Test and Tag Machine With Printer:
With so many test and tag machines available, all professing to be the best in class, we thought that we would shed some light on this matter. Make no mistake, test and tag is a big thing in Australia and New Zealand with Australian Standards, mainly AS/NZS3760 setting out the requirements for how it is performed to best practice. Test and tag machines, sometimes called Portable Appliance Testers, or PAT Testers in different parts of the world should always meet the relevant Australian Standards, and be capable of performing tests to AS/NZS3760.
With so many test and tag units out there, the choice can appear overwhelming, but as long as you stick to the basics, it is actually far simpler than it appears. Usually, the more expensive the test and tag machine is, the more automation is available. The lower cost units are generally straightforward devices, primarily designed for testing a limited number of items, with the more expensive units complete with printer and scanner, designed for larger volume testing and made to minimize the time taken by allowing the user to test, tag and print on site.
When considering an investment in a test and tag machine, the following considerations should be made:
- Volume of equipment – Large volumes can take a considerable time
- Cost – not only the initial investment, but the cost per test and tag (including the tag)
- Functionality and the ability to test to the most up to date and relevant standards
- Ease of ongoing service and calibration
- Ease of obtaining consumables – Essential for the test and tag machines with printer
- Ease of use – If the test and tag machine is not user friendly, testing will take far longer
If you are likely to be test and tagging larger volumes of equipment, then a test and tag machine with printer and scanner is likely to save you heaps of time and money in the long run. Something like the TnP-500 is ideal for larger volume test and tag on appliances rated up to 10A current, which covers everything that can be plugged into a standard socket outlet. The TnP-500 is available in standard format with printer, scanner, keyboard and asset management software in a single unit, and is also available as the TnP-500W with a wireless scanner, although this option costs slightly more than the wired scanner which has a 1.8 metre cable.
The whole process of testing with any of the TnT Test and Print Units is actually very simple, considering the powerful interface contained within them. Everything is in a very simple menu system with no more than 4 buttons – 3 to select menu items on the screen and the fourth button to enter or start the test.
For those customers who may be migrating from a different system or brand, or even those who are purchasing a test and tag machine for the first time, it is a simple matter to take an asset list and using the included import utility, a CSV file can be imported into the software and a database easily created. With the appliance list in the software program, it can be uploaded into the machine in one click and it’s ready to go.
As soon as the test and tag machine is switched on, the user can search for the appliance either by typing in the number from the keyboard or scanning the barcode, if a tag is already there. If it’s a new appliance then the details can be entered as easily as sitting at a computer with plenty of information, such as model, make, serial number, asset number, location, description and test frequency. All of these values are very easy to edit and input giving the user an immense amount of flexibility. Up to 16 sites and 5,000 items can be stored in the TnP-500 memory, which can be optionally upgraded to hold 20,000 items, but most customers just choose to split their testing over different databases and upload the correct one before going out to test, in order to keep everything separate.
Once the testing is done, the results are simply downloaded to a PC running the software program and an equipment summary report with company logo can be saved and/or printed to serve as the log book, hence saving loads of time and repetition as a manual log book does not need to be kept. On top of this, it reduces any errors or mistakes caused by forgetting to enter test details, as the machine does it all automatically. The software program itself has a straightforward interface and can be configured, so that all appliances can even have their own tests automatically assigned. Reminders of test due dates are built into the program, making it a full asset management system, rather than just a test and tag machine and printer.
As for the testing itself, it could not be easier. With the appliance connected to the unit, the user simply selects the appliance type (Class 1, Class 2 or Extension Lead) and hits the Enter button for 2 seconds and follows the prompts. The machine automatically does the test, and displays the result plus whether it is a pass or fail, which is set to AS/NZS3760 standards. If the appliance is not correctly connected, the TnP-500 will not allow the test to proceed. As well as the standard test and tag tests, the Test and Print Units can also test RCD operation (ramp current and trip time) and can perform a current leakage test, also known as a load test. The TnP-500 performs the load test on appliances up to 10A, and the TnP-500X performs load tests on appliances rated up to 20A. Load testing involves the appliance being powered on by the test and tag machine and current being measured. There are limits on current leakage imposed by AS/NZS3760, so the portable appliance tester measures this leakage to make sure it is within the prescribed limits. Many of the cheaper units, mainly the hand held battery powered devices, cannot handle these sorts of currents passing through and therefore are not all suitable for correct leakage testing.
Once the test is complete, the tag printer automatically prints out a customized test tag, which the customer can have complete with their logo and details ready to fix onto the tested appliance. For appliances which may just require a visual check only, the Test and Print Units can easily print out a test tag, which is achieved by the user just holding down enter for 2 seconds from the test screen, and following the prompt to pass or fail the item.
Typically these appliance testers cut down the time taken to test and tag by up to 80%, and the consumables cost a fraction of the cost of pre-printed test tags. If you are testing volume, say over 500 appliances, it really starts to make sense to look at one of these PAT testers because although the initial investment is higher, the running costs and efficiency of testing overwhelms this. Coupled with this, the TnP-500, TnP-500X, TnP-500W, TnP-500WX and even the TnP-500PH are all very safe units to use. Each of them has internal circuitry which prevents dangerous voltages from flowing through sensitive electronic components, such as circuit boards.
One of the unique features of all TnT PAT testers, including the Test and Print Units is the in built meter mode, which can be activated by pressing one single button. This allows the screen on the test and tag machine to function almost like a multimeter and show voltage, current, apparent and active power flowing into the device, which is a useful function to have if something may be tripping a switch or overheating for example.
The entire test and tag unit, and the printer, barcode scanner and keyboard are housed in an impact resistant ABS case, designed for field use and easy transport. Opening the case allows the PAT tester to feel like a small control console with all features laid out in front of the operator.
For high volume test and tag we don’t feel that there is a better unit. The whole of the TnT test and tag machine range is designed and built in Australia, specifically for use to Australian Standards. It will save you time and effort in high volume test and tag, whether it be a single client or multiple clients.
Please contact us if you require further advice or assistance. Our staff are experts in the field of test and measurement with years of experience in testing and inspection. We can configure these machines for you, complete with your company logo at no extra cost. Any of our test and tag machines with printer and scanner can be purchased either online at www.test-equipment.com.au , or by calling us on 1800 837 837 with your requirements. We offer full product support and assistance on all test and print units.