This March Promtek welcomed a new apprentice, Jack, to the team. Jack will be with us for two years before becoming a fully-fledged field engineer. We have asked Jack to check in from time to time and tell us how his apprenticeship is going, and what he is learning about Promtek, the industrial automation industry and our customers’ industries!

Here is his how his first week went!


After my arrival, I was greeted by Richard, I was then walked up stairs to the office floor to meet all the colleagues. After meeting everyone, I had a tour of the premises with Michaela addressing all the fire extinguisher and call point locations as well as they Fire assembly points in the event of any fire. I was then introduced to Liam, a fellow apprentice to carry out the Weekly Vehicle checks of all the vehicles used by engineers. I performed these checks using a form with all the required checks that needed to be assessed. This ranged from Checking Engine oil to making sure the Tyres pressure and tread were within tolerance. This showed me how seriously Promtek takes vehicle safety and how the lives of engineers will never be at risk when using these vehicles when on site. Once Vehicle checks had been completed, I was informed that I needed new PPE for use when either in the workshop or on site with clients. Accompanied with Liam we went to Arco to purchase the required PPE. During the afternoon I was sat with Liam as he informed me of the varies programs that are used at Promtek such as Google Calendar and Toggl.


During the Morning I was with Graham in the PC testing area, we went over multiple types of Load Cells Varying from Tension to Compression. I was then set a task of correctly wiring up a Promtek PK486 load cell amplifier to correctly display numbers generated by the load cell.

After, I was set multiple health and safety Video tutorials followed by tests, the areas include:

Stress awareness, focusing on how to relieve stress and pressure at work and how to cope under times of stress and how to help others cope with stress correctly.

Fire awareness, focusing on correct procedures to undertake when a fire occurs and how to warn people that a fire is present. Different extinguishers are needed for different types of fire, for example it is OK for a water based extinguisher to be used in a situation where the fuel is combustible based such as wood, however it can be sometimes dangerous to use a water based extinguisher on a liquid based fire, or even a electrical based as this could cause the fire to spread further and could cause an electric shock if electrical appliances are involved.

One other topic was the DSE topic, this focused on how to correctly set up chairs and equipment on a desk. All the methods in this topic were aiding in reducing RSI in the workplace.

During the latter half of the afternoon I was shown how to set up a ThinClient with Liam Barks, which are used by Promtek control systems to display graphics and operate the machinery.


The morning was spent with Graham and Tom, we spent the morning calibrating a weighing system using a different load cell amplifier to yesterday. After trial and error, we were able to set the amplifier up and begin calibrating a feeder. We first had to work out the weight of the hopper, we worked this out to be 75kg, we did this by working out the mv/v of the load cells which was 2.00mv/V on a 100kg load cell and we had 3 cells. The excitation was 5v, so the load cell can give a maximum of 10mv max which would equal 300kg. From the hopper we were getting 2.5mv reading on the amplifier so this means that it is a quarter of the maximum weight the load cells can take which is 75kg. Once the weight for the feeder had been worked out, we added 5x 10kg weights to the hopper to calibrate 50kg weight which we thought was a suitable weight that the feeder would be carrying on site and the mv that is was giving us was 4.375mv which is the correct mv for the weight. This tells me that that calibration was successful.


The morning consisted of calibrations with GK, I was tasked with correctly calibrating a platform scale by myself. I did this by first making sure the PK486 amplifier was set up to the correct decimal places, I then needed to set the span to the maximum for the platform scale which was 50kg. The pre-gain is the setting needed for the specific load cell as it is a 2mv/V cell. Once all these settings were changed any weights that may have been on the scale need to be removed so that you can set the Zero weight correctly. When the Zero weight reads 0kg, then the maximum weight can be added to the scale to start with the calibration of the weight. The next setting to go into is the CA setting, all that needs to be done in this setting is to set it to the weight you have just added to the scale.

During the afternoon, I was taught how to set the PK486 output from current to voltage. The default setting for this amplifier is 4-20 mA however for the PLC this needs to be changed to 0-10v, this can be done by opening the amplifier and locating the analogue output inside the amplifier. Once the amplifier has been set up correctly for the PLC, it can then be connected to the PLC so that measurements can be taken. The correct Zero needs to be inputted from the amplifier so the correct counts for Zero are being shown by the PLC which should be 1638 using 0-10v setting. The next setting to be changed is the AR setting, this setting should show the maximum weight that can be shown. For the scale that we were using this was set to 50KG. The PLC then needed to read this weight as 16383 counts, however we changed this setting to 14745 as this gave us more room away from the maximum weight if the operator added more than the maximum weight to the scale. Once this was all correct I was given a manual for the PK486 Load cell amplifiers so that I can read up on any information I want about the amplifier.


With the Service Manager GK in the morning I recapped calibrations training that was done on Thursday. Also saw more in depth about why we should set the maximum counts lower than what the PLC can read at maximum. We do it because if the weight goes slightly above max then it will still be shown on screen. Also recapped that to calibrate, I should always use the gross analogue tab on Promtek control systems to check the reading, as in the soft calibrations screen I could accidentally affect the calibration. On Friday I also went through the PK430 weight indicator folder reading through the topics, from operation to specification and installation. The section I focused on the most was the calibration paragraph. The calibration method for this Amplifier is very similar to the PK486 load cell amplifier in that the symbols and UI is the same as the PK486, this means that calibration is the same as the PK486.

.jpg” alt=”” width=”150″ height=”150″ class=”alignright size-full wp-image-1011″ />During the afternoon I was given a file that shows how to set up a new Control Server for iRMX (Promtek’s original StoraWeigh control system) using a SB630-CRM motherboard. This motherboard is compatible with 2nd and 3rd generation i3 – i7 Intel CPU’s given its LGA 1155 chipset. First the Rig needs to be assembled with the relevant hardware needed. Once all the base hardware has been installed, the hardware for the iRMX is needed – this means that the hard drives RAID needs to be plugged into the SATA 3.0 port on the motherboard. The DVD drive can then be installed into the SATA 2.0 Port. Once that’s done you need to fasten a dual USB socket somewhere inside the PC case and then plug it into the USB header on the MOBO this is needed for the Intime system. After the hardware is installed, the PC can then be booted up so that the BIOS can then be configured to Promtek standards. Now that the correct hard disk master for either the iRMX or the INtime operating system for for Promtek’s new Windows-based control system is installed into the raid unit, reset the PC so that the PC and raid see the disk correctly. When the server has rebooted install a second hard drive into the second raid slot. Now wait for the data to copy. One completed remove the master disk and replace with a blank hard drive and label the hard drives correctly for their given roles… Easy!