Chocolate manufacturer monitors sugar silo with Siemens level technology
Safe sugar supply
A Canadian chocolate manufacturer whose plant in Ontario specializes in the production of confectioner coatings suffered repeated problems with level measurement in the sugar silo due to the use of outdated measuring technology. To obtain more reliable and precise measurements of the content in the 86,000-kg capacity silo, the company is now relying on instrumentation from the Siemens Sitrans portfolio. In addition to accurate measurements, the devices also offer a persuasive combination of easy installation, ruggedness and minimal maintenance requirements.
Along with cocoa, milk and other ingredients, chocolate consists to a large extent of sugar. Therefore, if sugar runs out during the chocolate manufacturing process, the entire production line comes to a stop. That was exactly what happened to a chocolate factory in the Canadian city of Ontario. The Canadian chocolate manufacturer, which requires a lot of sugar to produce its coatings, had been using obsolete technology to measure levels in the sugar silo. This resulted in occasional shutdowns of the whole production system. To avoid such breakdowns in the future, the company is now relying on level transmitters from Siemens’ Sitrans portfolio.
Either too much or too little sugar
Fifteen meters in height, the sugar silo in the Canadian factory can hold 86,000 kilograms of sugar. Prior to introducing the new technology, the sugar level was determined by point level switches – four vibrating forks connected to the control room. However, point level switches do not reliably indicate the quantity of material currently in the silo since material can adhere to the vibrating forks. Consequently, there was sometimes less sugar in the silo than the units indicated. At other times, there was a larger amount of sugar in the silo than reported to the control room. This increased the risk of the silo overflowing, with the filters at the top of the silo clogging up and requiring extensive cleaning, and also incurred the costs of additional delivery time for trucks that could not be emptied completely.
Perfect for use in silos
Siemens supplied the solution for more precise and reliable level measurement. For cost reasons, and in light of the operating conditions, factory managers opted for the Sitrans LR560 non-contact radar measuring unit. With a four-degree beam angle, the unit fits perfectly into the narrow silo, while its slim sonic lobe allows the conical silo floor, like the silo as a whole, to be scanned at a measuring accuracy of one percent. Its rugged stainless steel design and plug-and-play capability make the compact Sitrans LR560 suitable for bulk material applications, even in the presence of extreme dust and at high temperatures of up to +200 degrees Celsius. The innovative sealed lens antenna design prevents measurement distortion from the sticky sugar. Mounted flush on an existing flange, the transmitter does not project into the silo. Other advantages of this well-rounded device include easy attachment of the 4-20 mA (milliampere) connection to the control system, real-time data access and reduced maintenance requirements. The head of electrical engineering at the factory draws a very positive conclusion: “The accuracy that we are achieving is even better than required.” This success has not escaped the attention of other divisions within the company, and there is now interest in introducing the Siemens level solution at additional locations,