Dust, buildup, and temperature swings slow things down
A major grain processor located in Indiana goes through 140,000 bushels, or roughly 3,825 metric tons every day. Processing that many beans in a day means you can’t afford to slow down your process, let alone stop it. Unfortunately, this processor was dealing with stoppages and shutdowns because the measurement technology they were using to monitor the flow of beans wasn’t always reliable.
The beans move through the process in chutes, which need to keep flowing. If there’s a chute plug, it can temporarily shut down the process, and if it goes unnoticed for too long, it can lead to a shutdown, bringing everything to a screeching halt. This facility was using point level capacitance probes to monitor for chute plugs. Once the chute became blocked, the soybeans backed up and triggered the capacitance switches to notify operators of a plugged chute.
These probes were continually exposed to the soybeans and the resultant dust, and the buildup on the capacitance probes would produce false signals. Plus, when the seasons changed – as they often do in Indiana – the sensors required adjustments. These false signals and seasonal adjustments added up in time and money spent on maintenance. Operators needed something resistant to the nuisances slowing things down.
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