Automating level measurements saves time and money

Too much to do and not enough time leads to spills

A world-renowned brewer with operations all around the globe has been making beer for nearly a century and a half. In that time, the number of beers they brew and the company’s operations have both grown significantly.

At a brewing facility just outside of Mexico City, the major beer maker uses 34 massive silos to store a variety of malts and grains. Each silo measures 45 meters tall (approx. 150 feet), and operators were responsible for performing regular manual level checks.

Making these manual measurements was labor-intensive, and because operators had other responsibilities at the facility, the level checks were regularly dismissed for higher-priority tasks. Inaccurate level measurement information often led to taking deliveries when they didn’t have room to receive them, resulting in spills from overfilling.

With a work force stretched thin, they needed a way to automate level measurements and easily visualize inventory. To find a solution, they presented their dilemma to the level and pressure measurement experts at VEGA.

Working together toward a maintenance-free solution

VEGA uses a variety of technologies and software to solve level measurement problems just like this one. After discussing the application and learning what operators needed, VEGA suggested a combination of instrumentation, electronics, and software. The VEGAPULS 69 easily mounts on top of the malts and grain silo to provide an accurate continuous level measurement.

The brewery opted for the VEGAPULS 69, a radar level sensor utilizing 80 gigahertz (GHz) technology, for level measurements in all 34 silos. This radar is a non-contact, low-maintenance solution specifically designed for the measurement of bulk solids like the malts and grains inside these silos.

The 80 GHz frequency delivers a narrow beam angle, and the antenna receives a stronger return signal, resulting in a more reliable level measurement. Plus, the radar signal is immune to any dust that may develop when the silos are being filled or emptied.

All 34 level measurement outputs from the VEGAPULS 69 radar sensors were fed into four VEGASCAN 693 controllers. The VEGASCAN 693 controllers take the level information from the VEGAPULS 69 radar sensors and output the data through ethernet to the VEGA Inventory System (VIS).

The VEGA Inventory System (VIS) is a web-based software platform for easy data visualization. On a single screen, operators can view level data for multiple silos and storage tanks, turning a job that once took hours into a simple task that only takes minutes. Real-time level measurements provide more precise inventory data with the additional ability to track trends with a few clicks.

Freeing up time for more important responsibilities and eliminating spills

Using the VEGAPULS 69 radar sensors for accurate and reliable real-time measurements has improved brewery operations. Operators no longer need to check 34 different silos to obtain level measurements and compile the inventory data needed for ordering new deliveries.

Nowadays, the inventory data is securely stored and viewed using the VEGA Inventory System, and operators can see all the necessary information in an instant with their feet firmly planted on the ground. Inventory levels are always up to date and tracked in real-time. Plus, operators can view trends, which helps to optimize logistics regarding new orders.

This new way of operations is both safer and more efficient, which frees up valuable time for operators to focus on more important day-to-day tasks. As this facility experiences the benefits of the VEGAPULS 69 and the VEGA Inventory System, the brewer plans to use this solution in more of its breweries in Mexico and around the world.

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