When Robern Menz decided to upgrade its production facility, it needed an accurate way of measuring the levels of chocolate in their holding tanks. VEGA resolved the issue.
Hipex is a company that specialises in equipment for the food and beverage industry and therefore expects a high standard of service and quality when it comes to instrumentation.
One of its specialties is making pilot plants for companies so they can trial new products under real working conditions. Doing so saves companies money as they don’t have to shut down production lines to trial the production runs, and it allows them to make errors without having to waste a batch of produce.
Hipex mechanical engineer Jay Edward is at the cutting edge of the research and development aspects of these mini plants. He knows the intricacies involved in making these plants work and how the machinery and equipment used to build them has to be top of the range.
“It’s quite complex mimicking a production-scale plant on a tiny pilot plant. It is not without many complications. Most off the shelf components and instruments are designed for much larger capacities than we handle in our range of Mini plants. We had one instance when we made a plant for the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. We had a little batch tank and we needed level adjustment and control within the batch tank.
However, it had an agitator, it had steam, both pressure and vacuum at various stages of the process – all sorts of complications that would affect any instrumentation,” he said.
To solve the issue Edward contacted instrumentation specialist VEGA, who offered up a solution.
“It was the VEGAPULS 64 sensor that has this really great function in that it could learn to ignore the agitator so it didn’t affect the results,” said Edward. “It worked extremely well. It was a very small plant, but the whole system was complex and expensive. It went off without a hitch. Because it is an R&D device, the Department had people coming in from all over the place trialling products. With new operators all the time it had to be accurate, repeatable and reliable. It got a lot of publicity.”
VEGA’s area manager, Geoff Agg, who looks after the Hipex account, knew straight away how the company could help.
“It was really small pilot plant – the size of a kitchen table,” said Agg. “The 80Ghz liquid radar VEGAPULS 64 was a perfect solution for the application. As Jay said, it had steam, there were agitators in there, there was Sterilise in Place (SIP) involved at a high temperature. Once the radar was in place, it could adapt to all those different changes. There was a vacuum, liquid boiling, an agitator, and the aforementioned SIP, which took temperatures up to 135˚C – it could handle the temperature. Having an agitator spinning around meant we had to do false signal suppressions. It dealt with all those issues they had inside the vessel.”
“We did shop around and we looked at every possible way we could solve this problem,” said Edward. “The VEGAPULS 64 was the only one that did the job. It would not have been done without the radar. There were a set of conditions that couldn’t be met by any other traditional product.”
One of the reasons it is critical that the instrument met the specifications is that Hipex is an OEM, which means not only are local companies its competition, but overseas corporations are, too.
“A reasonable percentage of our business is export,” said Edward. “We compete with many of the international companies, both here and abroad. We do get a calls for local support, especially in these times we’re are in at the moment, so we can’t wait on responses from an overseas head office. Local support and product knowledge is key to our support and ultimately our customers’ success.”
A key factor in Hipex continually turning to VEGA for its products is that there is immediate support and comprehensive local knowledge about the complex instrumentation they offer. Overseas training of local specialists is key in this regard. Edward cites many examples where a lack of knowledge locally has resulted in delayed response’s to customer queries.
“Not only has VEGA been excellent with their support, but a comprehensive range of high quality instruments means that they are able to cover almost all of our needs,” said Edward.
Hipex has a lot of transmitters out in the field, which is why they require high quality products, local support that can respond in a timely fashion and a customer oriented organisation with the ability to provide backup.
When people think of VEGA, they look at it as the BMW of instrumentation – quality, but at a price. But VEGA can also develop Hyundai’s. We also develop ranges that are cost-effective, entry level products.”
So said John Leadbetter, senior managing director of VEGA Australia, when talking about the VEGAPOINT range of point level switches aimed at the food and beverage markets. VEGA has a reputation as a producer of high-quality instrumentation, so for one of its products to have a starting price of $240 is not what some would expect, but there are several reasons for this according to Leadbetter.
“When we surveyed our customers, when they think of VEGA, they look at us as a higher end manufacturer of instrumentation,” he said. “However, we also develop ranges that are cost-effective, entry level products.
“The other thing that we are mindful of is that the Asian market is developing products at 1/10th of the price of the US and European markets.
“That is why when we sat down three years ago to develop new products, we decided to aim them at the cost-conscious industry. And the food and beverage industry is cost conscious and one we didn’t have a big presence in. We needed to change that.”
Even Leadbetter’s own sales team asked him how VEGA could make a product so cheaply.
“I said, ‘go back to the year 2000, how much did you pay for a television?’,” he said. “Back then big plasmas and LEDs could be up $15,000. Today, you’d pay less than $1,000. The more we get advanced the cheaper the product becomes.
“When we look at a lot of products these days, like a mobile phone, the technologies get better and better. The prices come down because of the competitive nature of those things. It is a natural progression. I won’t say we were tunnel visioned, but we were caught up in part of the market that we do very well in. We kept walking past other markets and wishing we had something for that. Now we have. What it has done for us around the world, it has given our guys a new lease of life, because we now have new customers to visit.”
However, just because something is cost effective does not mean build has been compromised. Leadbetter knows that even though VEGA is aiming its products at a new market, quality is still king.
“The VEGAPOINT’s body is 316 stainless steel,” he said. “When you look at it, you see VEGA quality. We’re not talking about something that weighs 50g, we are talking about a decent amount of weight because of the metal in there.”
One of the industries that VEGA is targeting within food and beverage is microbreweries, an industry that has ramped up its footprint in the beverage space over the past decade.
VEGAPOINT’s key feature is to see through the viscosity and grime that can cover a switch when it is in a vat, to give process managers accurate information when it is needed, such as the level of product – something that microbreweries would know all about. Leadbetter illustrates how it works.
“I’ll use the example of honey,” said Leadbetter. “When you dip something in honey and you pull it back out there is a coating of honey on it. The way these switches work traditionally is you put it in, it switches, then you pull it out but it remains switched because the front of the switch is covered in honey residue. As far as it is concerned it is still immersed in the honey. With VEGAPOINT, we have given it a feature where you can push another button on your iPad and say, ‘that is called build-up’ and once it churns that out, your switch goes back to off again.
“In a real life situation, when you are dealing with sticky or adhesive type products, build-up on the face of your probe is a natural occurrence. We can take away that annoying switch problem that most switch probes have.”
Another feature of these switches is that they have I/O link capability, which is important when it comes to process workers wanting to communicate with the device.
“The I/O link is giving them information constantly so their system’s re-evaluating and monitoring, everything,” said Leadbetter. “It’ll give information like, ‘ok, bin 101 looks like it has a deterioration in performance,’ or, ‘looks like we have more build up in that product than we normally have. Do we have a blend mixture problem?’
“A plant manager can access the information via their mobile phone. They can look at the performance, change the settings without ever interrupting the cycle. I didn’t think five years ago I’d be programming something with a mobile phone. What we have done is taken the simplistic, overcome a problem, and made it futuristic.”
Customer reaction has been great, said Leadbetter, but there has been an issue outside the control of VEGA – something that is affecting most businesses.
“Feedback has been brilliant. However, we released it in late January and early February. We sent demonstration back packs to all the sales reps around the world, which had the VEGAPOINT with batteries and all the other gear to show customers. Then, on the March 13 the world shut down, so we were fighting COVID,” he said.
Like a lot of companies, a little bit of a lateral thinking has gone a long way. Early on, when COVID-19 first hit, the VEGA team came up with the VEGAPOINT challenge, whereby the company’s sales reps around the world were challenged to upload a one-minute video on LinkedIn that showed an array of applications for the device.
“With restrictions, they were not able to go to different sites, so a lot of it has been done on the kitchen table or bathroom or laundry or whatever,” said Leadbetter. “What this exercise highlighted was that we’ve got a little bit of sleeping giant with this product.”
As well as having FDA approval, there are also a lot of adaptors that can be fitted to the device so they can be used in a variety of applications within the food and beverage industry. Leadbetter said the VEGA team is looking forward to offering problem-solving solutions to the food and beverage industry.
“At the end of the day, we were saying to people that they were wanting to get rid of a certain problem, but they don’t want to spend $5,000 doing it,” he said. “Now they have something that is $240, that with a little bit of self-tuning, you have got rid of any annoying issue.”
With its new compact series of VEGABAR pressure sensors and VEGAPOINT level switches, VEGA has now advanced to full-range supplier for all applications in food production. These instruments are aimed at standard applications in automation – and designed to meet the latest requirements of the industry.
The quality demands on food are higher today than ever before with it becoming a matter of course to be able to choose freely from a variety of foods every day. Products are being manufactured more according to individual tastes, which makes faster batch changes necessary. Consumers trust that everything is safe and hygienic at all times – and rarely think about the extensive network of safety measures that make it possible. Intelligent system design is one of them. It supports the reliability, efficiency and hygiene of manufacturing processes – with the help of hi-tech sensors and their reliable measured values.
On the basis of the modular plics instrument series, level and pressure instrumentation from VEGA has been making a contribution to safety and efficiency in the food industry for many decades. The compatible design and standardised adjustment concept create flexible application possibilities and allow individual configuration − from selection of the right measuring principle, to installation and setup, to service. Operators benefit from fast product changes, continuous plant availability and process reliability.
New standard sensors with a focus on hygiene
Just like other sectors, the food industry does not seek extreme solutions, but, in many areas, just simple optimisation and efficiency improvement. Here, less is usually more. VEGA has expanded its product range to include a compact instrument series. It proves that automation can be both simple and highly efficient without sacrificing dependability, hygiene or accuracy.
Standard applications, in particular, can be automated economically with the new compact pressure sensors and level switches. Integration into the system, as well as adjustment, are easy to carry out. In this performance class, multi-device connection options are also available, which supports the continuous improvement of production facilities. The focus here is on compactness, flexibility, safety and optimised hygiene.
The new VEGABAR and VEGAPOINT instrument series are the answer to the growing demand for simple sensors with optimised variants that support increasingly efficient food production. This requires more standardised products that are as easy as possible to use but still cover all the basic hygiene requirements. It also calls for better networked products with easy connectivity to existing control systems and mobile devices.
Standardisation gives birth to efficiency
A uniform standard extends through all areas of application. This applies especially to the fully hygienic adapter system, which is designed to be compatible with the new sensors and capacitive level switches as well as the existing VEGASWING vibrating level switches.
Not only can it be flexibly selected according to individual needs, but also adapted to local requirements and – if necessary – quickly exchanged. All the new instruments are built to withstand intense clean in place(CIP) processes. And not least due to their hygienic design and surface finish, they comply with all standards and approvals of the industry.
The acid test of CIP cleaning
Time is becoming an increasingly important factor in food production processes, and hygienic production in particular requires a lot of it. CIP cleaning is one of the most necessary but time-consuming process steps. The potential for savings here lies in cleaning and sterilising systems more quickly, through consistent hygiene standards and system design. However, this assumes that the cleaning process can be fully relied upon once completed. And this in turn requires components whose geometry does not allow microorganisms to collect in dead spaces and which are also capable of withstanding the cleaning and sterilisation processes themselves.
Processes and media that demand a lot from the materials of the measuring instruments are, for example, substances with a high fat content as well as aromatics. The consequential aggressive cleaning agents required also make correspondingly high chemical resistance necessary. The VEGABAR and VEGAPOINT instruments are resistant to both demands. The pressure sensors and level switches can tolerate high temperatures without loss of function, and even cope with the combination of both high temperature and long exposure times.
Hygienic design down to the last detail
What does “Hygienic by Design” mean? In real terms it can be seen even in the smallest components of the new sensor series. All surfaces of VEGABAR 29 and 39 sensors that come into contact with the product are made of stainless steel and feature optimal surface roughness values. What is more, VEGABAR 28 and 38 are available with high-strength ceramic versions and VEGAPOINT sensors in high-resistant PEEK material.
All materials are approved and tested according to FDA and EC 1935/2004. The design of the instruments is certified according to the European EHEDG Directive and the North American 3-A Sanitary Standards. Both standards prescribe the use of corrosion-resistant materials only and the components are also designed in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practices regulations so that all micro-organisms are reliably removed by cleaning and cannot multiply on surfaces or in gaps.
Visible all around: illuminated 360-degree switching status display
Sensors are often used in very large spacious areas or in tight spaces. The effort involved in reading a sensor quickly becomes considerable when a hygiene barrier has to be overcome. However, it is crucial to be able to see sensor readings quickly and easily, so that operators can react as quickly as possible, especially in the event of a fault.
To ensure that the status of a process can be recognised at a glance from as far away as possible and from any direction, the development of the new sensors focused on simple handling – and the fast and easy readability that comes along with it. Thanks to the round, 360-degree display, all switching states can be visually detected from any direction. The colour of the illuminated ring, which can be freely selected from 256 different colours, remains visible even in daylight. This allows the operator to choose the colour that is best visible in that particular environment, and it is up to the operator to choose the colour that best suits their needs and offers maximum additional safety and distinguishability in critical situations. It immediately shows the user if measurement is taking place, if the sensor is switching, or if there is a possible malfunction in the process.
Fit for the future with IO-Link
In their maintenance decisions, plant operators rely on status data, which forms the basis for optimal planning of shutdown times. Almost all system builders now implement intelligent sensors with IO technology for this, as it offers universal advantages when it comes to data availability. Not only can these be quickly and cost-effectively installed using standard three-core cable, but, with IO-Link, sensors can also be replaced without the risk of errors. The system can be put into operation faster with the standard protocol, which reduces production downtime.
The option of having all sensor parameters written automatically into the new instrument by the IO-Link master, or the controller during a replacement, also makes for additional efficiency. Fast format or recipe changes, which are typical in the food industry, can be carried out quickly and centrally in this way. The bottom line is that using IO-Link saves time while reducing the potential for errors to zero. This ensures higher product quality, more optimal utilisation of the machines and increased process speed.
Wireless transmission of measured values
Both the VEGABAR and VEGAPOINT instrument series can be easily read out and configured with a smartphone or tablet. Especially in environments such as clean rooms, where physical access involves a lot of effort, it means setup and operation become faster and easier. In combination with the VEGA Tools app, which has already won an App Award, the sensor data enquiry over shorter distances in these areas also becomes convenient.
Future-oriented automation from a single source
Hygienic design, system availability, modularisation and networking are the decisive factors for greater efficiency in food processes and for standing out in the face of growing competition. With its decades of experience, VEGA offers level and pressure measurement technology for the automation and monitoring of future-oriented production systems. It has sensors optimised for operating under extreme conditions and meeting strict requirements on system safety and flexibility.
Because of the increasing requirement for standard applications and open control platforms, VEGA has added these compact pressure sensors and level switches into its portfolio to help meet this. The new instruments are tailored to these standard applications that nevertheless involve high quality.
The universal adapter system of these compact devices provides the flexibility needed to keep inputs and costs at a minimum level through optimised spare parts stock-keeping. This provides process fittings that can be selected “off the shelf” and adapted directly to individual requirements.
There is also a great deal of sensor intelligence on board – the standard IO-Link protocol ensures especially simple, intelligent communication. The wireless communication provides easy and fast access and setup.
This means that the instruments have a multi-layer communication platform that enables seamless data transfer and simple integration into control systems. They are prepared for the production processes of the future – and are already making their contribution to the implementation of Industry 4.0.
When there are troubled times within an industry, it’s nice to know that help is at hand if things start to go wrong. With an unprecedented lockdown within Australia’s borders, there are still essential services that have to work through the COVID-19 pandemic. Alongside emergency services, food and beverage processing and manufacturing is vital in keeping Australians fed and watered.
A key to keeping manufacturing moving is making sure plant and machinery is in tip-top shape, and if there are issues, they are solved quickly and easily.
VEGA is one company that has been supplying German-manufactured, high-quality products to the food and beverage industry for a long time. Like most companies, they are adapting to the new climate pretty quickly and have people on the ground in most states and territories.
“We’ve got three in Western Australia, one that covers South Australia and the Northern Territory, three in Queensland, five – including two service guys – in New South Wales, and two in Victoria,” said VEGA service manager, John Coulton. “I support them by phone and also Zoom video and remote support if need be. Internationally, we have a 24-hour hotline and if a call comes to my mobile during Australian daylight hours, or if there are issues interstate, I will discuss with the BDM and work out an action plan taking into consideration travel restrictions in the present environment.”
VEGA is using a few strategies to help clients when it comes to troubleshooting. While it is ideal to be on the ground, with lockdown laws in place, other methods have been adopted.
“We’ve got everybody on Zoom, so that is our main way to support the industry in terms of our service and sales team to help with any issues remotely,” said Alex Mazor, VEGA’s marketing manager. “We are available to help customers with product settings, adjustments and diagnostics. Also, we’re remotely assisting our customers by being able to access VEGA software platforms such as PACTware using a remote function via IOS, Android and PC devices, so that helps them with any set up, product demo or backend configurations.
“Our service and sales team have a wealth of experience and utilising Zoom for them as been really central, especially when it comes to reassuring our customers that it is business as usual for VEGA.”
Coulton gives a practical example of how this assistance works in for both VEGA and the client.
“We have a bagging company that is a client who bought two new radars from us and they tried to set them up themselves but didn’t have much success,” he said. “So, the client set up the PACTware software package, and sent us some echo curves and that helped tell us what the issue was.”
PACTware is utilised similarly to a depth sounder in a boat. It gives users a graphical representation of what the radar can help them see, said Coulton.
“He was in the Riverina, so we connected to his computer via Team Viewer, and we saw what was happening albeit on a smaller scale. We got drawings of the silo, so we knew what we were looking at. As you would expect the bagging system had a big taper, so it wasn’t a straight forward job. It took us two days to help set up the two different silos – we did one during one morning and the next one after that. We told the client what he needed to do in terms of aiming the radar – which is similar to aiming a torch and seeing where you shine it – and fixed the problem. We were seeing it live even though we were not there. With our experience, we were able to fix it.”
Another example of support with the same software package comes with what VEGA calls a service recording. The customer does not have to understand what the issue is or to look at it. All they have to do is connect it up to the sensor, which starts recording all the data – such as the parameters, echo curves, trends and an event model – and they can email that information to Coulton.
“I’ll take it home and a have a look at it and help them fix the issue,” he said. “If it was something like the bagging issue, it might be that it is playing up where they’re filling it, and they need to do several changes to fix it. While he is doing these changes, I’m looking at it at the same time as him and helping him solve the problem. I treat it like it is a training exercise for them, as well as fixing the problem.”
VEGA Tools App
One piece of technology that the company is utilising is the VEGA tools app, which can be used on either an iPhone/iPad or Android mobile phone.
“In the old days there were two ways of setting up an instrument – either pressing a button on the top or a laptop. Now its Bluetooth, so the customer can pull out their iPhone or iPad or android device, and use the VEGA tools app. They don’t need a laptop anymore,” said Coulton. “I was up at a mine in the Pilbara for a couple of weeks doing a training course.
We did an exercise where the foreman decided to invite some of the young technicians who utilise a device, we call a hockey puck, which is connected to their phones via Bluetooth. They put it the puck on the sensor and put the information onto their iPhone and they sent me a screen shot of the problem. As with this exercise and in real instances, nine times out of ten we can fix the issue if we can see what the issue is. It gives clients another tool to fix a problem.”
With Zoom, VEGA has gone a little bit further. The customer can have their phone on them, start the VEGA tools app, have all the settings ready, and can have a Zoom meeting and can show Coulton the problem that has occurred via mirroring.
“John can mirror his phone with Zoom and diagnose the problem,” said Mazor. “It takes screen shots to the next level. The customer can see what is happening and so can John and can diagnose or change settings that way remotely. The sales team can work in tandem doing the same. It really just takes troubleshooting and support to the whole next level. You can screen share to the service team using any IOS or Android and PC devices. That is going to be really critical and we are utilising the technology as much as we can to reassure customers that we are there for them.”
VEGA is also doing product demonstrations live through Zoom, setting up a scenario where the company can go through the product with clients.
While the circumstances in which they work might have changed, the amount of support the company offers has not.
With the introduction of the plics family almost 18 years ago, Vega turned the vision of simple, standardised measurement of level and pressure into reality.
The Vegabar 80 series represents a systematic further development of the concept and the products.
The clear structure of the new instrument series ensures easy selection when looking for the right instrument for a particular application.
The new handling with “quick start” procedure allows fast, simple and reliable setup and commissioning. The integrated diagnostics system makes fast maintenance and servicing possible.
Making three from five
With the new Vegabar 80 series, all conceivable applications can be covered with only three process pressure transmitters. There is the all-rounder Vegabar 82 with ceramic measuring cell, which can cover 80 per cent of all applications. Then there is the Vegabar 83 with metallic measuring cell that is designed for high-pressure applications.
Finally, there is the classic Vegabar 81 with chemical seal, which is deployed when high temperature and/or chemical resistance is required.
Ceramic versus metallic
A lot has happened in the development of both metallic and ceramic measuring cells in recent years.
The biggest leaps in technology, however, are being experienced by the ceramic measuring cell CERTEC. Only a few suppliers have ceramic-capacitive cells in their portfolio, and fewer still have the know-how to produce them themselves. Eighty per cent of all units sold operate with ceramic sensors.
In principle, both technologies can be used in the majority of applications. But the company is convinced that in many cases ceramic is the better technology, because it is more robust and durable.
Nothing can shock them
Ceramic measuring cells have many advantages, but also some weaknesses. For example, they are susceptible to thermal shock and moisture. Through intensive further development of CERTEC, both of these problems could be reduced or even eliminated altogether.
Equipping Vegabar 82 with temperature-shock compensation resulted in a technological masterpiece. A patent for this worldwide innovation is awaiting approval.
When sudden temperature changes occur, it can take several minutes before sensors with ceramic measuring cells begin delivering reliable readings again. Often, users do not know that a sensor is experiencing a temperature shock, which means it is transmitting incorrect values.
With the ceramic measuring cell in Vegabar 80, customers can be sure that they are getting correct measurement data.
Because now, even fast temperature changes cannot affect the pressure measurement.
In addition to the usual temperature sensor on the backside of CERTEC, there is a second sensor in the glass joint directly behind the ceramic diaphragm – this sensor is mounted in a technically challenging process.
Due to its exposed position, it doesn’t miss even the slightest temperature change.
Any thermal shock is fully compensated by means of a sophisticated algorithm.
A side benefit of the second sensor directly next to the process is a temperature measurement of high quality, with an accuracy of ± 2 K.
Earlier versions of the measuring cell could also output a temperature signal.
However, due to its slowness, the sensor was only suitable for storage tanks, which normally have a stable temperature.
In many applications, installation of a separate temperature sensor can be eliminated.
Moisture? No problem
The typical moisture sensitivity could also be lowered. The problem with the naked electrodes of capacitive system – ingressing dielectric fluid, such as water – changes the dielectric constant and the capacitance, and therefore the pressure reading. However, the instrument cannot distinguish the reason for the change in capacitance. The solution? In the new instrument generation, Vega has applied a measurement and a reference capacitor and covered the entire surface of the measuring cell with a thin layer of glass.
Due to the glass passivation, there is no longer any contact with the medium, which means the dielectric constant in the entire system changes – for both the measurement and the reference capacitances.
A coefficient is then formed from the two values and then computationally balanced for the measuring result.
Another special feature of the Vega ceramic is its high overload resistance of up to factor 200 – more than double what other ceramics are able to provide.
Progress has also been made with regard to the temperature range.
Until recently, 120°C was the limit with the standard version, but CERTEC can now withstand temperatures up to 130°C. These additional 10°C are especially interesting for the food and pharmaceutical industry because, in many cases, customers no longer have to buy the high-temperature version for their sterilisation processes.
Application temperatures have increased in relatively small steps, but when it comes to extending the measuring ranges, Vega has put on a pair of proverbial “seven-league boots”.
Vegabar 82 has a tiny measuring range of only 25 mbar (previously 100 mbar). And that is without electronic turndown.
The measuring range has also increased in the upward direction, from 60 to 100 bar.
This has extended the application limits. Customers will be able to solve more applications with the standard Vegabar 82 sensor in the future.
No such thing as impossible
CERTEC is the only ceramic measuring cell on the market that allows absolute front-flush mounting, as its radial seal is recessed and protected from the medium.
It can bring this advantage to bear especially in abrasive applications. Build-up is also said to be a thing of the past. This is because the sensor is capable of cleaning itself in the flowing medium.
Safe, reliable operation
Another key topic is the second line of defence. This feature is indispensable, for example, in phosgene applications, in order to prevent the toxic medium from penetrating into the terminal compartment and endangering people and the environment. At present, customers have to resort to encapsulated absolute pressure transmitters with special chemical seal assembly.
Vegabar 82/83 is a fully welded sensor module with a second line of defence, which, in combination with climate compensated electronics, can reliably and accurately measure relative pressure even in such applications.
This unique innovation allows high measurement accuracy to be achieved also with small process fittings.
Reliable and stable measurement data is one of the most important features of a pressure measurement setup.
Vegabar 80 with Safe Integrity Level (SIL) differs from a standard instrument both in hardware and in software.
Vegabar 80 with SIL is a separate instrument developed according to the guidelines of IEC 61508. In single-channel systems, Vegabar 80 can be implemented up to SIL2, and in homogeneously redundant systems even up to SIL3 via the software.
Electronic differential pressure
An innovative software and hardware concept makes it possible to combine any two instruments from the Vegabar 80 family, whether all-rounder, high-pressure or high-temperature sensor, into an electronic differential pressure system. What does this mean in practice?
An example is that a customer only has to take a Vegabar 82, a standard instrument that he or she has in stock anyway, order an additional sensor, select the “slave” electronics version and connect them together.
That is all that is needed to be done. Users benefit from simple selection, identical adjustment and operation as well as simplified stocking.
There are many other features of the electronic differential pressure system.
This includes there are no oil-filled capillary tubes that need to be insulated – usually at great cost – to avoid environmental influences, such as temperature changes or strong vibration and the resulting measurement errors. And oil-filled chemical seal assemblies are usually expensive.
If a customer adds everything up, an electronic differential pressure system is not only a simple solution but also a more cost-effective one for their business.
Vega is the only supplier on the market that has a solution with ceramic sensors in its portfolio.
The use of the radar level transmitter for the process industry started back in 1991. These were extremely large units and operated with a 6GHz frequency. The units were sold generally into liquid applications and were only ever considered when no other technology would work. They were a large unit weighing in at several kilograms and operated only from an AC supply.
In 1997 Vega released the world’s first true loop powered radar level transmitter, offering a more suitable transmitter for typical process applications. But once again they came with their limitations. 1999 saw the 26 GHz radar level transmitter being released, offering a smaller unit with a reduced antenna size and narrower beam angle (a downside to lower frequencies is the larger beam angle).
Vega continued to develop and improve radar level transmitter performances through the first decade of 2000. The main changes were in the software area where, thanks to customer feedback, the parameters for setup were improved and made much more descriptive and user friendly.
As with all developments you reach a point where the components and physics of the technology have been maximised. At this stage, Vega started research on the 80 GHz frequency range. This frequency was not new to the market as it was and still is quite common in the automotive industry with reversing sensors.
During the research and development of this frequency Vega carried out a number of real-life customer trials and the results of these opened up many more opportunities for the use of the radar that had never been practical before. It also allowed, for the first time, antenna sizing and adaption to many typical process fittings that exist in the industry. One of the things to note with regard to radar frequencies is that, as you increase the frequency, the antenna size and the beam angle reduce.
Radar level transmitters work on the reflection of the signal from the product being measured, and the strength of that returned signal is based in the Dielectric Constant (conductivity). So, in the past, they were not considered suitable for applications that have a relatively low DK value radar. 80 GHz now allowed these measurements to take place, but, of course, there are other considerations.
As well as the high frequency, you also need quality components that provie you very good sensitivity or dynamic range as it is commonly known as. Typically, up to this point, radar level transmitters had a dynamic range of around 90 db – that is, until the VEGAPULS 64 (liquids) and the VEGAPULS 69 (solids) were developed. Vega had manufactured a radar level transmitter with a dynamic range of 120 db. So what does this mean? Well, as with audio, for every increase of 3 db you get a doubling of the power. An increase of 30 db over the previous and existing radar frequencies achieve an increase of over 1000 times in the sensitivity of the Vega 80GHz radar level transmitters. For this increase Vega transmitters were now able to measure extremely low DK products such as plastics.
Radar level transmitters, like all instruments, do have their limitations, and many limitations are set by the physics of the technology. It is very important to take into account not just the frequency, but all the data, when evaluating whether a transmitter is suitable for the application. At Vega, 80 GHz has proven to be a large step forward in solving difficult applications, but the company has developed a model for liquid applications and a model for solids applications, as different algorithms for the types of process medium are needed.
Radar level transmitters are now a very accepted form of non-contact level measurement and the use of these units has increased by many times over the past decade. But as with all developments, this one has not yet finished, and Vega is continuing to improve the transmitters. The company said that, in the near future, it will again break through barriers and open up opportunities for radar to provide more solutions in industry applications.
Vega has released its new radar level transmitter for water-supply and sewage Industry, featuring a smaller-beam angle and an easy-to-use software interface.
The Vegapuls WL S 61 radar sensor is suitable for all simple applications in the water-supply and sewage industry. Featuring a wide range of mounting options, it is an especially cost-effective radar solution, as it can be readily integrated into new and existing installations.
Just as with the Vegapuls WL 61, which has been available for several years with a large installed base, the new Vegapuls WL S 61 offers a design optimised for use in the water-supply and sewage industry.
Radar technology offers numerous advantages compared with ultrasonic sensors, which used to be standard in this industry; radar is independent of weather influences, strong sun, wind, fog or rain. In addition, no compensation is needed for variations in the signal transmission time due to air temperature fluctuations.
With an accuracy of +/- 5mm, the Vegapuls WL S 61 covers a range of applications.
This sensor is suitable for level and flow measurement in water treatment plants. Its excellent focussing enables its use in pumping stations and rainwater overflow basins, for flow measurement in open channels, and for level monitoring.
The sensor’s robust housing is wear-free and maintenance-free, and its high degree of protection, IP68 (2 bar), also makes it suitable for applications where the sensor may be temporarily submerged. The unit complies with the latest LPR standard (Level Probing Radar) and is approved for open-air use without restrictions or special attachments.
Managing director of Vega, John Leadbetter, said that the radar sensor’s simple and easy-to-use features made it a good choice for companies working in the food and beverage sector.
“The benefits of this unit for this industry is that they are using a transmitter that has been specifically designed for the wastewater industry and which is simple to use and implement into existing systems,” Leadbetter said.
In its development of this new sensor for simple measurement tasks, Vega drew on its many years of experience as there are over 40,000 Vegapuls WL 61 sensors already used worldwide in the water-supply industry.
A new feature is Bluetooth wireless operation from a smartphone or tablet (and/or a PC with PACTware) when combined with a Bluetooth USB adapter – this makes commissioning and diagnostics even simpler. Corresponding display and signal processing units enable the display of measurements and provide the relay outputs needed, for example, to control a pump.
“One of the main advantages of the Bluetooth functionality is that the app is free to obtain and the customer does not need any specific tools to access the transmitters parameters,” Leadbetter said.
In processing facilities in the chemical, pharmaceutical and energy industries, the main focus today, more than ever, is on “safety”.
That is why Safety Integrity Level (SIL) is becoming more important, providing modern process instrumentation with a coherent concept that can minimise potentially high risks to people and the environment.
Reliable measurement, easy integration
VEGADIF 85, a differential pressure transmitter developed especially with safety in mind, is Vega’s new component for reliable, continuous control and monitoring of industrial processes.
Its strengths lie not only in functional safety, but also in the option of measuring differential and static pressure simultaneously with just one instrument. Housed in a compact single-chamber case, the transmitter is designed for economic efficiency and installation with low space requirements.
These features are flanked by particularly simple, intelligent operation – a real plus in terms of error avoidance.
VEGADIF 85 is qualified and approved according to SIL-2 (SIL-3) for manufacturing processes that depend on certified components, simple, user-friendly operation and permanently transparent processes.
It can be parameterised via cable connection, as well as wirelessly via Bluetooth. Its measured values can be integrated into the existing processes quickly – always in a form suitable to the respective conditions and requirements.
Unaffected by steam
Differential pressure, a robust and universal measuring principle, is used in many processes, especially for gases or steam.
The pressure difference is determined by means of an orifice disc that narrows the flow in a pipe at a predetermined point. Flowing steam, or gas, builds up a higher pressure in front of the constriction point than behind it.
The difference between the two values – before and after the restriction – can be used to deduce the absolute quantity of gas that flows through.
Differential pressure transmitters are characterised by their high accuracy in measuring flow rates, even at pressures of only a few mbar.
They also handle extreme temperatures with no problem. Vega rounds out these advantages with a large number of available measuring ranges.
Many different process fittings are available in conjunction with single- or double-sided chemical seals: denoted as CSS or CSB respectively. With this high-performance line of products, highly accurate, fail-safe measurements can be realised even under challenging conditions.
Differential and static pressure with one instrument
VEGADIF 85 sensors are equipped with a second, piezoresistive detector.
They are thus the first transmitters of their kind that can measure both differential pressure and static pressure. And they can easily handle these two different measuring tasks in parallel.
For example, they ensure a high degree of fail-safety in pipelines by determining the dynamic pressure and the superimposed static pressure at the same time – a measuring task that used to require two separate pressure transmitters.
Where Bluetooth makes sense
There are many ways to simplify processes. However, it is important to strike the right balance between safety and convenience.
Wireless data transmission can offer real added value in cases where access to data is difficult.
With intuitive, simplicity, Bluetooth makes operation more flexible via smartphone, tablet or PC and provides transparency in wide-ranging applications.
Bluetooth is now available as an option for the new generation of differential pressure transmitters.
Since it is part of the tried-and-trusted modular Vega instrument platform plics, it implements safety precautions at various levels already proven in the field.
These include current encryption modes at the interface level, such as via PC or smartphone, as well as the necessary access codes that protect the sensor from unauthorised access.
Bluetooth is also something for older systems: the current display and adjustment module PLICSCOM is downward compatible for the majority of Vega measuring instruments manufactured since
2002 and now operating in the field.
In process engineering applications, pressure transmitters have to withstand environments where flammable gases, vapours or mists can escape from closed systems. Under certain conditions, with oxygen from the air mixed in the right proportion, there is a great risk of explosion.
The electronics used in VEGADIF 85 are 100 per cent intrinsically safe and flameproof according to ATEX, IECEx and CSA.
This means that the instruments can be safely adjusted at any time, even during operation in hazardous areas, which is ideal for the food processing industry.