Palmer Environmental: Mast II

Water leak detector

Palmer Mast IIPalmer Mast II

Market leaders in the design and supply of leak detection systems for the water utilities, Palmer Environmental, Cwmbran, ( hired E2L to undertake a design review for compatability with the RoHS directive, and to take the opportunity to re-design and repackage their existing ‘MAST’ step testing product. Step testing is an effective, flow based method of localising water loss within a zoned distribution system.

The project is an example of inherited product through company takeover without sufficient documentation being available to fully engage with the design without diverting a disproportionate resource.

E2L was commissioned with a variety of tasks: to make the product fit for RoHS; to change the packaging and industrial design, to cost reduce the product; to redesign for more efficient and easier production, to retain all positive aspects of the design; and to fulfill the contract at a fixed price.

The solution was to introduce a new industrial design which allowed the product to be hand-held instead of ‘portable’ and presented an easier user interface using a membrane keypad with integral LEDs.

The system consists of a receiver and a transmitter; and the solution was to completely redesign the transmitter section; and then use the existing receiver design and transfer it to the new packaging. In the case of the receiver, not all the components had RoHS equivalents and in one instance E2L emulated an obsolete LSI chip using a PIC.

Both units had their battery technologies changed from lead-acid to Li-ion so a new, and more complex, battery charging and management circuit was also developed.

Whilst the transmitter was developed as a carte blanche design under E2L’s quality procedure, the receiver was a mixture of legacy design and some necessary changes both to hardware and software. In particular the auditing of the receiver hardware from schematic drawing through to PCB and the subsequent integration of new design changes proved to be the critical path in the job. The project is also indicative of E2L being able to pick up another writer’s software (uncommented 8051 assembler) and modify it to integrate new changes.

The product is now produced by Palmer Environmental as MAST II.