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Modernizing radiometric measurements: A true story

Radiometric instrumentation lasts a long time.

A paper mill in the Upper Midwest understands this all too well. During a service call, VEGA Field Service noticed a number of old radiometric detectors, one of which had been in operation since 1966 – the same year “The Sound of Music” won the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Beatles released their single, “Yellow Submarine.”

Interested in upgrading their dated equipment, operators at the paper mill called the radiometric experts at VEGA to schedule a visit and learn about their options. Not long after the call, VEGA was at the mill’s doorstep.

VEGA builds them like they used to – only better


Paper mill operators and engineers escorted VEGA around the plant to 15 different applications – six conveyor belt mass flow measurements, six switches, and three pipe density measurements. In every instance, the radiometric source was in good, working condition, but the detectors had begun to show their age.

VEGA designs and builds radiometric instrumentation to last in the harshest industrial environments, and while the sensors of 50 years ago continue to make measurements, VEGA engineers have been busy innovating, designing, and building with all the technological advances made in the last half century.

The WeighTrac 31, PoinTrac 31, and MiniTrac 31, all part of the ProTrac series, use the latest technology for mass flow measurements, switching, and density, respectively.  Each of these detectors offers big upgrades from previous generations:

  • More sensitive scintillation materials, which allows for smaller sources with less activity
  • Fully encapsulated internal electronics for added protection from dirty, harsh environments
  • Lighter and more compact with durable cast aluminum or stainless steel housing
  • Guided setup with PACTware and modular plics®provides simple on-board interface

Once the paper mill learned what the ProTrac series could do, they opted to begin upgrading sensors they hadn’t touched in decades. Modernizing their instrumentation was easier than expected – a matter of a simple swap. That’s because VEGA offers adapters that allow installers to retrofit new generation instruments in the same spots where decades-old instruments existed.

Since each radiometric source was still in good, working condition, the old source holders didn’t need to be touched, which kept costs low and paperwork for new licensing non-existent. With a simple swap, this paper mill transformed its radiometric instrumentation from a museum exhibition to a modern technological display.

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