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SiloPatrol® Provides Cost Savings Through Better Inventory Control

Most companies are looking for ways to cut costs. One way is through better management of materials in storage silos. Many companies still use just point level sensors, like a “paddle unit”, to let them know when the material in the silo is high or low. Besides detecting high and low levels, a continuous level sensor, like the SiloPatrol® SE cable-based level sensor, can actually help cut costs and even increase personnel safety by automating inventory control. Although a continuous level inventory measurement system sounds like a good idea, the inclination may be that “a point level works ok, no need to spend any money to upgrade or change.” So how does one justify the extra initial cost of a continuous level system?SiloPatrol

A company in Northern Illinois with 13 silos who provides pre-blended masonry products and automated mixing stations to construction sites was looking for a way to better control the inventory levels of their raw materials instead of having to do a “visual”. They are very proactive in trying to find ways to make themselves more cost-efficient and effective on all levels of operation. After some research they decided to go with the SiloPatrol® cable-based smart sensor (SMU) with the SiloTrack inventory management software from Monitor Technologies. Even though the system cost more than they initially were willing to spend, they were able to justify the expenditure because of the added benefits of time saved to manually measure the material levels and for the personnel safety reasons. Now with automatic or on-demand readings, they have better control of when they need to re-order raw materials and when the silos are getting full during refilling to prevent the downtime and clean-up costs of an over-filled silo. Plus, personnel make a lot fewer trips up the silos.

Their initial purchase was for 6 SMU’s and the SiloTrack software. Once they realized the value of the continuous level measurement system, they were able to justify the purchase of additional SMU’s for more of their silos.

Other features that they have come to appreciate about the SiloPatrol is the simplicity of installation (including wiring and set-up) for the sensor and the software, that the software works with the current PC on their desk, the sensor’s compartmental isolation of the electrical and mechanical components which eliminates much of the dust from going into the electrical area, and the ability to replace the sensor’s wiper and brush that cleans the cable without having to actually cut the cable for servicing. They also mentioned that technical support has been very responsive. They once had a computer board issue that caused software re-installation problems and technical support spent the time to talk them through the issue and shared knowledge for future prevention.

The SiloPatrol SE inventory management system is the second edition of the industry-leading cable-based smart sensor system that is designed to handle some of the harshest and most dynamic conditions imaginable. The SiloPatrol SE system incorporates state-of-the-art sensors with a wide choice of operator interfaces to fit all types of situations.

More Information on SiloPatrol® SE Inventory Monitoring System

Hogg Fuel & Supply Uses Flexar® Continuous Level Systems
to Provide Accurate, Real-time Measurements on Cement Powder and GGBS (Slag)

Hogg Fuel & Supply operates concrete batch plants in Ontario, Canada.  Hogg Fuel has been a quality supplier of ready mix concrete for over thirty (30) years.  They use a blend of Portland cement and slag.  The “slag” is actually GGBS or ground granulated blastfurnace slag.  GGBS is sometimes used as an additive to concrete to provide benefits in the areas of durability, quality, strength and finish.  Typical batches include about 10-15% slag but this can vary depending on the need of their customer.

Maintenance Supervisor Bob Knarr was looking to replace the older weight & cable units installed on their 20ft (6.1m) cement and slag storage silos.  Although the weight & cable based technology provided accurate distance measurements, they required maintenance several times per year.  Bob and Hogg Fuel wanted a measurement system that would be would not require maintenance, would provide true continuous readout, provide the accuracy they require, while retrofitting into the existing mounting portals on top of their silos.

This plant was designed as an auxiliary plant to their main facility and therefore was built with smaller capacity silos than their main plant.  However, this auxiliary plant has become increasingly busier in recent years. This makes tracking the level critical as loads are required more frequently than in the past. 

Flexar has met all of their expectations and system requirements.  As with all complete systems, Hogg Fuel has a rotary paddle point level unit top mounted with a two foot extension for indication of high level to alert the cement delivery to shut down when the vessel is full.  As an added bonus, Flexar provides the batcher in the control room the ability to track the progression of the fill cycle right to its completion!  The Flexar sensors were installed in late April 2006.

Flexar is a guided wave radar continuous level sensor.  Distance/level is measured by the time-of-flight of the reflection of a microwave signal (transmitted down the wave-guide, which is a heavy-duty 0.3” SS cable with 3.9 ton tensile strength) off the material surface.  Cement and GGBS slag both have relatively low dielectric constants and Flexar’s direct measuring mode was successful in providing real-time continuous updates of the material level during filling and draw-down.

More Information on Flexar® Guided Wave Radar

TrueCap Level SensorTrueCap Light  
TrueCap® MK-2
Advanced RF Capacitance Level Probe
The TrueCap® Model MK-2 RF Capacitance point level probe is designed to provide a superior and stable sensitivity threshold making it suitable for a variety of powder / bulk solids and some liquid or slurry applications.

Advanced features of the Model MK-2 include:
> Automatic immunity to material build-up on the probe by its driven shield design
> Push-button calibration
> Enhanced temperature compensation
> Maximized reliability via smart sensing algorithms like “self-validating” fail-safe protection
> Visible status LED on ordinary location units
> Versatility through a variety of configuration options including: hazardous location version, split architecture design, quick-connect process connection, stub probe, cable extensions, solid extensions, Nylon® probes, Ryton® - equiv. probes, etc.

A practical application for the TrueCap would be to use this level sensor where a residual material build-up on a different sensor would cause a false material level indication.

Principle of Operation for the TrueCap RF Capacitance Level Probe:
The vessel wall and the active probe element establish an impedance reference between each other when exposed to air which has a dielectric constant of 1. When materials with a dielectric constant greater than 1 are in close proximity to the probe, the impedance of the sensing field between the sensor and the vessel wall will change. Once the amount of change exceeds a threshold that was electronically determined during the calibration process, an output relay will either be energized or de-energized depending upon the position of the fail-safe selector on the probe’s electronic circuit board. A change of as little as .5 pico-farad is all that is necessary for the probe to sense the presence of material.

Click here for more information on the TrueCap MK-2 Level Sensor or contact Monitor Technologies LLC at
Tel.: 800-766-6486 in the USA and
Tel.: 630-365-9403 worldwide.
>>Download TrueCap Product Bulletin #413
>>Click here to learn more about other Point Level Switches from Monitor Technologies

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