Simulating agricultural climate change scenarios.

19/09/2017
Extreme weather, believed to result from climate change and increased atmospheric CO2 levels, is a concern for many. And beyond extreme events, global warming is also expected to impact agriculture.(Charlotte Observer, 7 Sept 2017)

Although it is expected that climate change will significantly affect agriculture and cause decreases in crop yields, the full effects of climate change on agriculture and human food supplies are not yet understood. (1, 2 & 3 below)

Simulating a Changing Climate
To fully understand the effects that changes in temperature, CO2, and water availability caused by climate change may have on crop growth and food availability, scientists often employ controlled growth chambers to grow plants in conditions that simulate the expected atmospheric conditions at the end of the century. Growth chambers enable precise control of CO2 levels, temperature, water availability, humidity, soil quality and light quality, enabling researchers to study how plant growth changes in elevated CO2 levels, elevated temperatures, and altered water availability.

However, plant behavior in the field often differs significantly from in growth chambers. Due to differences in light quality, light intensity, temperature fluctuations, evaporative demand, and other biotic and abiotic stress factors, the growth of plants in small, controlled growth chambers doesn’t always adequately reflect plant growth in the field and the less realistic the experimental conditions used during climate change simulation experiments, the less likely the resultant predictions will reflect reality.3

Over the past 30 years, there have been several attempts to more closely simulate climate change growing scenarios including open top chambers, free air CO2 enrichment, temperature gradient tunnels and free air temperature increases, though each of these methods has significant drawbacks.

For example, chamber-less CO2 exposure systems do not allow rigorous control of gas concentrations, while other systems suffer from “chamber effects” included changes in wind velocity, humidity, temperature, light quality and soil quality.3,4

Recently, researchers in Spain have reported growth chamber greenhouses and temperature gradient greenhouses, designed to remove some of the disadvantages of simulating the effects of climate change on crop growth in growth chambers. A paper reporting their methodology was published in Plant Science in 2014 and describes how they used growth chamber greenhouses and temperature gradient greenhouses to simulate climate change scenarios and investigate plant responses.3

Choosing the Right Growth Chamber
Growth chamber and temperature gradient greenhouses offer increased working area compared with traditional growth chambers, enabling them to work as greenhouses without the need for isolation panels, while still enabling precise control of CO2 concentration, temperature, water availability, and other environmental factors.

Such greenhouses have been used to study the potential effects of climate change on the growth of lettuce, alfalfa, and grapevine.

CO2 Sensors for Climate Change Research
For researchers to study the effects of climate change on plant growth using growth chambers or greenhouses, highly accurate CO2 measurements are required.

The Spanish team used the Edinburgh Sensors Guardian sensor in their greenhouses to provide precise, reliable CO2 measurements. Edinburg Sensors is a customer-focused provider of high-quality gas sensing solutions that have been providing gas sensors to the research community since the 1980s.3,5

The Guardian NG from Edinburgh Sensors provides accurate CO2 measurements in research greenhouses mimicking climate change scenarios. The Edinburgh Sensors Guardian NG provides near-analyzer quality continuous measurement of CO2 concentrations. The CO2 detection range is 0-3000 ppm, and the sensor can operate in 0-95% relative humidity and temperatures of 0-45 °C, making it ideal for use in greenhouses with conditions intended to mimic climate change scenarios.

Furthermore, the Guardian NG is easy to install as a stand-alone product in greenhouses to measure CO2, or in combination with CO2 controllers as done by the Spanish team in their growth control and temperature gradient greenhouses.4,6 Conclusions Simulating climate change scenarios in with elevated CO2 concentrations is essential for understanding the potential effects of climate change on plant growth and crop yields. Accurate CO2 concentration measurements are essential for such studies, and the Edinburgh Sensors Guardian NG is an excellent option for researchers building research greenhouses for climate change simulation.

References

  1. Walthall CL, Hatfield J, Backlund P, et al. ‘Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation.’ USDA Technical Bulletin 1935, 2012. Available from: http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=ge_at_reports
  2. https://www.co2.earth/2100-projections Accessed September 7th, 2017.
  3. Morales F, Pascual I, Sánchez-Díaz M, Aguirreolea J, Irigoyen JJ, Goicoechea N Antolín MC, Oyarzun M, Urdiain A, ‘Methodological advances: Using greenhouses to simulate climate change scenarios’ Plant Science 226:30-40, 2014.
  4. Aguirreolea J, Irigoyen JJ, Perez P, Martinez-Carrasco R, Sánchez-Díaz M, ‘The use of temperature gradient tunnels for studying the combined effect of CO2, temperature and water availability in N2 fixing alfalfa plants’ Annals of Applied Biology, 146:51-60, 2005.
  5. https://edinburghsensors.com/products/gas-monitors/guardian-ng/ Accessed September 7th, 2017.
@Edinst #PAuto #Food
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Measuring CO2 to optimise bulk storage of food.

24/07/2017

Meeting the food requirements of a growing global population is becoming increasingly difficult. Despite the need for additional food, it is estimated that 50-60% of grain is lost after harvesting, at a cost of about $1 trillion per year. (See note 1 below)

One of the major reasons for lost grain is spoilage due to mould or insect infestation during storage.2 To provide a constant supply of grain year-round, after grains are harvested they are often kept in long term storage. Maintaining the quality of stored grain is crucial, both to ensure the quality of the final food products, and to prevent economic losses for farmers.

Edinburgh Sensors GascardNG Sensor

Insects and moulds can grow in stored grain, and their ability to flourish depends on the temperature and moisture of the stored grain. Moulds are the most common cause of grain spoilage and can cause changes in the appearance and quality of stored grains. Some moulds can release toxic chemicals called mycotoxins which can suppress the immune system, reduce nutrient absorption, cause cancer, and even be lethal in high doses. It is therefore crucially important to prevent the presence of mycotoxins in food products.2

Monitoring Stored Grain
Farmers are advised to check their stored grain weekly for signs of spoilage.3 Traditionally, grains are checked visually and by odour. Grain sampling can allow earlier detection of insects and moulds, but these methods can be tedious and time-consuming. Rapid, simple methods are needed for early detection of spoilage and to prevent grain losses.2

When moulds and insects grow, and respire, they produce CO2, moisture and heat. Temperature sensors detect increases in temperature caused by mould growth or insect infestation, therefore indicating the presence of grain spoilage. However, they are not able to detect temperature increases caused by infestation unless the infestation is within a few meters of the sensors. CO2 sensors can detect the CO2 produced by moulds and insects during respiration. As the CO2 gas moves with air currents, CO2 sensors can detect infestations that are located further away from the sensor than temperature sensors. CO2 measurements are therefore an important part of the toolkit needed to monitor stored grain quality.2

Using CO2 Measurements to Detect Spoilage
CO2 monitoring can be used for early detection of spoilage in stored grains, and to monitor the quality of stored grains. Safe grain storage usually results in CO2 concentrations below 600 ppm, while concentrations of 600-1500 ppm indicate the onset of mould growth. CO2 concentrations above 1500 ppm indicate severe infestations and could represent the presence of mycotoxins.4

CO2 measurements can be taken easily, quickly and can detect infestations 3-5 weeks earlier than temperature monitoring. Once spoilage is detected, the manager of the storage facility can address the problem by aerating, turning, or selling the grain. Furthermore, CO2 measurements can aid in deciding which storage structure should be unloaded first.2

Research published by Purdue University and Kansas State University have confirmed that high CO2 levels detected by stationary and portable devices are associated with high levels of spoilage and the presence of mycotoxins.4,5 Furthermore, they compared the ability of temperature sensors and CO2 sensors in a storage unit filled with grain to detect the presence of a simulated ‘hot spot’ created using a water drip to encourage mould growth.

The CO2 concentration in the headspace of the storage unit showed a strong correlation with the temperature at the core of the hot spot, and the CO2 sensors were, therefore, able to detect biological activity. The temperature sensors were not able to detect the mould growth, despite being placed within 0.3-1 m of the hotspot.6

To enable efficient monitoring of grain spoilage accurate, reliable and simple to use CO2 detectors are required. Gascard NG Gas Detector from Edinburgh Sensors provide accurate CO2 measurements along with atmospheric data, enabling grain storage managers to make decisions with confidence.

The Gascard NG Gas Detector uses a proprietary dual wavelength infrared sensor to enable the long term, reliable measurement of CO2 over a wide range of concentrations and in temperatures ranging from 0-45 °C. Measurements are unaffected by humidity (0-95% relative humidity) and the onboard pressure and temperature sensors provide real-time environmental compensation, resulting in the most accurate CO2 concentration readings.

Conclusion
Easy, fast, and accurate CO2 concentration monitoring during grain storage can provide early detection of grain spoilage, resulting in reduced grain losses, higher quality stored grain, and lower mycotoxin levels. CO2 monitoring could save millions of dollars annually in the grain production industry.4


References

  1. Kumar D, Kalita P, Reducing Postharvest Losses during Storage of Grain Crops to Strengthen Food Security in Developing Countries. Foods 6(1):8, 2017.
  2. http://www.world-grain.com/Departments/Grain-Operations/2016/7/Monitoring-CO2-in-stored-grain.aspx?cck=1 Accessed May 25th, 2017.
  3. HGCA Grain storage guide for cereals and oilseeds, third edition, available from: https://cereals.ahdb.org.uk/media/490264/g52-grain-storage-guide-3rd-edition.pdf Accessed May 25th, 2017.
  4. Maier DE, Channaiah LH, Martinez-Kawas, A, Lawrence JS, Chaves EV, Coradi PC, Fromme GA, Monitoring carbon dioxide concentration for early detection of spoilage in stored grain. Proceedings of the 10th International Working Conference on Stored Product Protection, 425, 2010.
  5. Maier DE, Hulasare R, Qian B, Armstrong P, Monitoring carbon dioxide levels for early detection of spoilage and pests in stored grain. Proceedings of the 9th International Working Conference on Stored Product Protection PS10-6160, 2006.
  6. Ileleji KE, Maier DE, Bhat C, Woloshuk CP, Detection of a Developing Hot Spot in Stored Corn with a CO2 Sensor. Applied Engineering in Agriculture 22(2):275-289, 2006.

 


Continuous compliance with PLM.

27/07/2016
Adam Bannaghan, technical director of Design Rule, discusses the growing role of PLM in managing quality and compliance.

The advantages of product lifecycle management (PLM) software are widely understood; improved product quality, lower development costs, valuable design data and a significant reduction in waste. However, one benefit that does not get as much attention is PLM’s support of regulatory compliance.

Compliance-PLMNobody would dispute the necessity of regulatory compliance, but in the product development realm it certainly isn’t the most interesting topic. Regardless of its lack of glamour, failure to comply with industry regulations can render the more exciting advantages of PLM redundant.

From a product designer’s perspective, compliance through PLM delivers notable strategic advantages. Achieving compliance in the initial design stage can save time and reduce engineering changes in the long run. What is more, this design-for-compliance approach sets the bar for quality product development, creating a unified standard to which the entire workforce can adhere. What is more, the support of a PLM platform significantly simplifies the compliance process, especially for businesses operating in sectors with fast-changing or complicated regulations.

For example, AS/EN 9100, is a series of quality management guidelines for the aerospace sector, which are globally recognised, but set to change later this year. December 2016 is the target date for companies to achieve these new standards – a fast transition for those managing compliance without the help of dedicated software.

Similarly, the defence industry has its own standards to follow. ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) and EAR (Export Administration Regulations) are notoriously strict exporting standards, delivering both civil and criminal penalties to companies that fail to comply.

“Fines for ITAR violations in recent years have ranged from several hundred thousand to $100 million,” explained Kay Georgi, an import/export compliance attorney and partner at law firm Arent Fox LLP in Washington. “Wilful violations can be penalised by criminal fines, debarment, both of the export and government contracting varieties, and jail time for individuals.”

PLM across sectors
The strict nature of all these regulations is not limited to aerospace and defence however. Electrical, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and consumer goods are also subject to different, but equally stern, compliance rules.

Despite varying requirements across industries, there are a number of PLM options that support compliance on an industry-specific basis. Dassault Systèmes ENOVIA platform, for example, allows businesses to input compliance definition directly into the program. This ensures that, depending on the industry, the product is able to meet the necessary standards. As an intelligent PLM platform, ENOVIA delivers full traceability of the product development process, from conception right through to manufacturing.

For those in charge of managing compliance, access to this data is incredibly valuable, for both auditing and providing evidence to regulatory panels. By acquiring industry-specific modules, businesses can rest assured that their compliance is being managed appropriately for their sector – avoiding nasty surprises or unsuccessful compliance.

For some industry sectors, failure to comply can cause momentous damage, beyond the obvious financial difficulties and time-to-market delays you might expect. For sensitive markets, like pharmaceutical or food and beverage, regulatory failure can wreak havoc on a brand’s reputation. What’s more, if the uncompliant product is subject to a recall, or the company is issued with a newsworthy penalty charge, the reputational damage can be irreparable.

PLM software is widely regarded as an effective tool to simplify product design. However, by providing a single source of truth for the entire development process, the potential of PLM surpasses this basic function. Using PLM for compliance equips manufacturers with complete data traceability, from the initial stages of design, right through to product launch. What’s more, industry-specific applications are dramatically simplifying the entire compliance process by guaranteeing businesses can meet particular regulations from the very outset.

Meeting regulatory standards is an undisputed obligation for product designers. However, as the strategic and product quality benefits of design-for-compliance become more apparent, it is likely that complying through PLM will become standard practice in the near future.

#PLM @designruleltd #PAuto #Pharma #Food @StoneJunctionPR

Application for Mass flow measurements for those over 18 years old!

03/03/2015

When thinking of alcoholic products that are produced in Britain, a fine malt Whiskey may spring to mind or perhaps beer brewed in one of the numerous breweries that can be found dotted around the country. How many people however, would immediately think of Vodka?

English_VodkaWell, nestled in the Herefordshire countryside, the family run Chase distillery (entry only to over 18 year olds!) thinks a lot about Vodka, in fact it produces the award winning Chase Vodka which is the World’s first super premium English potato Vodka.

The entire process from seed to bottle takes place on the Chase estate ensuring that a close eye can be kept on all stages from growing the potatoes to distilling and bottling. It was at the distilling stage that Chase was looking for a flowmeter that was capable of measuring the flow rate of fermented potato mash. After careful consideration, they decided on Krohne’s OPTIMASS 1300 Coriolis mass flowmeter.

The fermentation process is started with the mashing of potatoes and the addition of a brewer’s yeast. After about a week, the fermented potato mash is distilled four times in a bespoke copper batch pot and then twice more in a rectification column. It is here that the OPTIMASS 1300 is installed in a vertical pipe run feeding the distillation column. The density of the medium going through the meter can vary from 0.95 to 1.1kg/litre and flows at a rate of 2000 l/hr with pressure of 1BarG at a temperature of 30C.

Krohne_VodkaWith the available space being limited, Chase required a meter that had a small installation envelope, but could still measure accurately and was capable of being CIP cleaned at 65C. The OPTIMASS 1300 has a dual straight tube design which makes it ideal for use in hygienic applications as there are no crevices or bends for bacteria to gather and the meter can be easily drained and cleaned. Due to the hygienic nature of the application the OPTIMASS 1300 was supplied with hygienic fittings and also has all of the necessary hygienic industry approvals.

Prior to installing the OPTIMASS 1300, Chase used a manual method to monitor the flow of fermented potato mash into the distillation column, however they were looking for a mass flow meter to automate the process. The OPTIMASS 1300 has enabled Chase to monitor the feedstock to finished product ratio accurately and since installation it has also reduced production time by highlighting an underperforming feed pump that was increasing the mash charging time which in turn lengthened the production time.

Tim Nolan, engineering manager at Chase is very pleased with the performance of the OPTIMASS 1300, “Installing the KROHNE meter has meant that we can automate the process and ultimately reduce production time.  It also allows us increased flexibility as we can install the meter on other parts of the process to verify efficiency,” he continues, “KROHNE have supplied us with a meter that complies to our hygienic requirements and has proved to be very reliable.”

Initially, the OPTIMASS 1300 will be used with a local display, however in the future it is planned to interface the meter with the PLC using mA outputs to measure volumetric flow, density and temperature.

Chase_Bosca


ABB Process instrumentation, analytical technology and gas detection in Ireland

19/01/2015

Hanley Measurement & Control has built a reputation for the supply of specialist solutions and expertise in process instrumentation, process analytical technology and gas detection. Founded in 1981 it has long been considered as a leading automation in Ireland. The company has recently been appointed as channel partner in Ireland by ABB, to expand its instrument and analyser offering into the Irish process market

Left to Right: Chris Kennedy, Gavin O’Driscoll & Eoin O’Neill of Hanley Measurement & Control together with Aidan Edwards of ABB stand next to a representation of a 3 meter magnetic flowmeter (the largest every supplied!) during a recent visit to the ABB flow meter manufacturing facility in Stonehouse, GB.

Left to Right: Chris Kennedy, Gavin O’Driscoll & Eoin O’Neill of Hanley Measurement & Control together with Aidan Edwards of ABB stand next to a representation of a 2.4 meter magnetic flowmeter (the largest every supplied!) during a recent visit to the ABB flow meter manufacturing facility in Stonehouse, GB.

The partnership will see the company acting as the official sales agent for ABB’s complete portfolio of instrumentation and analyser products for applications in the pharmaceutical, chemical, food and beverage and other related industries.

Chris Kennedy, Managing Director of Hanley Measurement & Control commented that “partnering with ABB enables the company to provide its customers with an enhance product range specifically in relation to flow measurement and analytical solutions.”

Commenting on the partnership, Tim Door, General Manager for ABB’s Measurement and Analytics business in the Britain and Ireland says: “The partnership with Hanley Measurement and Control marks a positive move forward that underlines our intent to grow our presence in the Irish process market. The company is a great fit for our growing range of measurement and control products for improving process performance and efficiency.”

“Utilising a well-known and respected partner such as Hanley Measurement & Control will allow our customers in Ireland to get full access to support and service going forward into 2015 and beyond.”

• Following the completion of a management buyout Hanley Measurement & Control is no longer part of the Hanley group of companies. Hanley Measurement & Control is now a subsidiary of Eolas Scientific which also has an operating company in the UK called Eolas Technology. The management team of Chris Kennedy, Gavin O’Driscoll and Eoin O’Neill are committed to ensuring our customers receive exceptional service and a world class range of products.

A win – win situation: Cost optimisation on both sides!

30/06/2014

Silo management for grain mills and their customers!

In Germany alone there are more than 260 large flour mills, in Asia the grain market is significantly greater and a very important industry. All around the world the situation is similar: Well-planned routes and carefully calculated stock levels are vital to achieve max cost optimisation during the material delivery process, however these are more than often jeopardised by daily reality.

WPAlogo
UWT Level Instrumentaion is marketed in Ireland by Wolf Process Automation

Bakeries, the customers of the mills, often place their orders to late and the mills are faced with having to supply material immediately in order to avoid production stop at the bakeries. This leads to unnecessary logistics costs caused by multiple deliveries and ultimately to an increase in costs for sides, the supplier and the customer. This is obviously in no one’s interest. But why are we confronted with these “fire-fighting” situations and how can they be avoided?

Lack of storage management in bakeries
Even bakeries with multiple storage silos often do not have an automated level monitoring system to control their inventory levels. Therefore these stocks have to be checked manually on a regular basis and an order has to be triggered to the flour supplier on time. Due to unforeseen fluctuations in demand or simply by not having verified the stock levels sudden emergencies arise that lead to unplanned extra tours for the mill.

Just the installation of sensors for level monitoring in the silos of the bakeries would bring a partial improvement. In this context often the willingness to invest is lacking because “it´s working as it is” regardless of the fact that it is a very costly and inefficient way to do it. But the ideal solution would be that the mills take responsibility of the level monitoring centrally for their customers and offer this as a special service thus optimising their own material and delivery disposition and at the same time reducing the administrative effort involved.

Of course the cost question arises immediately – who should pay?! Or maybe does it pay for itself? In fact, closer analysis shows that the mill’s investment would amortise itself in a relatively short time due to the cost savings brought about by the optimised supply chain process.

Central-level measuring for mills
UWT GmbH are known in the industry as the expert for level measurement in bulk solids and have been providing made-to-measure solutions for many decades. With its long-term experience it has developed an economical and practical solution in the form of a central level-remote system for flour mills. This system works like this:

Lotsystem Nivobob® NB4200

Lotsystem Nivobob® NB4200

On each silo of the bakery the maintenance-free lot system Nivobob® 4000 is fitted for level monitoring. For easy mounting, just a standard 1.5 inch threaded socket in the silo roof is necessary. At the bakeries the level signals are bundled by the UWT software Nivotec® combined with a Wago WebController and the information received is passed to the Internet using an Ethernet connection via a routed IP address. The mill can securely access this information (password-protected) via any internet browser at any time of the day over a pre-defined IP address). It is possible to include any number of other customers in the visualisation system – without additional hardware or costs for the mill. If the priority is to keep installation at the bakeries to a minimum a GSM modem can be used to remotely access the data. In this case for the data transmission no Ethernet connection is required, but only a SIM card in the WAGO to pass the modem. This modem collects all level signals and sends them in an encrypted log via mobile phone over the Internet to the appropriate controller in the mill. As only small amounts of data are being sent is a low priced SIM contract sufficient for this purpose.

Current silo levels always comfortable available on your PC using visualization software Nivotec®

Current silo levels always comfortable available on your PC using visualisation software Nivotec®

The current silo levels can be displayed at the mill control center using the UWT Nivotec® visualisation software which can be accessed via the Internet browser on any Ethernet PC. The controller can see the real-time status of the silos because the visualisation controller is directly integrated into the Ethernet system.

Advantages and benefits of the level-remote system:
The benefit of the whole system is the simplification of the material disposition processes leading to a reduction of costs for all parties involved.

  • The installation of the system in the bakery as well as in the mill is straightforward and can usually be carried out by the mills own service engineers
  • Control cabinets only have to be set-up once; afterwards no additional IT support is necessary.
  • All silo levels can be visualised at the same time
    -> material planning security
  • The system can be dismantled at one customer and installed again at another  -> no new costs when customers change

The mill is able to hold the correct material in stock according to the customer’s material requirements and can optimise the logistical routes and schedules. Simply the availability of the required information which can avoid the need for express deliveries or empty runs can reduce the administrative effort dramatically. On the customer side, at the bakery, the task of manually checking the material level within the storage silos is eliminated and production bottlenecks due to a lack of material are history.

The material flow now follows a standard process with much greater planning security: Last but not least it naturally leads to a more harmonious working relationship and increased satisfaction on both sides which ultimately mean a stronger partnership between customer and supplier.


Smart solution with frequency sweep technology – A level switch for all media!

31/10/2013

Fill levels must be recognized in countless storage, buffer and holding tanks in the process industry, food industry, and even in wind power plants or other fields.

The level switches used are normally as different as the various media being monitored. With the CleverLevel LBFS/LFFS switch, Baumer has developed a true all-rounder that uses frequency sweep technology. This method capitalizes on the fact that every material, regardless of its consistency, has a dielectric constant specific to that medium. This makes the new level switch suitable for practically all media, including liquids, granulates and even electrostatic media. At the same time, it is unaffected by adhesive substances or foams that may lead to switching errors with other technologies. Furthermore, it can distinguish between different media. This makes the CleverLevel more than merely a replacement for the traditional vibrating fork used in level control. Configuration is possible using Teach-in. It is more convenient with Flex Programmer software, which enables visualization at the same time. The displayed information can be communicated to a higher-level controller if required and interpreted there in accordance with the operation phase.


Figure 1: Level control in a container.

Level detection is of great importance in the process industry. They monitor maximum and minimum values of material fill levels in tanks or as protection against overflow or dry operation. A number of limit switches are available, based on different technologies. The specific application determines the selection, because until now it was not possible to cover all applications with one level switch. Things are different now. A new level switch that uses frequency sweep technology now proves to be a practice-oriented all-rounder for almost every conceivable medium.

The demands on level switches can vary considerably, depending upon application. There are therefore numerous application-specific factors to consider, such as foam formation, aggressiveness or flammability of the media to be detected, adhesive substances, unfavorable installation conditions, the speed of the filling process and, naturally, the accuracy required.

The widely used vibrating forks do not necessarily offer the best conditions. Some have quite large components that extend far into the material being measured. Measuring errors can arise, since high viscosity materials tend to stick to these forks. Coarse granular media can easily become lodged between the forks and also cause measuring errors. The forks and difficult to clean and liquid and powder substances require different versions. It was impossible to cover all applications with one level switch, until now.

Figure 2: The CleverLevel series of level switches use frequency sweep technology and can reliably detect extremely different media. The readings are not affected by adhesive substances or foam.

Versatile sensor with elegant configuration
Now the Baumer CleverLevel series of level switches fill this gap. They are based on frequency sweep technology. The sensor analyses the resonance frequency of the oscillating circuit affected by the dielectric constant of the medium below the sensor tip. This allows adhesive substance on the sensor tip or foam to be suppressed. High sensitivity over a large measurement range for dielectric constants from 1.5 to over 100 enables limit detection for all sorts of powders, granulates and liquids. And setup is easy.

The default setting already recognizes most media. The Teach-in function helps in case of doubt and more complex configuration becomes child’s play with the FlexProgrammer software, because the user can practically “see” the same thing as the sensor. The switching range can be adjusted as required to ignore foams in maximum or minimum monitoring, for example. The same applies if the sensor needs to ignore adhesive substances. Tanks with liquid chocolate are a typical example. Even when empty, the sensor and container walls are coated with chocolate. When configured accordingly, the CleverLevel still switches only when the tank is really full or empty. Electrostatic adhesion, which must frequently be taken into account in the detection of powdery substances, can also be ignored by appropriate definition of the switching range.

The simple, graphic configuration software really adds to the user-friendliness. For example, it is possible to observe the sensor’s internal signal while the thresholds are adjusted by mouse click within the graphic representation. This not only makes the configuration method intuitive and thus easily learned, but also considerably improves the reliability of the results, because they can be checked graphically at any time. This is also possible with extended setting methods that take medium conductivity into account, even if two media have the same dielectric constant.

Even different media in the same process line or process tank can be detected in order to differentiate the end product. For example, different types of fish sauce, different beers, etc. For this purpose a measuring signal can be output so that different dielectric constants through different media, foams or adhesive substances can be differentiated in the control. This makes it possible to detect if a medium is polluted with another medium, e.g. oil polluted with water.

Figure 3: Supported by the FlexProgrammer, the CleverLevel series can perform even complex filling level detection tasks.

Assessment of measurement results and maintenance planning
The information that is visualized with the help of software can also be transferred to the higher-level controller. It can then evaluate the measuring signal. It ultimately knows if the position of the switching point shifts because another medium is in the tank during flushing, for example. Dirt in the tank can also be detected in this way and cleaning can be scheduled accordingly. Today, many application areas are dependent upon this information. Wind power plants are a typical example of this, because “spontaneous” maintenance of lubricant containers is extremely costly and can only be carried out at unjustifiable expense. The same applies to locomotives, ships or mobile implements in agriculture, for example.

A further strength of the level-monitoring sensor is particularly evident in mobile tanks. It normally works with a response time of 0.1 sec., which permits high-speed filling processes and the precise maintenance of filling levels. However, this becomes a disadvantage if the tank is in motion and the contents slosh around. In such cases, a switching delay of up to 10 sec. can be set to avoid false signals due to tank movement.

Figure 4: Using the Flex Programmer software, the switching range can be adjusted as required to ignore foam during maximum or minimum monitoring.

Robust, hygienic, with ATEX approval
But the new CleverLevel series offers even more. The level switches can be installed in any position, even in rather inaccessible locations. The LED that signals the switching process is highly visible in all directions. The sensor works silently, compliance with protection class IP67 requirements is standard, and it is suitable for ambient temperatures between -40°C und +200°C. Operation is also unaffected by vibrations. For example, the latter is important if the level switch is placed close to a pump as protection against dry running. The small penetration depth of only 15 mm is also a positive feature in these circumstances. Flow and pressure are hardly affected. In addition, thanks to gap-free installation and the smooth tip, nothing can adhere to the sensor.

In addition to the industrial process connections, there are also versions with EHEDG approval and an ATEX version for Ex areas for applications with stringent hygiene requirements. There are countless application possibilities for this all-rounder level switch. The food and beverage industry can benefit from its possibilities as much as every other industry, from pharmaceuticals, chemicals, petrochemicals, and process engineering all the way to the water supply and wastewater fields. Further areas of application are found in wind power plants, mobile machinery, cereal mills or cleaning facilities and pumping systems.

Figure 5: There are countless areas of application for this fill level sensor all-rounder, such as filling liquid chocolate.