CATM and Retrofit: Boost your lab!

CATM and Retrofit: Boost your lab!

By Dr.-Ing. Dieter Barz, Altracon:

You can’t ignore a powerful CATM (Computer Aided Test Management) system with today’s demands in product- and quality assurance. However, based on the high number of old existing machines without data connection the recipe-management and their download are time-consuming and faulty. The same applies for the return of test data. Altracon took the challenge to improve these processes by creating a comprehensive complete solution for a CATM-system together with a retrofit, which proofs to be successful implemented in multiple retrofit machine applications.
The availability of equipment in production or R&D is essential for the operating cost of a machine. It is important to keep the reliability on a high level and the downtime on a minimum. Whilst a machine is operating satisfactory for years, a regular maintenance is sufficient to care. Even if data exchange is time-consuming, the machine is reliably performing, why to change a running system? But what if spare parts must be retrieved for whatever reason, or changed regulations require an extension of the machines’ functionality? Suddenly you may find out, that parts and services for your machine are no longer available or the required modules may be out of production. Suddenly things have changed and no investment-budget for a new machine is available. What to do now? A Retrofit made by Altracon finds remedy.
Retrofit generally stands for modernisation or extension of existing machines with the clear objective to improve the quality or the efficiency of the system or both. The major part of a retrofit is focusing on measurement equipment, electrical components and control systems. However, a modernization of the hydraulics and mechanical joints, bearings or guides are possibly also included. Existing equipment is in general brought up to date by exchanging obsolete or defective components and replacing them with new, modern technology. This in particular makes sense based on the fact that the technology development of electrical– and control systems moves that fast, that these are overaged within a relatively short period of time. The mechanics often lasts much longer, especially with older machines.


A modernisation of the system delivers various advantages to the operator. Most important is the increase in productivity at a significantly lower cost compared to a new relevant equipment. However, machine manufacturers often argue that repair or modernisation of an aged machine is inefficient for the customer compared to new machinery, but there is no strong argument which approves this statement. Quite the contrary – retrofitted machines are as good as new, a retrofit requires less time and makes economically sense. Altracon developed individual retrofit-concepts, which allow to perform an upgrade of the entire system and its components on the premises of the customer. The key fact is that dismantling and reassembling of the machinery is not required, hence cost and in particular the downtime is reduced to a minimum.
With the latest measurement and control technology and the optimization of both system and process, Altracon ensures that quality, performance and compliance with the latest technical standards for product testing will be met or even excelled. The combination of the high-quality mechanical engineering of older machines with the latest measurement and control technology results in an excellent performance according to experience. Numerous projects prove, that retrofit systems show better and more continuous long-term results than many comparable new machines.
Altracon also implemented a database system in their retrofit portfolio. Older machines and new machines may be both integrated in a data network, which is managed by a superior computer and allows comfortable data handling and storage as well as CATM to download test programs or recipes to the machines. The database system has a most modern interface and is of course adaptable to existing customer CATM-systems, which will move your laboratory up to newest data management standards independent from the age of your machines. It is furthermore a huge advantage if requirements of valid quality management standards must be met.

Spare parts

Another advantage of the Altracon concept is the open market spare parts supply during the years of operation after the retrofit of the machinery. The specific local situation of technology and spare parts availability is considered to equip the machine for the retrofit. The hitherto costly OEM dependence regarding supply of service and spare parts delivery will be reduced to a minimum by the change to local availability and market standards.
A wide range of services including remote service and the integration of the customer’s own service personnel, delivers a comprehensive and customer-oriented solution.
With over 35 years of experience in the field of industrial machinery retrofitting, the solution provider Altracon has focused on the modernization of testing systems in the automotive- and in particular the tire- industries. More than one hundred test stands were retrofitted worldwide during the years, and the majority of tire manufacturers rely on this highly economic solution to modernize their R&D test equipment and to keep them up to date. Especially with large test fields it is certainly the most profitable way to improve their performance. Retrofitting is obviously much more than just a service. However, financially it is handled as such. It usually does not need a long budgeting process and is in general independent from the make of the machine.
All this makes retrofitting of machinery so attractive and highly satisfied customers around the globe, who boosted their labs, are proof to Altracon’s slogan: “Second Life – Retrofit”

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