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VEGAPULS 64 monitors the level in chocolate cream tanks. The perfect melt.

Socado produces not only chocolate bars and filled chocolates for immediate consumption, but also products that require further processing, such as chocolate blocks for the confectionery industry or all kinds of cocoa, milk and hazelnut based spreads.

This blog was originally published in 2017. It was updated in February 2020 to add new, relevant information.

Quality is the top priority for Socado, the Italian chocolate company. They only use high-quality raw materials, and take advantage of the best, most advanced technologies and systems available. From the individual mixing phases to production and packaging of chocolates and creams, each step is precisely monitored and documented.

The company was looking for a new way to accurately and continuously measure inventory and consumption in its chocolate cream tanks. For its level measurement needs, the Italian chocolate manufacturer has relied on VEGA for a decade, and operators are especially satisfied with the quality technical support they receive. That’s why there are so many VEGA level and pressure sensors deployed throughout the plant.

One day, the company decided it wanted to reduce or, if possible, completely avoid the routine maintenance for all of their ultrasonic sensors. Apart from the maintenance, the ultrasonic sensors in one of the tanks regularly delivered unreliable measuring results because of build up on the sensors or interference caused by the built-in agitator.

Chocolates are the main focus of the company. For all products, however, only select, high-quality ingredients are used.

During an on-site presentation, VEGA Italy technicians explained the advantages of the VEGAPULS 64 radar level sensor. At one point, they completely immersed the sensor in chocolate spread to show the measured value remained stable despite the mess. The instrumentation engineers at Socado all agreed: this radar sensor was made for us!

Because they had such great trust in VEGA and the new technology, they decided to forgo any tests or trial measurements. Since they could use the existing process fittings, they were able to install the new level sensor easily without any costly modifications. The engineers were already familiar with the operation of the sensors because the VEGAPULS 64 is a part of the proven plics system.

The PLICSCOM display and adjustment module is used for setting up and operating the devices, as well as displaying the measured values in the sensor head. This means a PC or special software is not required. The PLICSCOM can simply be inserted into the sensor and removed again, without ever interrupting the power supply.

Try the VEGAPULS 64

VEGAPULS 64 measures reliably even when faced with viscous build up, in this case chocolate, and difficult installation situations, e.g. caused by agitators.

The VEGAPULS 64 continues to make reliable measurements even in applications with heavy build up (such as chocolate cream) and in difficult installation situations (in this case agitators) because it has a considerably narrower beam angle compared to earlier level measurement sensors.

Reliable measurement with radar instruments is only possible when the interference signals are not the same size as the level echo. However, this is exactly what happens, when build up forms inside the container. Due to its 80-GHz frequency, the VEGAPULS 64 has a more focused beam angle of only 3°. This allows this type of radar sensor to be used in vessels with internal installations or heavy build up on the walls because the beam simply passes by such obstacles. The VEGAPULS 64 also has a very wide dynamic range. As a result, a much more reliable and stable measurement is possible, particularly with build up and high-fat products like chocolate cream.

The radar level transmitter measures the liquid chocolate in five-meter-high tanks.

In one application, VEGAPULS 64 is measuring the level of the liquid chocolate in a large tank 5 meters high. A large agitator with five blades ensures a uniform consistency. The chocolate mass must have a uniform temperature of about 50° C (122° F), so that taste and quality are not adversely affected.

In applications where the process temperature inside the container is higher than the external ambient temperature, condensation and build up on the sensor antenna are expected. When VEGA engineers designed the VEGAPULS 64, this was exactly the process conditions they had in mind. That’s why they took special care to optimize the sensitivity of the sensor in the close range. This distance-dependent dynamic adaptation reduces the effects of interference directly in front of the antenna system, and at the same time, it allows a very high signal sensitivity at a greater distance.

The level measurement is carried out over the entire tank height without a blocking distance, or dead band, which is common with ultrasonic sensors. Without a dead band, the radar sensor measures accurately measures from the bottom of the tank all the way to the top. Now, the tank can be filled to the top and operators can maximize the vessel volume. As for Socado, the radar sensors don’t require maintenance like the previous ultrasonic transmitters.

The new level sensor is also ideal from a hygienic point of view. For starters, radar level transmitters employ a non-contact measurement, which ensures optimal hygienic conditions. Secondly, the front-flush, encapsulated antenna is easy to clean and resistant to the extreme conditions of SIP and CIP processes.

The sensor measures with high accuracy at the top as well as at the bottom of the tank. VEGAPULS 64 does not require any maintenance.

The VEGAPULS 64 can also be adjusted and operated using Bluetooth. Adjustment is really simple: Insert PLICSCOM into the instrument, download the VEGA Tools app, and done! The user can immediately configure and parameterize any plics sensors from a safe distance with a smartphone or tablet. Display and diagnostic functions are also at the user's disposal.
Conclusion: From the beginning, it was clear the main problem - the heavy build up of the chocolate cream - was not going to be a problem for the new radar sensor. The VEGAPULS 64 functioned perfectly right from the start, measuring the level reliably and accurately.

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