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The initial bill of materials that was created was based upon required materials and components to create the conveyor belt. Throughout the project, several challenges emerged. The biggest challenge that was faced during the project was finding the right pulleys to mount on the structural frame that turns the shaft. Several hours were spent searching for the right components.
The purpose of the multi-water pump system was to teach students float controls and PLCs. This was a very challenging project even though the system was already fabricated it had several issues.
I was asked to make recommendations to improve/fix certain aspects of the project. Before analyzing/testing the system, research had to be done on float controls. Through research, it was discovered that the two wire float switch communicated with the PLC. Then the PLC determines the different water levels which turns on/off the pumps as needed. After countless hours of research, three primary objectives for the project were determined: the float control, the mechanical design of the system, and the PLC design.
In the system there needs to be away to allow for a switch to turn on and off without cycling the pump at the same time. It was decided to add two switches, and wire a relay around one of them, which will give the control that is needed. There will be two switches: one that sets the minimum level of the water and the other that will set the maximum level of the water.
When the water is below both switches it remains closed and the pump will continue running, until both switches are open. After learning about float controls, the second part of the project was finding float level switches online. ProSense Float Level switches were perfect for this project since it provided a low-cost solution for monitoring water levels that experienced different temperatures and system pressures. In addition, they were easy to find which will fulfill the specification of easy maintenance for the equipment if one of the sensors ever break.
For the mechanical design of the system, it had to be analyzed and tested. The layout of the system is illustrated in Figure 6. The system contains three buckets with five switch valves, water flow pipes, and small water pump. While testing the system, it was noticed that valves were not working. Through extensive research and communication with the manufacturer it was found that the valve chosen would not perform well with the chosen pump. The valve was designed for a system that operated at a higher pressure than the water pressure our pump was providing. To fix this issue, irrigation valves that were found at a local hardware store were used.
The irrigation valves control the flow of water. Most models have a solenoid, which controls the valves actions. Air from the valve escapes when the solenoid is activated. The pipe has an inlet and outlet connections. The inlet is where the water passes through the main line. The water enters and is directed to the diaphragm. A small orifice in the diaphragm allows the water to flow through to the chamber. The water continues to travel through the port to the solenoid area which has a light spring loaded metal piston, that when the valve is closed, the hole is covered. The valve stays closed because the surface area on top of the diaphragm is greater than the surface area at the bottom. The valve opens when the water in the upper chamber is released.The PLC Design, a CLICK was selected, as shown in figure 8, as the PLC micro controller. It is programmed in a software called CLICK software which was provided by PTEC. The PLC unit has an 10/100 Mbps multipurpose ethernet port for faster networking and control. The built in ethernet port is used to program the system. (3) The program language used for the PLC is Ladder Logic. It easily integrates with existing networks which provides cost effective solutions for different applications.
As I reflect back on my internship at PTEC, it is hard to believe that my experience is nearing an end. Overall, my time at PTEC has been very educational and rewarding. It has taught me that communication is an essential tool in productivity and efficiency of a project. It is important to repeat back your task to your employer to make sure you understood them correctly and ask questions. This helps not to just complete the project but, to be more efficient. Several classes have taught different techniques for good communication, which has helped during this internship. Good communication is very important in engineering and it is good to improve this skill throughout my career.
Through this internship I had the opportunity to use knowledge that I gained in previous experiences and courses to design, fabricate, and test these projects. Learning about gears and belt design in Design and Analysis of Machine Components helped in being able to calculate the belt length and gear sizes needed to achieve desired speed of the conveyor belt.
In addition, I was able to enhance my abilities to apply different engineering skills that I have learned during my studies as a mechanical engineer. By utilizing my problem-solving and analytical skills to design student training equipment, I was able to develop the conveyor belt using computer tools to analyze/design the system, determine parameters for system control and troubleshooting techniques. One specific computer tooled used in the design for the conveyor belt and multi-water pump was SolidWorks which I learned at the university.
Specific things that I learned during my internship were how to program PLCs, create ladder diagrams, and write technical reports.
This was very rewarding because I gained newfound knowledge from my internship by fulfilling tasks that are relevant to to my career path and sharpen/grow skills that I already possessed in real world situations. By applying my skills it really helped to identify my strength and weaknesses, which gave me a chance to improve on those areas.
Looking back now at all that I have learned through my experience at PTEC I am able to see all the skills I have learned and improved on during my time there. The biggest thing I take away from my internship is that in engineering we never stop learning.
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