to a lot of warranty claims and returns that were proving costly and threatening to tarnish its brand with customers.

This manufacturer was using leak test systems from three different suppliers. The leak test system for the transmission line regularly gave such irregular results it had become standard practice for the test operators to ignore results or fudge the test to achieve a pass. They had no trust in the test. Hence why it was starting to cost the manufacturer with reputation and profitability. 

For large manufacturers, that’s where the decision-making process should begin when choosing a leak test system – the impact on your bottom line and on your reputation with customers.

Maybe, like this manufacturer of off-highway equipment, you need something better than you have, because the test you are using simply can’t address the variables that are skewing results. Or the directive has come down from head office to streamline and simplify your supply chain by reducing the number of vendors you rely on. Or you’re a smaller business that’s looking to acquire its first testing stations.

Regardless of your circumstances, consider the following when it comes to leak test:

  • 1) What level of Gage R&R – repeatability and reproducibility – do you need in your test results given your product, your warranty commitment, and the expectations of customers?
  • 2) What cycle time must the leak test be able to achieve to keep up with your production quota?
  • 3) How important is traceability to your brand, to be able to trace the birth history of a part by its serial number to track down the origin/cause of a defect?

The answer to that last point really depends on where your brand fits into the supply chain. This is important to big name brands like a Hewlett-Packard or a John Deere. But smaller parts suppliers may be content, given their business model, to simply replace a defective part without caring about tracking down origin/cause of the defect.

If you do want traceability, you need to look past the individual testing station and consider if the leak test vendor can also provide a data management and analytics platform. You want such a platform to collect the complete waveform of the entire process for every part tested, so this data can be visualized for easy interpretation and crunched to find trends, patterns and anomalies.

But making choices and changes of this scale carries risk – your job can be on the line. You need to have vetted your options as objectively as possible to arrive at the right choice of system, with the data to back up that decision.

In another blog post we've gotten into nitty gritty of how to conduct a successful leak trial, to effectively pit one vendor’s solution against another.

Want to improve your leak test?

We’ve helped discrete manufacturers achieve unbeatable throughput, reliability and repeatability from leak tests that were formerly a bottleneck and a quality problem. Learn more about Sciemetric leak test solutions for your production line.