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Monitoring the level of molten polyethylene for car parts

Car Interior - Steering Wheel

Many car interior parts are made using polyethylene.

More than ever before, a good portion of our cars are made from plastics and plastic composites. According to the American Chemistry Council, plastics account for approximately 50 percent of the volume of a typical vehicle.  Using plastic in cars helps achieve better fuel efficiencies and improves vehicle safety. Many times, these plastic parts are made of polyethylene, and recently, VEGA Americas helped an auto parts manufacturer track the level in their tanks.

Making a measurement in the tightest of spaces

A polyethylene tank at a car parts manufacturer.An auto parts manufacturer responsible for making vehicle interiors, steering wheels, exterior moldings, and trim pieces for large auto manufacturers hadn’t been getting level measurements in all 30 of their polyethylene tanks – a product with poor reflective properties. In a particular plant, the tanks are very small – roughly five feet tall and about a couple feet in diameter. On top of the tanks, there’s only a single 1” process connection, and it’s pushed to the sidewall because of a bulky mixer mounted on top. To make matters more complicated, there’s little to no headspace above the vessel to install a guided wave radar.

Creative mounting made possible with the VEGAPULS 64

A VEGAPULS 64 measures level in a polyethylene tank.Because of the low dK product and the close proximity to the sidewall, VEGA representatives suggested testing a VEGAPULS 64 on three of the vessels. To bypass the large mixer flange on top of the tank, installers had to reduce the 1” threaded process connection to a ¾” thread and mount an 8” extension. Because of the VEGAPULS 64’s versatility, the ¾” connection was no problem. After constructing a process connection that would work and commissioning the radars, installers were able to get a reliable signal.

A solution worth repeating

The previous instrumentation on these vessels hadn’t been functional for years, so operators had been working blind. This new solution involving a small, unique process connection and the VEGAPULS 64 has enabled the plant to run their process at an optimal production rate, and they’ve reduced their risk of overflowing the tanks. The plant is now planning to replace most of their existing tanks with the same setup.

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