The Importance of Level Sensors for the Addition of Hops in the Beer Brewing Industry

A key step in beer brewing is adding hops to the malt-based liquor. The hops are used for flavoring the beer and making it more or less bitter. Level sensors are needed in order to automate the addition of hops and these are used for monitoring 2 parameters in the hop bins. The two parameters are:

  • Is it full to the right level? – This helps discharge the right amount of hops into the brewing kettle.
  • Is it fully empty? – This makes sure that the right amount is delivered into the brewing kettle and no remaining material is bridged in the hop bins.

Figure 1 shows the process of brewing beer:

Beer Brewing Process

Figure 1. Diagram illustrating the process of brewing beer. 1. Hot Water Tank 2. Malt 3. Mash Tun 4. Hops 5. Copper 6. Hopback 7. Heat exchanger 8. Yeast Fermenter 9. Cask or Keg 10. Bottling

Application Example

At a brewery in the US Midwest ABB LM80 laser level transmitters were installed. The mounting of the laser level transmitters was done on a support beam off the ceiling in such a way that the distance to the top of the hops in the bin was about 5ft when full and 12ft when empty.

This placement made sure that the bins could be moved, filled and emptied without any chance of the transmitters being damaged. The customer had tried using ultrasonic transmitters with little success because of the severe peak up and slump down in the hops bins. Optech laser transmitters were also considered, but were rejected due to the high costs. These performed well during testing but were highly expensive and were tough to setup.

The open path radar type level transmitters were not tested by the customer but it was concluded that these would also fail for the same reasons that the Ultrasonic transmitters failed: severe peak up and slump down in the hops bins.

The selection criteria for the ABB laser transmitters were:

  • Proper measurement in all “angles of repose” of the hops
  • Competitive price
  • Ease of installation
  • Ease of configuration
  • Dust tubes
  • The simple 2 axis mounting kit
  • Adjustable pivot bracket A800
  • Quick delivery

About ABB Analytical Measurements

ABB is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 145,000 people.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by ABB Analytical Measurements.

For more information on this source, please visit ABB Analytical Measurements.

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