3D Technology for Reliable, Accurate Inventory Monitoring in Corn Silos

The scanner is mounted on top of the bin, measures and maps surfaces, send data via RS-485 or 4-20mA and the software records data and 3D map of contents as well as calculates level, volume and mass.

Anatomy of a 3D Level Scanner

Figure 1 shows the anatomy of a 3D level scanner.

Anatomy of a 3D level scanner

Figure 1. Anatomy of a 3D level scanner

The key features of a 3D level scanner are:

  • Penetrates dust and requires minimal maintenance
  • Self-cleaning with minimal routine maintenance required
  • Sensor resists buildup of dust inside of transducer
  • Works where other technologies are unreliable or have failed

Sensors inside stay clean in dusty environments

Figure 2. Sensors inside stay clean in dusty environments

Flour mill installation

Figure 3. Flour mill installation

3D Differences from Conventional Level Measurement Sensors

The difference between 3D scanners and conventional level measurement sensors are:

  • Reliable in dusty environments
  • Accounts for uneven material surfaces
  • Detects sidewall buildup
  • Provides visualization of material surface
  • Improves inventory accuracy
  • Estimates material volume
  • Appropriate for very large bins

Radar Sensor Shortfalls

Disadvantages of radar sensors are:

  • Only a few models with high GHz perform reliably in dusty environments
  • Measures level only at a single point in large vessel, does not take into account uneven topography
  • Provides level only at one measurement point, but not volume
  • No visual of material in the silo to detect high and low spots
  • Costly, time-consuming maintenance or air purge needed for cleaning
  • Can only view level of one vessel at a time – must view each sensor separately

Selecting the Right 3D Scanner

How to select the right 3D scanner is shown in table below.

Model S M MV MVL
Bin Height Up to 200’ Up to 200’ Up to 200’ Up to 200’
Bin Diameter Up to 14’ Up to 45’ Up to 45’ Unlimited. Number of units determined per application.
Beam Angle 30° 70° 70° 70° for each scanner
3D Visual No No Yes Yes
Output Data Average distance Estimated volume plus minimum, maximum, and average distance 3D visual, estimated volume plus minimum, maximum, and average distance 3D visual, estimated volume plus minimum, maximum, and average distance
Best Application Tall, narrow bins with little or no corrugation Wide bins, taller than they are wide Wider bins, taller than they are wide Very wide bins
All models can be used in silos with a larger diameter than specified, but with decreased accuracies as the beam angle will not span the entire surface of the material.

Multiple Point Measurement Means Better Accuracy

Multiple point measurement eliminates guesswork and inaccurate readings. It is capable of measuring uneven topography that randomly forms inside bins. It accounts for cone up, cone down, or material buildup along bin sides. It detects irregular surfaces caused by multiple fill and empty sites. It determines absolute surface level values, volume and mass inside a bin. Operations can buy and sell commodities at the right time.

Food Processing

Challenge

Challenges of food processing were better stability and accuracy, primary interest is headroom distance, requires a desired 3D visualization, material prone to rat-holing and buildup and the old equipment was not working properly.

Proposed Solution

MV scanners were installed on all 21 tanks and all the tanks were monitored by 3DMultivision software.

Benefits

The benefits were more precise headroom, mapping and visualization for material prone to buildup and rat-holing, ability to monitor multiple bins with one solution and to improve inventory accuracy for very large silos.

Improve Inventory Accuracy for Very Large Silos

Two or more scanners were installed in a single vessel. Multiple scanners continuously measure and map material surface. It covers a greater surface area for more measurement points for greater accuracy. Software combines data from multiple scanners to provide a single 3D visual image. It is useful in large grain bins such as 105’, 130’ or million bushel bins. Scanner No 1 was mounted near the center of the bin.

Grain Storage

Challenges

The challenges are:

  • Large 105’ diameter bin
  • Contains dusty corn
  • Concerned with employee safety

Solution

The solution is

  • MVL model with 3D visualization
  • 3DMultiVision software

Benefits

The benefits are:

  • Improved volume accuracy
  • More frequent, more reliable data
  • Network viewing by multiple users
  • No more climbing

Site-Wide Inventory Management from a Single Screen

The features of site-wide inventory management form a single screen are:

  • View all bins at once – no tedious “one-at-a-time” opening of new window for each bin
  • Set alerts for high or low status for each vessel
  • One click access for a detailed bin view
  • Suitable for a network of mixed scanner models
  • Data is stored in a database and accessed on Local Area Network (LAN)
  • Multiple users from multiple departments can access data base
  • Customize views for just the tanks and data needed by each user
  • Historical reports for managers, purchasing and financial use

Monitoring Corn and DDG Silos

Monitoring corn and DDG silos

Figure 4. Monitoring corn and DDG silos

Historical Reporting

Historical reporting

Figure 5. Historical reporting

Ethanol Plant

Picture Scanners are installed on all four large silos.

Challenges

The challenges faced in the ethanol plant are extremely dusty corn bins, large bins with uneven topography, greater accuracy required and levels of multiple bins need to be monitored.

Solution

The solution is MVL-2 systems on 75’ diameter concrete silos and 105’ diameter steel bins, MV 3DLevelScanners on DDG concrete silos and MultiVision software

Benefits

The benefits are working in dusty environment, tracks level during fill and empty, improved inventory accuracy, ability to monitor levels of all bins in real time and optional neck extensions. The scanner can clear obstructions that may interfere with acoustic signals. The transducers assembly is lowered below obstacles, through a thick roof, or on a raised socket. Kits available in 2’, 4’, 6’, and 10’ lengths with either galvanized or stainless steel pipe. Performance is without signal degradation or special structural alterations or adapters.

Storage

Challenge

Challenges include a large concrete silo with obstructions in top of bin, very wide, large silos and desired better accuracy in dust.

Solution

The solution is a neck extension to clear structure and installing an MVL model with two scanners and 3D visualization.

Benefits

The benefits are improved volume accuracy using two scanners to cover surface, non-contact technology requires minimal maintenance and a safer work environment for employees

Angled Mounting Adapters

While using angled mounting adapters:

  • Scanners must be mounted in an optimal location to provide the greatest level of accuracy
  • Use when installation in desired location isn’t possible or must use existing hole
  • Points transducers in desirable direction to improve coverage of the material surface
  • Supports angles of either 10° or 20°
  • Use only when mounting scanner in most desirable location is not possible

Teflon-Coated Sensors

Benefits of Teflon-coated sensors are that it resists buildup inside transducers in extremely dusty environments. It ensures performance in powdered, granular or solid materials generating excessive dust when bin is filling or active. It significantly extends the maintenance cycle by reducing need to clean device after prolonged periods of use. It reduces need to climb tall silos enhancing safety and saving time.

Soybean Meal Processing

In a soybean meal processing application, transducers were becoming blocked and needed to be cleaned every week. Since installing the Teflon-coated transducers, sensors have not been blocked. Slick, self-cleaning surface requires minimal maintenance.

Similar Applications

Similar applications include the following:

  • Food processors in industries such as baking, pasta, and sugar
  • When non-contact technology is a requirement
  • Any material that is prone to clinging

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by BinMaster.

For more information on this source, please visit BinMaster.

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Comments

  1. Miguel Iniguez Miguel Iniguez United States says:

    We are TBC Brinadd producing fracking liquids and need to measure inventory in storage Silos, can you quote the best instrument for this inventory measure?
    Silos weigh loaded 150,000 lbs max we need conversion with PPG to Gallons dynamic reading,

  2. Mose Nyaanga Mose Nyaanga Kenya says:

    Are you suppliers of Binmaster or this 3D sensor is part and parcel of Azo sensors?

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of AZoSensors.com.

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