Monitor Fill Level of Liquid in Mobile Drum

Mobile Drum Fill Level Application Image

Customer Requirements: Fill level monitoring of adhesives in portable drums to prevent overflow

Solution: K50U Wireless Ultrasonic sensor, TL70 wireless tower lights, DXM100 wireless controller

Why Banner? Versatile, moveable solutions – wireless products easily adapt to changing floorplans without disrupting workflow 

Customer Benefits

Fewer interruptions – real-time results of the fill level status allow for proactive work and prevents time spent on cleanup of spilled adhesive

Non-contact solution – doesn’t touch the liquid and won’t leave residue or buildup on sensor or impact sensor function

Background

A global electronics manufacturer was experiencing issues with drum levels of a highly viscous epoxy used in assembly and turned to automated products for a solution. Portable drums were filled with the adhesive material for use on the production floor, which is often reconfigured. Issues arose when employees would begin filling the drums and then walk away because it took a very long time for each drum to fill up with the slow-moving fluid. This caused many drums to be forgotten and overflow. The resulting cleanup and maintenance was a hassle and became a significant problem. A solution is needed that can monitor the fill level and alert operators of fill status before a mess is made. 

Challenges

This specific type of fill level application can prove to be challenging when looking for solutions. The liquid inside the drums is very thick and stiff which makes reliable detection difficult. The drums also need to be portable and wireless because they get moved around frequently. The floorplans change with the requirements of the warehouse and each drum needs to be easily transported to the larger tanks for filling. These tanks use gravity to fill the drums. The portable drums make wired solutions difficult and reducing the number of cables is a better fit.

Alerting employees of fill status while they are working on other projects can present a few problems in busy warehouse and assembly areas. This type of environment can easily become hectic and with loud machinery that creates ambient noise, making indication difficult. Reliable and effective indication is needed to prevent errors and overflowing epoxy. 

Solution

Wireless level monitoring is possible with Banner Engineering’s K50U series wireless ultrasonic sensor fixed atop the drum and synched up with a DXM100 system. These sensors were developed specifically to monitor remote and mobile tanks and drums. The ultrasonic sensor points down at the contents and accurately detects the surface level using sounds waves. It provides a distance measurement from the sensor to the target. This works well with thick and slow-moving substances because sound waves won’t get interrupted easily by shifting surfaces or reflected light.

It was made with a rugged design to withstand demanding environments and is rated IP67 and NEMA 6P. The sensors connect easily to a battery powered wireless node with integral 5-pin quick disconnect. The battery-powered node supplies power to the sensor and is easy to deploy and install. A sensing range from 300 mm to 3 m makes it ideal for detecting fill levels. Wireless products also eliminate the need for long cable runs and adapt to various settings and applications. Setting a shorter sample rate could provide years of battery life.

TL70 tower lights with wireless connectivity are an all-in-one solution that alerts operators of fill level status while they are on the warehouse floor so that they can continue with their other tasks while the drum slowly fills up. The large 70mm segments are made with two banks of bright LEDs that stand out against overhead bay area lighting yet appear gray when turned off to eliminate false indication. The TL70 tower lights are also available with an audible alarm to further alert operators, especially in areas with noisy ambient sounds.  

Conclusion

Frequent spills and messes during drum filling led to a solution driven search for wireless products that can monitor fill levels. Ultrasonic sensors work very well with viscous and thick liquids and can be incorporated into a wireless setup for ease of use and clear indication of fill status. Indicator lights are also now available with wireless capabilities, such as the TL70 tower light and K70 domed indicator lights, so indication can be used throughout an entire warehouse facility to warn operators of full drums before it becomes an issue. These products work together so that the production process can continue to run smoothly without interrupting employees’ day-to-day tasks.

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