This is where IIoT – a network of interconnected sensors and intelligent systems sharing information over the internet – can help significantly and give organizations a competitive advantage if they’re willing to embrace the technology. Smart sensors connected to a network and presented on an easy-to-read display can easily solve this problem of inefficiency.
VEGA, a manufacturer of process instrumentation, has extensive experience providing logistical solutions to customers using level measurement instrumentation technology and IIoT. Using a combination of reliable and accurate level measurement sensors for better inventory tracking and a web-based software platform for information transparency can improve efficiency all around.
The first hurdle is truly knowing silo inventory because an organization can’t manage what they don’t know. The VEGAPULS 69, an 80 GHz radar, provides a non-contact level measurement, which can deliver an output to continuously track inventory. This sensor is the ideal measuring device to use with aggregates and cementitious materials because the sensor has no moving parts, and withstands dust, buildup, and noise. Once installed at the top of a silo, the radar sensor emits a microwave signal to the material below. The signal reflects off the material and returns to the sensor, and the signal’s time of flight is used to calculate level.
Data from every VEGAPULS 69 radar sensor is displayed on the VEGA Inventory System (VIS). VIS is a web-based software platform for remote inventory monitoring that pairs with VEGA measurement sensors to deliver up-to-date information about inventory, consumption patterns, and free space in storage silos. The VEGA Inventory System uses a convenient color-coded configuration, making it easy to understand inventory levels with a quick glance. When a silo’s bar is green, there’s no need for a shipment. When it’s yellow, the silo can take at least one load. And once the bar turns red, a shipment is needed right away.
All of this information can be securely viewed anywhere with an internet connection by the ready-mix plants and the hauling company. The transparency of inventory information is empowering, and it benefits both parties: hauling companies can focus on making more efficient deliveries and maintaining inventory while the ready-mix plants can focus on their own drivers and customers instead of worrying about replenishment plans.
Using an IIoT solution like VIS allows hauling companies to plan better and avoid time-wasters like rush hour traffic and busy times at replenishment depots and ready-mix plants. Busy days with a big concrete pour run more smoothly with this system in place, and conversely, if inclement weather brings the ready-mix business to a screeching halt, truck drivers can maximize that downtime by topping off silos and making additional deliveries instead of going home for the day and losing out on potential revenue. At the same time, ready-mix concrete plants maintain a secure supply chain.