3D Mapping & Visualization of Challenging Material in Food Silos

3D Mapping & Visualization of Challenging Material in Food Silos
Food ingredients stored in silos are notoriously difficult to measure. Powders, granules, and other solids are prone to uneven distribution when added to or emptied from the silo during processing.

3D level sensing technology was created to address these difficulties bringing volume accuracy to a more precise level. 3DLevelScanners are the only sensor to detect irregular piling. They measure and map the material surface and detect sidewall buildup, cone up and cone down conditions.

Unlike other sensors, 3DLevelScanners measure multiple points on the material surface. Uneven topography is considered when calculating volume, assuring more accurate volume than inventory estimates based on a single measurement. The acoustic pulses are immune to interference caused by excessive dust.

MultiVision software works with 3DLevelScanners to make it easy to monitor every silo at your location and set automated alerts to high or low levels. Plus, a 3DLevelScanner is sanitary because the non-contact sensor never touches material in the silo. For sticky materials, a Teflon-coated transducer defies clingy material and reduces maintenance. It is the only sensor to offer a 3D Image of the material topography, allowing you to see how the material is distributed in the silo.

The result is a more accurate Inventory valuation for financial reporting and fewer inventory write-offs. Purchasing departments are more powerful with more reliable data to generate orders, reduce safety stock and improve inventory turns.

Food manufacturing can be a challenging business. This case study shows how the 3DLevelScanner helped one food manufacturer address its material issues.

The Challenge

This food processor needed highly accurate volume measurements to know when to prepare to refill the bin, as the bin is almost always emptied completely before filling again to prevent damage to the material.  The customer was seeking both accuracy and stability at batch empty rates of approximately one-half ton per minute and was primarily interested in headroom or distance to the product from the top of the silo. The material is very dusty and prone to sidewall buildup and bridging with the material surface being characterized by highly uneven topography during the emptying process. The 3DLevelScanner was being evaluated against radar systems from several different vendors.

The Solution

The MV model of the 3DLevelScanner was mounted on a 100-foot tall, 27-foot diameter, carbon steel silo containing granular rice. The device was mounted on an existing flange using the BinMaster adapter plate and mounted one-sixth in from the silo diameter. The silo is a center fill, center discharge configuration and the internal bin environment is very dusty. However, the low-frequency acoustics-based technology was able to penetrate the dust. Unlike the single-point measurement radar devices, the 3DLevelScanner MV model samples multiple measurements within a 70-degree beam angle inside the bin. Allowing the material to settle in the bin and then visually mapping the contents helped the customer more closely manage inventory and schedule refilling at an optimal time and provided a more accurate estimate of bin volume. Based on the success of the first silo, 27 additional units were installed at the location.

The Benefits

Sampling measurements from multiple points when the material surface of the bin is uneven provides a more precise headroom measurement and bin volume than a single-point measurement device. The advanced mapping and visualization software – available on the 3DLevelScanner MV model is helpful when used in material prone to sidewall buildup and bridging, where there are points in the bin that are lower or higher than most of the bin contents. Calculating volume after an empty or fill cycle, when there is a “cone down” or “cone up” can also be more accurate when multiple point measurement is used. Had a single measurement been taken, bin volume estimates could be significantly higher or lower than the actual volume.

Application Highlights
Bin TypeCarbon steel silo with cone bottom
Bin Size100’ tall x 27’ diameter
ClassificationClass 2, Div 1 outside silo
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Processing operations that struggle with the challenges of inventory management and timely replenishment of all types of solids and powders can monitor silo levels on their smartphone, tablet, or desktop with complete solutions from BinMaster. A complete suite of continuous ...

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