What level controls can…and can’t tell you!

When it comes to choosing an inventory management device one of the most important considerations is what type of information you need it to provide. Inventory level controls range from simply letting you know the tank is full to being an integral planning tool at every level of the container. Here’s the breakdown from simple and economical to complex.

Tilt Switches

Tilt switches are installed over a desired control point using a wire rope, chain or other flexible hanger capable of supporting the device. When tilted at least 15 degrees, a steel ball inside of the device activates a microswitch, alerting the user to a high inventory level or clogged status. An optional paddle extension may be installed to increase the sensitivity of a tilt switch.

Pressure Switches

Diaphragm pressure switches are basic level detection mechanisms that alert when a tank is full. Multiple switches can be used in conjunction with BinMaster’s point level alarm panel. This console can be utilized to alert the user to bin level conditions for 4 to 24 level indicator stations. The alarm panel helps save time by allowing the user to monitor high, medium and low levels of multiple bins from a single console. The alarm panel can be connected to a light, horn, or common alarm. A version of the switch is available with explosion-proof certification that can be used in environments where there is a risk of combustible dust.

Rotary Level Indicators

Rotary level indicators are basic level control devices, but they are increasingly being applied in new ways. For high level detection at the interior of a bin, a vertical extension on a rotary can allow it to be extended up to 12 feet into the bin. This configuration is recommended for a center fill bin when the operation wants to allow a specific amount of headroom in the bin.

Mounted on the top of the bin, a vertically-extended rotary can alert when material is higher toward the center of the bin, versus simply detecting the level of material near the sidewall which could be at a lower level when filling the bin (cone up) and at a higher level when emptying the bin (cone down).

For thick bins walls, a horizontal extension allows for a rotary to be used to detect material levels through the sidewall. When a horizontal extension is combined with a collapsible paddle or an insertable paddle, the rotary can easily be installed through a 1-1/4 inch or 1-1/2 inch NPT opening without entering the bin.

Capacitance Probes

Also available are capacitance level control probes with a shielded, Delrin-sleeved sanitary probe that are appropriate for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. The sanitary probe is designed for quick disconnect from the device, so it may easily be removed from the tank for inspection and cleaning, and there are no exposed threads where material can build up and become contaminated. A sanitary probe must be tested and proven to meet USDA or 3-A Sanitary Standards for hygienic equipment design for the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries.

Vibrating Level Sensors

The vibrating level sensor is piezoelectric, so it can be used to overcome difficulties associated with changes in dielectric constant, humidity, temperature, or material density. Most vibrating rods do not require calibration and easily adjust to the desired sensitivity level. Features include models for high temperatures and/or with remote electronics. Vibrating rods can even be extended down into the tank if the vibrating sensor is to be used in a top-mounted application for high-level detection.

Bob-Style Sensors

Bob-style level control sensor network can be integrated utilizing a wide variety of communication options. The most cost effective is a control console mounted at ground level or another central location that data can report to from one to over 100 bins. It can provide information such as distance to product (headroom), height of product, and percentage full. Bin data can be sent to a personal computer via Windows-based software to report detailed data for multiple bins simultaneously and features a visual report of bin levels and can also be monitored on the BinView, web-based bin monitoring system.

Other communications include the ability to send automated email alerts when bins reach a predetermined level. Internet-based monitoring solutions are available that enable 24/7 access to bin data from any device with a web connection, and allow for managing multiple sites from any remote location.

3D Level Scanners

3D Level Scanners are a unique inventory control system because theycan map the topography of the bin and create a computerized profile of the bin contents. The measurements are sent to a main display screen, which includes data such as average, minimum and maximum distances, level, temperature inside the tank, and volume percentage. The 3D mapping software depicts surface irregularities in a visual representation of the bin contents. A 3D scanner is desirable when high material cost and highly accurate volume inventories are needed to help in optimizing purchasing, delivery logistics, production planning, and financial management.

What Level Controls Can’t Tell You

It’s a common misconception that a tank level control device will convert to mass or volume and then to pounds accurately. The nature of powders, granular materials or pellets is that they will settle, shift and compact in the tank. Some advanced devices can and do incorporate compaction calculations into their software, which will compensate somewhat for the behavior of the material. However, a level measurement device is not a weight scale.

We Know Level Indicators & Controls. Find the perfect BinMaster product for your operation by browsing our online showroom. Looking for expert advice? Call the professionals at Gulf Atlantic today: (800) 792-7427 or send them an inquiry.