SICK says its innovative non-contact radar sensing technology is opening up the prospect of robust and reliable real-time monitoring of bulk solid levels in the mining and quarrying industries.
The SICK SicWave uses higher frequency 80 gigahertz free-space radar to overcome the limitations of lower-frequency radar sensors or mechanical devices to achieve precision continuous level measurement, the company says.
Where previously operators have settled for switch point level indication or have been defeated by the challenges of using non-contact sensors in harsh environments, the narrowly focused, highly effective microwave pulses of the SICK SicWave sensors penetrate through dust and material build-up to output highly accurate results, according to SICK.
The SICK LBR SicWave is a bulk solids level sensor with a range up to 120 m. “It represents a breakthrough in technology for continuous level measurement to optimise material storage in breakers and bulk material stockpiles as well as for belt transfer, buffer and production silos in the mining and quarrying industries,” SICK said.
Darren Pratt, SICK’s UK Product Manager for industrial instrumentation, explains: “Anyone who needs to manage the supply of bulk solids in storage vessels will understand the frustrations that can be caused when trying to achieve a reliable level measurement using a non-contact optical or radar principle when the signal is disrupted by the presence of dust or build-up of residue, or by other obstructions in the vessel.
“When positioned at the top of a silo, or over a heap or bunker, a SICK SicWave sensor sends a highly focused narrow beam of microwave radar pulses and uses the time-of-flight principle to return a high-quality signal even at exceptionally long ranges or extreme temperatures and pressures.”
The SICK SicWave 80 GHz free-space radar sensors are a thousand times more sensitive than previous-generation 26 GHz radar technologies, ensuring high availability in even the most challenging environments with minimal maintenance requirements, the company says. The narrow field of view also avoids the potential for false signals caused by deposits on walls or by other obstructions inside the vessel and ensures focused alignment to enable simple and rapid set-up.
Remote set-up and interrogation of the sensors is straightforward, either using the on-board WPAN interface to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth or through standard HART communication, which also enables integration with higher level controls and diagnostic systems. The sensors have a standard 4-20 mA output, enabling signals to be monitored and displayed on a dashboard in a cloud environment using IIoT gateways such as SICK’s Telematic Data Collector.
The bulk level sensors come in a range of space-saving antenna designs, versatile flange or thread process connections and a range of application-specific mounting options, with the robust IP66/IP67 plastic or aluminium housings ready for harsh industrial environments. Variants with ATEX or IEC Ex certification are also available for use in explosive environments.
The SICK LBR SicWave measures bulk solid levels reliably at process temperatures between -40°C and +200°C and at process pressures between -1 and 20 bar, the company claims.
Pratt concluded: “The 80 GHz free space radar technology, when combined with the wide-ranging application versatility of these sensors, promises to be a true gamechanger for many operators working in demanding industrial environments.”
The SICK LBR SicWave sensors are complemented by other SICK technologies for bulk solids and fluids handling, including the SICK LMS BulkScan for measurement of mass and volume on belts and conveyors.