When considering purchasing an environmental test chamber, keep the following in mind: A properly maintained chamber can operate for 15 years or more.
So short-term budget cuts pay off in the long run. To keep your test room growing, proper maintenance and service can also allow for hardware and software updates, as well as physical additions such as air dryers. The same goes for existing test rooms.
Proper maintenance requires a commitment from your in-house staff to general maintenance, a clean work environment, implementation and enforcement of best practices, and responsible testing.
It also helps to have an expert close by, either physically or through communication. The best environmental test chamber manufacturers understand the importance of reliability and reliable hardware. Quality test room services keep your projects on schedule and get you to market faster. Even the slightest unplanned downtime can cause major setbacks, and significant delays, and result in lost revenue.
Manufacturers of environmental test chambers provide these basic benefits and more:
- Expertise to discuss possible solutions with you
- Rapid response to service calls and inquiries
- Innovation for maximum efficiency
- Ability to perform field repairs, perform inspections, or calibrate instruments
- Know your budget to guide you in choosing the right testing room
- Valuable advice, including when to replace (or upgrade) your testing room or if renting is right for you
- Flexible Maintenance Program
If you want your test chamber to last, you can’t ignore service. This guide will help you make informed decisions to keep your test chamber performing at peak performance and prolong the life of your test chamber.
1. Customer Service
environmental test chamber manufacturers should provide support throughout the life of their products. Just as they guide your initial purchase, they’ll check in when it’s time for scheduled repairs or general maintenance.
For this reason, most offer preventative and advanced maintenance plans. Customer service goes beyond these plans, though, as it is most important during the outage. If your test room is not functioning properly, you need to fix it ASAP.
Now, let’s say you maintain a relationship with the original manufacturer. In another situation, you may have purchased a used test chamber. Manufacturers of top-quality test chambers are capable of working on any model or make.
This capability puts more emphasis on customer service because it’s another investment you make. Look for these characteristics.
1) Limit distractions
At the very least, testing room customer service should be focused on limiting disruption. In this regard, being ahead of the problem is crucial. They can schedule maintenance inspections, set dates to review operations and address potential issues before delays to schedules.
It’s not just about preventing production delays. Providing consistent, high-quality calibration services during the R&D phase can give you the confidence to set timelines or advance your product.
Nothing ever goes exactly to plan, but you’ll be glad to have a technician on hand if there is an outage.
Testing rarely follows a nine-to-five schedule. It is usually performed for hours and days and repeated on top of that. Not every industry is the same.
Customer service should reflect this through quick responses and/or effective communication. Empathy comes before resolution.
3) Professional knowledge
There’s no point in being focused and responsive if the company you’re dealing with doesn’t have the expertise to deliver the solution. This involves physical repairs and regular inspections, but it also covers a wide range of variables.
From small enough to sit on a desk to large enough to drive into, testing chambers range in size. Then there are the detailed conditions, from the capabilities of the test room to the required surroundings, not to mention the different national and international standards. Industry to industry.
When you ask, ‘Can you do it? You want confident responses and explanations.
Availability is more than a quick reply to an email or the person on the other end of a service call. Both are important, but so is physical availability. Extended testing delays can drag the entire timeline of a product.
Consider this when selecting an environmental testing chamber supplier. The ability to perform field repairs and conduct inspections is a must. It’s not possible to ship the test chamber every time something goes wrong, nor can it simply be left in the store.
Find a partner who can deliver in person.
After dedicated research and discussions with your team, you should expect the same thoroughness from test room manufacturers. If they have your best interests at heart, they won’t lead you in unwanted directions.
This may involve a conversation about purchasing the right testing room. They may suggest renting as you make your plans and discuss budget constraints.
They also consistently make correct repairs and recommend upgrades where applicable. They also walk you through when it’s time to consider a new machine. Make sure you invest in a reliable service.
After making the decision to purchase an environmental test chamber, a commitment should be made to maintain it properly. This is an expensive item that is critical to your operation. If you neglect proper maintenance, you can harm your bottom line and delay product launches.
So how often should you check the testing room? Well, the short answer is to pay attention to whether it is functioning properly. Any perceived problems should be checked immediately to prevent larger, more expensive repairs.
Beyond the obvious, it’s important to be thorough. Regular maintenance is the key to achieving the strong return on investment associated with environmental testing chambers. That means you should have (or seek an expert to do) quarterly and annual inspections.
Preventive maintenance plans may vary depending on the type of test room you have. Consult your manufacturer for details.
1) quarterly maintenance
Get out of your calendar. Schedule maintenance inspections. Then flip the three months into the future and schedule another.
It is critical to perform the following maintenance on a quarterly basis:
On your electrical system:
- High-pressure readout, remote, and/or external
- High-pressure reading, regulation system
- Low voltage reading, the control terminal
- Compressor current reading
- thermal current reading
- Control switch testing (power, heating, cooling, lighting)
- Interior Light Test
On your humidity system:
- Check the water softener filter (monthly)
- Clean the external tank (monthly)
- Remove water from the test chamber
- cleaning steam generator
On your refrigeration system:
- Condenser coil cleaning, grooming and maintenance
- static pressure check
- work stress check
- Read diagnostic data from Copeland Control Module
In Your Walk-in Room (if applicable):
- Door operation and sealing (latch, hasp and hinge)
- doors and windows
- Air regulator cleaning and adjustment (if necessary)
- Drain and condensate pump testing
Control System And Performance:
- High-Temperature Test: Rate to High Setpoint
- Low-Temperature Test: Low Setpoint Rate
2) Quarterly Inspection
In addition to quarterly inspections, set aside time and resources to conduct inspections of critical systems in the test room. This is a critical step. Maintenance focuses on potential minor fixes or adjustments, while inspections cover areas that ensure the test room is functioning properly and will continue to operate.
Here’s a rundown:
On Your Electrical System:
- Solenoid valve cover and coil
- Condenser fan running
On Your Humidity System:
- Conduct in-house water testing
- Check the hoses on the water recirculation system
On Your Refrigeration System:
- On-site glass oil level
- Air Dryer Rusted or Corroded
- Condenser net distance
- Air handler leak checks to prevent air leaks
- pipe insulation
In Your Walk-In Room (if applicable):
- Exterior panel integrity (look for punctures, tears or dents)
- Internal panel integrity (look for punctures, tears or dents)
- Floor integrity (look for punctures, tears or dents)
- panel gasket
- panel lock
- Ports and Port Plugs
- doors and windows
Control System and Performance:
- rusty or corroded
- Water Leakage or Condensation
- Gasket Leakage
- proper clearance
3) Annual Maintenance
At least once a year, be sure to clean the control panel of the electrical system. Remove debris with a vacuum cleaner or blower.
You should also schedule an inspection of the electrical system for:
- Heaters (wire and tubular)
- ground wire
- Wire (harness)
- sensor clip
- Verify the accuracy of sensors and controllers
Finally, check the evaporator in the refrigeration system.
Your test chamber will run at peak performance if you perform quarterly and annual maintenance. You’ll meet deadlines and schedule projects into the future with confidence.
3. Service and Calibration Program
It’s one thing to spot performance issues in a test room. Fixing it quickly is another matter. Some companies may have in-house capabilities to resolve issues as they arise. However, those who do not invest in service plans.
environmental test chamber manufacturers offer different service programs designed to provide customers with a convenient solution. They come in the form of advanced services and calibrations.
1) Preventive Maintenance and Advanced Service Programs
The manufacturer offers regular and scheduled quarterly and annual prevention protocols. By implementing this practice, you can ensure your test room runs smoothly and eliminate the risk of larger problems.
Keep in mind that these agreements do not necessarily tie you to the manufacturer or its designer from whom you purchased the test chamber. A skilled technician can examine models from different manufacturers.
In addition to preventative programs, manufacturers offer advanced service programs, such as Associated Environmental Systems (AES) Advanced Service Advantage Program (ASAP), which provides test room owners with the opportunity to perform maintenance earlier.
Customers who open an account with a prepaid service balance enjoy a variety of benefits: discounted rates on service and parts, and no overtime charges. Routine maintenance (as described above) is covered in the plan and a quick response to unexpected events is guaranteed.
Companies with multiple environmental testing chambers tend to opt for this type of service plan, with the added benefit that the balance can be used to purchase new chambers.
The digital state of a test room is as important as its physical state. Keep an eye on the calibration of sensors and digital controllers while checking for dents, leaks, and corrosion.
Proper calibration is to ensure accuracy. The temperature, humidity, controllers, recorders and sensors of the test chamber work together to produce accurate results.
On the other hand, invalid calibrations can compromise your test data, resulting in a loss of time and resources. Calibration services keep your test chamber running smoothly, ensuring compliance with industry standards and maximizing repeatability.
They are a key element in maintaining operations and keeping your data available for use.
4. Quick Guide to Testing Room Rentals
Buying an environmental test chamber isn’t in everyone’s budget. Even if there is, it may not be necessary for your testing needs. Leasing is a viable option for customers requiring limited or short-term testing of newly developed products while minimizing costs.
For this reason, it’s an option that appeals to many businesses. An added benefit of leasing is that it serves as an educational period for companies that may wish to purchase test rooms in the future.
1) Why Do You Rent
Renting rather than buying a testing room depends on budget and needs. Although test rooms offer a good return on investment, they are still a significant capital expenditure. For companies with very limited and/or specific testing needs, renting may be the most logical option.
Just like when making a purchasing decision, research is paramount. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is this a one-time test or do we expect more tests in the future?
- What do we test (research, production, reliability, or quality)?
- How strict is our schedule?
- Can the manufacturer provide a test chamber that meets our needs?
- Do we have in-house personnel who can operate the test room, or do we need support?
- What payment plan makes sense for us?
These questions will help improve efficiency. If you can smooth out the hiccups before the test room arrives, it will make the test go more smoothly. Using an environmental testing chamber can also be an educational experience, especially if you work with a supplier you like.
You may find yourself planning to purchase one in the future, and you can use the rent to inform that decision.
2) Rental Type
At a basic level, there are three types of environmental test chambers: floor-standing, bench-top, and oven. Each comes in a range of sizes (for example, a floor model can be large enough to hold a car or a large number of products) and uses.
That’s why it’s so important to know your requirements before renting. You might think that you only need one thing to find another more suitable solution. The appropriate environmental test chamber manufacturer can guide you through the process. If you’re testing for corrosion, they recommend a salt spray chamber; if you’re testing to military standards, they recommend a temperature and humidity chamber.
The good news is that modern test rooms have extensive customization possibilities. Remote test monitoring is also possible via hardware and software. Ask the right questions to get the right solutions.
3) Should You Buy a Test Chamber?
Companies that buy testing rooms instead of renting or outsourcing testing see a strong return on investment.
They also thrive on flexibility because they know they can take the test whenever they want. It gives them peace of mind in a situation where product recalls are very real and costly.
That being said, it’s not a one-and-done option. Consider all results of the test. If you are in the research and development phase, which is critical to finalizing the details of your product, you may benefit from leasing to make iterative changes on the fly. However, if you are testing in production, your test room will be in constant use – and the rental costs will multiply.
Of course, the biggest factor is how often you need to test your environment. Constantly returning leases can dent your budget, especially when manufacturers offer rent-to-own or buyout options.