Dave Baker is systems performance engineer for the Liquid-Level Sensors group of MTS Systems Corp.’s, Sensors Division. Mr. Baker’s experience spans over 18 years with MTS, including manufacturing, service, sales, and product development. Dave has been exposed to a variety of other technologies with his many years in the field working directly with customers determining their needs. Dave has used this knowledge to enhance the products offered by MTS and has been a key resource in developing new ones.
Q: How has level sensing technology evolved over the past 5-10 years?
A: There have not been many new technologies entering the market in the past five years, but there have been enhancements and improvements to existing offerings. Most of these improvements have been in accuracy and reliability, or the use of radios to provide a wireless option.
The newer electronic components are more exacting in their internal processing, allowing for more sampling without sacrificing update time to provide more accurate readings.
As technologies develop, the components themselves are more reliable and are available in smaller packages. This enables manufacturers the ability to provide modular products creating a plug-and-play system. If only one part goes bad, it can easily be replaced without having to send the whole device back to the manufacturer for repair.
Radios allow for monitoring remote locations where installing wire and piping conduit is cost prohibited. This allows the user more flexibility and opens new avenues for instrumenting tanks that could not be monitored by conventional methods.As this segment improves, it will allow manufacturers to more easily integrate into their existing product offerings without the need for a separate box.
Q: What’s the difference between point level sensors and continuous level sensors?
A: Typically, point level sensors are used for general-purpose applications where the main focus is not on accuracy, but on not overflowing the tank. In a chemical tank used for a process, the key is to have enough in the tank for the process, or knowing when more is required.
As long as the device is accurate to ½”, then the user can determine at what point they need to add more product to the tank.
Continuous sensors are used when accuracy and knowing exactly how much is in the tank are the driving factors. For example, in a high-grade alcohol tank, where the customer is taxed on the amount of inventory and or the usage out of the tank, it is very important to have high accuracy and repeatability (typically 1⁄32” or better) to assist with record keeping.
Q: What advantages does magnetostrictive level sensing technology offer over other level sensing instruments?
1. Magnetostrictive sensors offer better accuracy and repeatability than most sensor types, while maintaining an excellent cost of ownership.
2. Magnetostrictive sensors can measure two different phases and/or temperature in a vessel at the same time with one instrument.
3. Magnetostrictive sensors are float-based, and thus are not affected by foaming or changes in the dielectric constant of the fluid.
4. MTS magnetostrictive sensors, for example, come in sizes up to 65 feet in length, which allows them to support the majority of tanks.
Q: What are some best practices users can employ to ensure they are specifying the appropriate level sensor for a given application?
1. Specify a sensor that provides an adequate length so the gauge is long enough to be in contact with the bottom of the tank for added support.
2. Specify the proper materials of construction for the pipe and float to ensure chemical compatibility.
3. Specify the appropriate float for the specific gravity range of the fluid they will be using.
Q: What are some of the key features users should be looking for when specifying a magnetostrictive liquid level sensor?
1. Ease of installation. (Our longer flex gauge, for example, can be installed by one person.)
2. Easily replaceable/serviceable parts that do not require you to take the tank out of service.
3. Customer service/support after the sale.