Thomas Instrumentation has developed several different control systems with applications for transportation industries such as automotive, locomotive, and aerospace. We understand that this type of industry demands an extra level of care and robustness, so our employees carefully inspect and test each product that leaves our facility.
Some of our transportation control products include:
Drop Tower Control System
This system was developed for a glass manufacturer to test the breaking point of automotive windshields or any glass laminate. We designed, programmed, and manufactured the first complete Drop Tower system in the late 1970s. It is still considered an industry standard test today. Previously, manufacturers of glass laminates had to break a lot of glass panels to estimate the break point through trial & error. Our system provides accurate values within a couple tests which greatly reduces the number of destroyed glass panels. This saves manufacturers a great deal of money.
In 2015, we were contacted by the company who originally ordered this system in the 1970s. They asked us to build another, brand new Drop Tower to install in their new facility in Brazil. They were still using the system built in the 1970s for their testing. Apparently, it’s been operating well those past 40+ years. In 2016, we did finally have to repair one of their boards and have since gotten a few repairs from their partners with original Drop Tower systems. We’re very proud of this project.
Automated Revenue Control System for Parking Facilities
This was one of the early automated payment systems for parking facilities. The three main components of this system are a ticket issuing machine, a gate, and either a fee computer or a pay station. The controller for the ticket issuing machine provided magnetically encoded tickets to users. Some reliability features of the system included error checking of the ticket encoding, lost ticket detection, low ticket detection, and battery backup for memory storage. The gate controller handled the solid state motor control for opening and closing the gate.
The fee computer automatically computes the parking fee by reading the ticket’s magnetic stripe, displays the fee, and can remotely monitor other equipment in the parking control system. The pay station is similar to the fee computer in that it automatically computes parking fees from the ticket’s magnetic stripe and can monitor other equipment in the system. However, the pay station is also designed to be easy for users, has intruder alarms, accepts cash payments, and automatically dispenses change.
This system is an intelligent fuel gauge which measures the diesel fuel level of the current locomotive engine and can display fuel levels of all other engines in the consist. The system taps into an already existing network to report and extract fuel level information. It provides an engineer with the ability to view remaining fuel levels of every engine on his consist from any engine cab. This also allows engineers to reliably and efficiently manage their fuel levels and plan effective re-fueling stops.
Non-Destructive Testing for Aircraft Turbine Engines
This system performs a non-destructive test with precise laser scanning and video processing to determine weaknesses and failures in the turbine blades of fighter aircraft. The original test systems were developed for use by Pratt & Whitney. These systems were designed to be accurate, robust, easy to use, and insensitive to environmental noise.
A slightly different and portable version was developed from this system to detect weaknesses and failures in aircraft bodies and rocket booster insulation on the Space Shuttles. For the Space Shuttles, it was primarily used to help determine and resolve the issue of the rocket booster insulation peeling off.