Flow, level & control

Laser precision conquers bulk volume measurement

Measuring bulk materials requires a high level of efficiency and precision. Laser scanning technology offers accurate measurements, as SICK explains

conveyed solids of all kinds, from coal to potatoes, requires a high level of efficiency and precision, if full commercial benefits are to be exploited. Variability in raw materials costs, high energy use and plant maintenance demands, all mean that maximum revenue must be derived even though the materials themselves may be, by nature, high volume, low-price-per-unit goods. Bulk solids often need to be handled in


large quantities at high speeds especially when loading, moving or extracting. Maximising the material throughput can be critical for protecting marginal profits. Variations in specific gravity, bulk, par ticle size, shape and composition, dryness and other factors all make the task of weighing, and par ticularly

ulk materials handling uses some of the most demanding industrial processes. Managing and measuring

measuring volume, more challenging. Conveyor lines and belts may be a tried and

tested handling method, but when it comes to measuring what is on them for revenue or transport purposes, the speed of movement, vibration and often harsh operating conditions can compromise the level of accuracy that is possible. Measuring equipment such as belt weighers

may be rugged and foolproof, but they lack the finesse of stable, sensitive precision instruments. So, in recent years, laser scanning technologies have been developed to provide an accurate, non-contact and environmentally- resistant measurement of mass, weight and volume of bulk materials moved at speed. Laser scanning technology is capable of measuring load heights, fill levels and centre of gravity, to keep the operation within safe parameters and help avoid uneven loading and resulting belt wear.

SICK’s LMS Bulkscan system offers highly-

accurate, delay-free volume and mass flow measurements. It has provided a reliable option for materials handling of a wide range of bulk handling applications for both mixed and more homogeneous materials on a conveyor during processing, storage or transpor tation operations. SICK’s LMS Bulkscan laser scanner works by

generating a laser-scanned profile of the bulk materials. The volume, mass and throughput of the conveyed material is calculated using the measured speed of the belt and the material density value, so that an accurate real-time mass flow or volume measurement is provided which can be used, for example, for revenue assessment, shipping weights or safe loading. The versatility and robustness of this

technology has made it useful to a wide range of bulk handling applications for both mixed and more homogeneous materials on a conveyor during processing, storage or transpor tation operations. For example, the LMS Bulkscan laser volume flow meter achieves accurate, reliable measurement of volume and mass for : • Agricultural produce such as grain, potato

and other root crops, vegetable and fruit • Bulk building materials, for example

gravels, aggregates, hard core and cement • Mined, quarried materials or solid fuels

such as coal, ores, aggregates, coal dust, biomass fuels and ash • Bulk timber materials, including wood,

chippings and sawdust • Bulk waste materials for waste collection

and recycling operations. Now, based on the success of the LMS511

PRO laser scanner, SICK has added the LMS111 Bulkscan to its offering, providing a value-added alternative to a standard belt weigher. “By measuring the load height profile every

20 milliseconds, the LMS111 Bulkscan delivers an accurate, continuous profile measurement. It then works out the volume of the material using the belt speed which can be provided as a fixed value or input via an encoder in the case of a variable speed belt. The mass is computed from the volume and a known density of the material. “Volume is more impor tant than mass for

many production processes, making Bulkscan an ideal alternative to beltweighers in

30 January 2019 Instrumentation Monthly

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