Wednesday 20th Nov, 2019

Under pressure: VEGA’s new connected differential pressure transmitter

VEGA has unveiled a differential pressure transmitter which offers improved connectivity, simplicity and availability for the bulk handling sector.

VEGA has unveiled a differential pressure transmitter which offers improved connectivity, simplicity and availability for the bulk handling sector.

In the world of bulk handling, what you don’t know can hurt you. Many materials, such as grain and sugar, produce flammable dusts which can become explosive if left to build up.

Dust also poses issues for the mining and cement industries, as it can be dangerous when inhaled and detrimental to the nearby environment. For this reason, many state Environmental Protection Authorities have placed strict regulations on managing these dust levels.

Monitoring dust helps inform businesses when there is a potential build up on a filter or within a system. One method of detecting this is through the installation of a differential pressure transmitter , which measures either side of a filter and determine whether there is a drop or increase in pressure that requires intervention.

Accessing these instruments directly can be dangerous. Filters on silos are often high above the ground, and in other operations there may be moving or dangerously loud equipment nearby.

John Leadbetter, Managing Director of VEGA Australia, says the company reached out to the bulk handling industry to find out what the market wanted from its sensor technology.

“We found there were three main points: connectivity, simplified selection and availability,” he says.

VEGA took this feedback and incorporated it into the design philosophy for its latest differential pressure transmitter, VEGADIF85.

Equipped with two piezo-resistive detectors, VEGADIF85 measures both differential pressures and static pressures at the same time. Previously, it would require two separate instruments to analyse the dynamic pressure and superimposed static pressure. Now, only one is needed to help spot potential issues that could be occurring further down the line.

Bluetooth technology is one of VEGADIF85’s core features. Wireless data can be transmitted from the sensor to a smartphone or tablet device, improving safety for operators who can now check sensors from a distance.

VEGA’s suite of sensors and digital platform are backwards compatible, so the majority of its instruments manufactured since 2002 can take advantage of Bluetooth.

Mr Leadbetter says gone are the days where each instrument would also require its own calibration device.

“Because most people have a smartphone, operators can access all sorts of instruments, using the same app for pressure, ultrasonic, or even radiation sensors,” he says.

“Maintenance staff can now walk around the site, logging parallel to the device and monitoring the performance of machinery to spot any irregular patterns occurring. This can be used to plan for a shutdown in advance to address any issues as fast as possible.”

Simplified selection

Simplicity has been a significant focus for the development of VEGADIF85. It is housed in one of three common, compact, single-chamber cases to make choosing the right instrument for the job easier.

Installation only requires a few screws and it can be located in tight spaces. Its electronics are potted to improve its resistance to shock and vibration and it can be programmed through a cable or connection via Bluetooth.

To account for applications where the device would be in contact with potentially flammable or explosive elements, a flameproof housing is standard, tested by independent authorities such as ATEX and the IECEx system.

Mr Leadbetter says VEGADIF85 is qualified and approved to a Safety Integrity Level (SIL) of two. This SIL rating means the VEGADIF85 has been rigorously tested for use in manufacturing processes that depend on certified components, simple operation and permanently transparent processes.

Bulk liquid handlers can also use VEGADIF85 to measure processes within tanks and pipes, thanks to a robust and universal measuring principle. It finds the pressure difference through an orifice disc that narrows the flow in a pipe at a predetermined point.

“What we wanted to do with VEGADIF85 is allow one instrument to be used across a range of different applications,” Mr Leadbetter says.

“It can just as easily measure the level of a tank as it can check the pressure of a filter. It’s a common item that can be used in many different industries only requiring slight changes to how it is configured.”

Availability

VEGA’s survey found the most important thing to the bulk handling industry was availability. Mr Leadbetter explains the majority of companies wanted their equipment up and running as fast as possible and that if something was to go wrong, any issues would be fixed quickly.

To provide this level of uptime, the company designed VEGADIF85 to be simple to teach and easy to use.

All of the menus have been standardised, the technical information and manuals use common language, and shipments of extra stock are made twice a week from Germany.

“We have service technicians on the ground in  Australia that can fix any problems quickly,” Mr Leadbetter says.

“Because the system is so simple, a lot of problems can even be fixed over a quick phone call.”

VEGA offers in-house or on-site training and has developed hundreds of training courses to teach operators how to troubleshoot the instruments if needed. The majority of this training is hands-on experience with powered up equipment to give operators the practical information necessary to find common faults.

Industry 4.0

With the ability to use Bluetooth enabled, VEGADIF85 is capable of being implemented into Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things systems.

Mr Leadbetter says listening to customer feedback is key to providing future-ready technology.

“VEGA is part of many technology consortiums to stay part of the conversation and to help us see where the market is moving,” he says.

“As an international manufacturer, advances like 5G technology are key to keep in mind as we develop new equipment.

“We want to be ready for the future, no matter what it may be, so that we can provide the latest technology when the bulk handling industry needs it.”

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