Field report: Running like clockwork. Interview: Structured setup a great benefit.
Field report: Perfect coffee enjoyment. Field report: Reliable, hygienic and simple.
Focus: Breaking barriers with innovation. looking forward: Simpler is better.
Simple. Reliable.
VEGA Journal
Simple. Reliable.
Safely guided – even in difficult terrain.
Self-learning signal evaluation and innovative hardware are two things that make the heart of every
engineer jump for joy. Realists might respond with a bit of scepticism, as they are basically only
interested in ready-to-use measured values. However it is now indeed possible to reconcile intelligent technology with simple operation and this is amply demonstrated by the new guided wave radar
sensors of the VEGAFLEX 80 series.
The introduction of the plics® instrument platform ten
years ago was a revolution in the world of process measurement technology. It was, and still is, a platform concept that
radically simplifies level and pressure instrumentation. At
the time, what seemed unthinkable for many users became a
reality: compact housing, a standardized adjustment concept
and short delivery times. To achieve this, the instruments had
to be modularly designed. Users have shown how highly they
value the plics® idea and the concept of the platform: in the
past ten years, over 1.4 million plics® instruments have been
sold worldwide.
Inspired by this success, VEGA has continued the plics®
concept in the development of the new VEGAFLEX series 80
guided wave radar, and set the bar even higher. Beside the
simple instrument selection and menu-guided setup, the
focus has also been on improving reliability and measurement certainty. True to the motto: “Simpler, more reliable
and more versatile”, the new VEGAFLEX series 80 has an
extremely wide range of application, yet is very easy to set up
and saves the entire instrument history automatically.
Self-learning sensors
For VEGA simplicity in level measurement equates to operational reliability and thus guarantees higher plant availability. It also means that in the event of instrument exchange,
malfunction or extension of the system, downtime should be
as short as possible.
To make life easy for the user, the new VEGAFLEX 80
sensors have a whole array of intelligent algorithms, with selflearning electronics and interface measurement technologies
Cover story
as standard. VEGA knows that many users just want reliable
readings – the technology behind it all is secondary for them.
So one of the biggest challenges was bringing the new intelligent functions and algorithms together and embedding them
into a practical instrument, without the user even noticing
the complexity of the software.
One example of this simplicity is the setup procedure. Studies
have shown that more than 20 % of all production disturbances or stoppages result from incorrect setup and adjustment. This is now avoided with VEGAFLEX 80 sensors:
as soon as a VEGAFLEX is electrically connected, it starts
measuring the level. The user is then guided through a setup
in a maximum of six steps, which optimizes the measurement
for the particular application.
Wide application spectrum
The series consists of four different instrument types, each
of which is perfected for a particular application; facilitating
system planning considerably. VEGAFLEX 81 is optimized
for use in liquids; VEGAFLEX 82 is extraordinarily robust
and thus ideal for bulk solids. When it comes to the measurement of food, pharmaceutical or aggressive products,
VEGAFLEX 83, with its resistant materials and specially
finished surfaces, meets all the appropriate requirements on
hygiene and durability. VEGAFLEX 86 was developed specifically for high and low temperatures as well as high pressure
applications, such as the conditions found in distillation
The all-rounder for liquids
Whether in small vessels, such as dosing tanks, in standpipes, reaction vessels or even tank farms – the GWR
sensor VEGAFLEX 81 delivers reliable, accurate readings
for feedback control systems or Emergency Shut Down
protection devices. While the measuring probe is continuously monitored, the intelligent measurement dataprocessing
adapts dynamically to the specific process conditions. This
means absolute security in level measurement of liquids. For
applications in toxic or hazardous media, the VEGAFLEX 81
GWR probe is equipped with a gas-tight feedthrough, which
acts as a Second Line of Defense. There is also a special version
for ammonia which covers applications within this particular
medium; by using a glass seal it effectively prevents diffusion
to the outside atmosphere.
Automatic probe end tracking
The VEGAFLEX 82 guided wave radar level sensor is specially
developed for level measurement of bulk solid materials.
The instrument measures solids with a very low reflectivity
(dielectric constant) over measuring ranges up to 70 meters,
in metal or concrete silos and even during pneumatic filling.
The practical effectiveness achieved by innovative technology
can be demonstrated with the example of VEGAFLEX 82’s
automatic probe end tracking: when a container is empty,
the end of the probe appears at the actual distance, i.e., the
total length of the probe. When filled with non-conductive
product, part of the microwave energy also penetrates through
it down to the probe end. The pulse is reflected back and
VEGAFLEX detects this signal in addition to the product
level echo. The greater the permittivity (dielectric constant)
of the medium, the greater the run-time error of the signal
from the probe end.
Through this, VEGAFLEX 82 always knows the current
permittivity of the medium. As the level rises, the probe end
gets further away. So, if the level echo itself is not detectable, or no longer detectable, VEGAFLEX 82 automatically
switches over to probe end tracking (indirect level measurement). It then looks at the end of probe echo and uses this
to calculate the level using the most recent dielectric constant
value. If the level echo becomes visible again, the instrument
switches back to the direct measurement mode. With this
technique, almost all bulk solid materials can be measured –
even those that were previously not measurable with guided
wave radar.
Another unique feature is the automatic length detection. In
practice, almost all probes have to be ordered longer because
the exact length can often only be determined on site. Once
an instrument is ready to be installed, the technician will
shorten the probe on the spot, then the new probe length has
to be manually measured and input into the sensor. The new
VEGAFLEX 82 determines its probe length automatically,
thus shortening the setup procedure considerably.
Consistent further development of the plics® concept:
Guided radar for level and interface measurement.
VEGA Journal
VEGAFLEX learns the measurement environment and compares it with the echo
history of the application. In addition, it
detects whether the echoes move or remain
static at one point. For the sensor, a moving
signal is much more likely to be the level
signal than static signals. Motion detection
thus effectively prevents the evaluation of
false signals. The result is a continuous and
maintenance-free measuring system.
Event memory in real time
High accuracy is also required for trouble­
shooting. The more accurate the information for the technician or maintenance
staff, the faster the instrument can be up
and running again. Many asset management functions, whether for preventive
maintenance or immediate corrective
action, have been implemented in the new
The event memory records everything that a VEGAFLEX 80 “experiences”
in its daily routine in the plant.
Simple application in complex processes
Cleanliness and hygiene are paramount in applications with
food and pharmaceutical products. With its bare rod probe of
stainless steel, the hygienic version of the guided radar sensors,
VEGAFLEX 83, is the clean solution for sensitive liquids and
solids. The hygienic design (Ra ≤ 0.38 microns andIP 69K)
allows simple, reliable cleaning of both measuring probe
and stainless steel housing with high pressure or steam jet.
Stainless steel according to Basel Norm 2 ensures the instrument can be used in the biopharmaceutical industry. With
the autoclave version, the housing can be separated from the
sensor in a few simple steps enabling the measuring probe to
remain in the container during autoclaving. PFA and PTFE
coated VEGAFLEX 83 versions resist all aggressive media.
For high and low temperatures (-196 ... +450  °C) as well as high
pressures up to 400 bar, VEGAFLEX 86 is the right choice. Its
durable construction and dual process seal ensure a high safety
level in production facilities with extreme process conditions.
For saturated steam applications in boilers, VEGAFLEX 86
has automatic runtime correction. This ensures accurate and
reliable measurements in every phase of operation. Here, too,
the automatic sensor monitoring system enhances plant safety
and the second process seal (second line of defense) protects
employees and production equipment.
Reliable echo detection
The intelligent algorithms also make a difference in the way
they increase the accuracy of signal processing. To put it more
graphically: in signal detection, the largest echo usually wins
out. But such echoes might be caused by installations in the
container, product buildup or a water under a hydrocarbon.
The function of automatic probe end tracking: The higher
the level rises, the farther away the probe end appears.
v1:Speed of propagation in air
v2:Reduced propagation speed in the medium
1: Signal from the probe end in the empty tank
2: Signal from the probe end in the filled tank
d: Distance difference between probe end signals in
empty and filled tank
Cover story
Ready for delivery: Interest in the new GWR sensors is great.
Among these are the status messages according to NE 107
or VDI/VDE 2650. There is clear text display of the device
status, documentation in the integrated event memory with
real-time stamp an indication of measurement certainty and
the electronics temperature. An event memory in particular
makes work easier during ongoing operations. All events,
such as malfunctions, status or parameter changes, are logged
in the sensor. Within seconds the entire instrument history
with time stamp is available to the technician for fast and
reliable diagnosis.
VEGAFLEX 80 sensors have a battery-backed real-time clock
for generating the time stamp. The battery keeps the clock
going until the instrument is connected to the power supply –
which lasts up to 4 years, after that, an internal energy storage
element supplies the clock up to one month in the event of
a power failure. So, together with the internal energy storage
unit, the system ensures that the clock always displays the
correct time over the entire service life of the instrument.
Periodic inspections at the push of a button
The new generation of VEGAFLEX 80 instruments saves
time, not only through menu-driven setup, reduced training
requirements and minimized maintenance, but also, and just
as importantly, through the speed and simplicity of ­periodic
testing. The periodic function test can be started via a mouse
click in the adjustment software. The electronics then perform
an additional check routine. This function test is virtually
­independent of the actual level in the application and has a
high fault detection rate. The test is even equivalent to filling
to the response point – the so-called ‘wet test’. This is especially cost effective as it can be performed without interrupting
Especially interesting for SIL applications: The instruments
were developed in accordance with IEC 61508 (2nd edition).
In single-channel architectures (1oo1), VEGAFLEX 80
sensors can be deployed up to SIL2. With homogeneous redundancy (eg 1oo2 or 2oo3) they are SIL3 capable. Setting
up SIL instruments is very simple too. A mouse click is all
it takes to verify all device settings or create the instrument
Ever since their market introduction, the VEGAFLEX
series 80 GWR sensors have convinced users of their suitability through their menu-guided setup, reliable measurement
data acquisition and simplicity. The field of application for
guided wave radar has grown significantly during this time;
for example, just a year ago, plastic powder (PE or PP) was
very difficult to measure with guided radar, if at all. Now it’s
possible, and it’s simple, reliable and guided.
VEGA Journal
The oil is stored underground in 7,000 to 40,000 litre
single and multi-compartment tanks.
When things run like clockwork
Whether the order is a small canister or a large tankful – at ENI Lubrication Engineering, every customer
is treated like a king. The prerequisite for targeted, speedy delivery of lubricants is a precise and
reliable inventory monitoring system covering all storage tanks. This is an ideal application for the new
GWR sensor VEGAFLEX 81.
Ten years ago you could count the number of existing
varieties of motor oil on one hand, but since then the
picture has changed dramatically. Today, around 50 different
motor oils are available for private use just in the automotive sector alone. The background of this rapid development
is that today’s engines are manufactured with much greater
precision than those of a few years ago. “Meanwhile, every
manufacturer invests millions of euros in the development
of engine oil to make engines operate more efficiently and
reduce emissions. Consequently, engine oils are very accurately matched to the engines they’ll be used in. The result
is that almost every car manufacturer now needs its own
special oils,” explains Stephan Schwarz, head of production
summarizing the current situation.
For many years, the Würzburg company ENI Lubrication
Engineering GmbH (formerly Agip) has specialized in
creating tailor-made lubricants and delivering them to its
customers in the automotive as well as other industrial
sectors. From Würzburg, around 80 employees supply the
whole of Europe with high-tech lubricants. This also includes
the production of small amounts of additives. The forms of
Field report
packaging range from 250 ml cans to 1000 litre IBCs (Intermediate
Bulk Containers). “Over the past decade, the world of lubricants has
changed a lot – consulting has increased and the quality of the products
has been significantly improved,” continues Schwarz. ENI delivers well
over one hundred different kinds of lubricants. Correspondingly high
is the number of mostly underground tanks, which can be found in the
two rather inconspicuous company yards; only a second look reveals
the underground treasure buried here. The company-owned tank
farm consists of tanks with 82 tank chambers and a total capacity of
1.6 million litres. The most popular in the company’s product lineup are
replenished two to three times a week.
The raw products are usually delivered by the Italian parent company via
road tankers and, after a quality check in the laboratory, discharged into
the tanks. A pneumatic valve closes automatically when the maximum
alarm is triggered. The product is then transported to the filling points
via pumps, where it is decanted into the appropriate containers.
Time for a change
Today, a quick glance at the level display in Stephan Schwarz’s office
suffices to get informed on the exact levels in all 82 tanks, but this was
not always the case until a few months ago, measuring the levels in the
many of them was associated with a lot of effort. Firstly, the measuring
instruments (from another manufacturer) were already 18 years old,
so every now and then there were problems in procuring spare parts.
Secondly, the capacitive measuring principle in use was no longer appropriate from ENI’s perspective as this technology entails a relatively high
drift. “Theoretically, we should have dismantled every single probe and
re-calibrated it once a year. We didn’t do that because of the high costs,
and ENI was in full agreement with that decision. However, we did
check every single measurement point once a year with a dipstick and, if
significant deviations were found, dismantle and re-calibrate the respective probe,” explains Sven Stratenwerth, head of the service department
View of the courtyard of ENI Lubrication Engineering GmbH with underground
lubricant tanks. Under the open manhole pit is a double-walled storage tank.
ENI Lubrication Engineering GmbH is a 100 %
subsidiary of ENI Deutschland GmbH since
1988 and resident in Würzburg since 1901.
From Würzburg, approx. 80 employees supply
the whole of Europe with hundreds of types of
The particular strength of ENI Lubrication
Engineering is shipping production orders in
different package sizes – from 250 ml cans to
1,000 litre IBCs. ENI sells AUTOL, the oldest
registered motor oil brand in the world.
at Göhler Systems Engineering. His company is
responsible for the complete maintenance of the
tank farm at ENI Lubrication Engineering.
Another weakness lay in the batteries of the
signal conditioning instruments. Previously, they
were replaced every three years to ensure that
the measured values were preserved in case of a
power failure. “Precautionary replacement of the
batteries took a great deal of time but now it is not
necessary, because the measuring probes send their
data directly to the PLC in the control cabinet,”
Stratenwerth reports.
The GWR sensor VEGAFLEX 81 with coax probe is used for
level measurement. A VEGASWING 63 tuning fork level switch
is installed for redundant overfill protection.
VEGA Journal
ENI Lubrication Engineering decided to replace
the ­capacitive instrumentation with GWR probes
of the VEGAFLEX series. “We then decided to
exchange all probes at once rather than gradually
replace individual probes,” says Schwarz. “What
biased us in favour of VEGA was the fact that
we had already installed four sensors from the
VEGAFLEX series a few years earlier.
“We were so pleased with these sensors that we
chose VEGA again for the large-scale exchange,”
says Schwarz emphatically. So the company
ventured – with support from Göhler Systems
Engineering – to take the big step and the new
VEGAFLEX 80 series instruments have been in
use at ENI since February 2013. Although they’ve
only been on the market since last summer, they
have already set milestones when it comes to user
friendliness. In total, 79 VEGAFLEX 81 units were
installed; there are now 83 tanks at ENI equipped
with VEGA instruments. The probes forward the
measurement data to the PLC and the data is then
sent from there to the central level display and to
the SAP system.
Replacement during ongoing operation
Although this was a new type of probe, setting up
the 79 units caused no major difficulties. “Instead
the challenge lay more in coordinating the dates for
installation, since all the probes had to be installed
during ongoing operation of the facility,” recalls
Schwarz, laughing. For Stratenwerth, replacing
a level probe is just a part of daily business, but:
“In order not to jeopardize the ongoing processes,
we had to keep a close eye on the level during the
exchange – it was vitally important to prevent the
pumps from running dry and update the control
system probe for probe,” continues Stratenwerth,
describing the procedure.
It was thanks to the simple handling of the new
VEGAFLEX series that the installation went off
without any major hitches. Only two months after
commissioning the instruments, Schwarz draws a
positive conclusion about the transition: “Life has
become much easier for us. Not only has the cost
of maintenance gone down, but our daily work has
changed for the better – it can’t even be compared
with how it was before. Accuracy is now higher,
and, what’s really nice, is one glance is all it takes to
get up to date on the contents of the tanks.”
“We benefit greatly from the structured
­setup of plics® sensors.”
Sven Stratenwerth, service department manager at Göhler Anlagentechnik, Hösbach
VEGA Journal: What were the
special aspects of the installation
at ENI Lubrication Engineering?
Stratenwerth: When you install
level probes in new facilities
there are usually few surprises,
but things are very different
when you replace such instruments in existing facilities.
The main challenge during the installation of the 79 VEGA­FLEX
instruments in the tank farm at
ENI was that we had to replace
a large number of probes during
ongoing operation. At the same
time, we were dealing with a
new type of instrument; setting
it up and putting it into operation, however, turned out to be
easy – as is usual with VEGA
VEGA Journal: How did
VEGA support you during the
Stratenwerth: First, I must say
that the general teamwork with
VEGA was superb. Cooperative
partnership is a very important
criteria for our work as a systems
builder. When we had questions
we were given straightforward
support immediately – and that
is true not only for the ENI project.
On many projects we are
­responsible not only for the level
instrumentation but also for
with the supervisory authorities,
etc. Unresolved questions have
to be answered in a timely
manner in order to complete
such a project successfully.
VEGA Journal: Can you give
us a practical example of such
problem solving?
Stratenwerth: During setup
and initial operation of the new
VEGAFLEX level sensors at
ENI there was a problem with
signal transmission. It turned
out that the new instruments
needed a steady, reliable supply
voltage, which was something
the old control cabinet tech­
nology could not deliver. We
called VEGA and they immediately sent a technician to Würzburg to help us troubleshoot and
solve the problem. Installation
of the remaining probes then
went smoothly.
VEGA Journal: What role does
the plics® concept play for you as
a system builder?
Stratenwerth: We benefit greatly from the structured setup and
commissioning. Maintenance of
the instruments is very simple, in
the end we need only one tool for
servicing: the VEGA­CONNECT
interface converter together with
the PACTware ­adjustment software.
VEGA Journal: To what extent
has work as a system builder in
your area of business changed?
Stratenwerth: We realize that
the topic of SIL is becoming
increasingly important also in
the area of level measurement.
Experts from technical surveillance organizations are now demanding more and more
frequently SIL qualification of
overfill protection systems in
­liquids are stored.
In my opinion, the topic of
communication and information processing – for example,
password-protected access to
real-time measured values via
web server – will also become
more and more important in the
Many thanks for your answers.
VEGA Journal
Roasting is one of the last, but most important, steps on the way to
a perfect cup of coffee. It gives the coffee its flavour and colour.
Precise level measurement for
perfect coffee enjoyment
Roasted beans, ground and doused with hot water – also known simply as coffee – has been
a popular drink since the mid-15th century. Whether as a morning stimulant, a pick-me-up or simply
a delicious beverage for a break, worldwide consumption of this versatile drink is steadily increasing
and it is now more popular than ever.
To meet the growing demand for coffee, its production has to
be optimized and expanded. One of the latest developments
in this area are the one-cup servings for quick and easy preparation. In addition to the coffee capsules, so-called coffee pads
have also been on the market since 2001.
One of the largest producers of coffee in Germany is the
company Markus Kaffee GmbH & Co KG in Weyhe. Also
known as Albrecht Kaffee up until 2003, the roasting house is
a 100 percent subsidiary of the Aldi Nord Group and employs
100 people at its plant in Weyhe.
Nowadays, the production of coffee and its packaging is done
mainly by machines, yet selecting the coffee beans, roasting
them and creating the “right” flavour still requires humans,
and especially the expert tasting skills of the roasting maestro.
Field report
Profitable coffee production
“One example of the high degree of automation in coffee production
is the packaging of ground coffee. With just one packaging machine,
Markus Kaffee can fill more than 55,000 coffee pads per hour. This is
only possible with state-of-the-art machines and automated processes,”
explains Jochen Lehmann, the process specialist jointly responsible for
the measurement and control technology in the Weyhe plant.
An important part of each packaging machine is the upstream intermediate tank that holds exactly 200 kg of ground coffee, ensuring continuous operation of the packaging machine. These intermediate tanks are
fed by large silos that can each hold 1.5 tons of ground coffee. The large
silos are filled directly from the grinder.
To make the whole operation as efficient possible, one grinding run has
to suffice to completely fill the large silos. It is also necessary for the
silos and intermediate tanks to be completely empty on Friday evening.
Unpacked ground coffee left in the silos over the weekend loses its aroma
and can no longer be used. That would have considerable economic
implications for Markus Kaffee.
Exact knowledge of the filling capacity and contents of the four large silos
is the basis for meeting these requirements. Until recently, rotary paddle
switches as min/max detectors were used to regulate the contents of the
tanks. To ensure that all the ground coffee slides out during emptying,
the conical floors of the silos are forcefully vibrated, but this is extremely
hard on the mechanical rotary paddle switches. The resulting, and very
necessary, periodic maintenance of these sensors and the very inaccurate measurement of the silo contents are the major drawbacks of this
mechanical measuring principle.
Markus Kaffee did not consider the use of load cells for the continuous
measurement of their silo contents to be viable alternative to rotary paddle
switches. Installing load cells on existing silos is much too complex and
therefore too expensive.
However a continuous level measurement with guided radar, with its
simple installation at the top of the silos and completely maintenancefree operation, offered Markus Kaffee enough advantages to “risk” a trial
run earlier this year. The goal was to find a reliable, continuous level
measuring system for cost-effective control of coffee pad production.
Markus Kaffee GmbH & Co. KG is a German
coffee and tea producer with production ­facilities
in Weyhe near Bremen and in Herten. The
­company roasts coffee and makes tea ­products
for Aldi Nord. Markus Kaffee was founded in
1969 and now employs a total of 140 people at
the two locations.
Reliable echo in the silo
The VEGAFLEX 82 sensors, which are specially
optimized for bulk solids, were mounted toward
the centre of the square, 3 meter-high silos with
conical outlet, so that they could detect most of
their content. A VEGAMET 381 was connected
to each sensor to display the measured values in
The low dielectric constant of ground coffee was,
until recently, a particularly challenging measurement with guided radar. But thanks to the probe
end tracking function of VEGAFLEX 80, which
was recently developed for such applications, this
difficulty is now a thing of the past. This automatic
function contributes significantly to the reliable
level measurement of ground coffee and was an
important deciding factor for Markus Kaffee.
The VEGAFLEX 82 sensors installed give Markus
Kaffee the performance they need with more flexibility and more options for cost-efficient control of
production than the previous measurement technology. The work involved in mounting and setup
was minor and the entire installation is expected to
pay for itself within a very short time.
VEGAFLEX 82 measures the level precisely in the 3-meter high intermediate storage silos. The measurement is independent of the angle of repose
and low dielectric constant of the ground coffee.
VEGA Journal
Steam generator in one of Azbil’s production facilities. VEGAFLEX 83
monitors the level in the water chamber.
Reliable, hygienic and simple
Reliable level gauges are an important component of the high-tech equipment used in the pharma­
ceutical industry, for example in steam generators and autoclave sterilizers. They guarantee safe,
reliable operation but also have to meet the requirements of a good design, which, in this industry,
means good cleanability. And if the gauges are also easy to install and operate, then all the better.
Azbil Telstar Technologies, a large Spanish systems manufacturer for the pharmaceutical industry, specializes in the development and manufacture of high-tech system solutions for
the pharmaceutical and biotech industries as well as many
related sectors. Its product range includes GMP freeze dryers
with automatic loading/unloading systems, equipment for
the production of water for injection (WFI), dry heat ovens,
water distillation plants, pure steam generators, steam autoclaves and much, much more.
It is especially important for pure steam generators and steam
autoclaves to operate continuously in order to comply with
the strict hygiene regulations. Reliable level measurement of
the process water is absolutely essential for this.
If the level gauges employed can also reduce the operating
costs of the entire system, both manufacturers and end
customers benefit in equal measure.
Field report
Steam generation
Pure steam generators from Telstar separate out the impurities contained
in the water and produce a high quality pure steam. They consist essentially of a cylindrical evaporator, i.e. an expansion chamber, and a heat
exchanger for heating and evaporating the water. With this configuration, the so-called thermosyphon effect is generated, allowing simple and
convenient regulation of the steam generation. The steam generator is
basically an energy storage device, which, thanks to its water reserves,
ensures a constant production flow even at peak times. Measurement
of the water level is crucial for proper system operation and a constant
supply of steam.
This is where Azbil Telstar Technologies relies on the guided wave radar
sensor VEGAFLEX 83 for level measurement in the steam generator.
The analogue measured value can be adjusted to the various switching
points and level alarms with the control system (HMI).
Unlike float gauges with a magnetic measurement system, VEGAFLEX 83
requires no additional accessories and does not have to be mechanically
adjusted if the switching points are changed. The option of adding as
many switching and alarm points as are needed in the controller is a
great advantage that Telstar exploits to provide customers with a flexible
control system.
The international, family-owned enterprise
Azbil Telstar Technologies was founded in 1963.
Telstar has its headquarters in Barcelona and
employs 900 people. The company has production facilities as well as sales and engineering
offices all over the world.
The company group offers engineering and
systems solutions for the pharmaceutical and
biotechnology industries as well as for research
and science institutions. 3 % of its turnover is
invested in research and development of new
technologies and equipment.
Since 2012, Telstar is part of the Japanese
Azbil Corporation, where it is leading the
­establishment of the new division Life Science
Steam is generally used to sterilise solid objects such as clothing,
equipment components, filters, etc. But liquids in closed or vented
containers can also be sterilised.
The hygiene standards for the manufacture of sterile products have
risen steadily in recent years. The regulations for sterilizers require that
equipment manufacturers be able to validate their processes. That means,
the repeatability of the production cycles and the control of the employed
devices and their functions must be traceable.
For the autoclaves that perform their sterilisation cycles with steam and
require continuous level monitoring in the partially filled water chamber,
Telstar relies on VEGAFLEX 83 and the advantage of being able to
control multiple switching points. A simple task for guided radar.
Simple and reliable
With VEGAFLEX 83, Telstar not only meets the hygienic requirements
but also simplifies the level measurement itself. Unnecessary mechanical
components are avoided and reliable level information is made available
to ensure flawless operation of the equipment.
This increases the availability of the system, both in terms of steam
generation and sterilization in the superheated steam. In summary,
VEGAFLEX 83 offers greater safety, reliability and convenience for both
manufacturers and end users.
VEGAFLEX 83 in the bypass tube of the
steam generator. It measures independently
of condensate as well as process temperatures
and pressures.
VEGA Journal
A barrier breaking innovation
Vibrating level switches quickly reach their limits in applications with very high or low temperatures
and high pressure. So users are quite accustomed to resorting to other methods of measurement,
even if they require more maintenance. The new VEGASWING 66 fills this gap and is very much at
home in such extreme process conditions.
Temperature adapter
-196 °C … +450 °C
Inconel 718
Second Line of
Defense (Ceramic)
Inductive drive
Vibrating level switches are tried-and-tested components,
highly appreciated for their simplicity and reliability. Both
commissioning and signal processing are very simple, and, as
an added plus, the sensors are self-monitoring. In contrast,
other methods such as float switches or capacitive probes have
quite a few drawbacks, especially when it comes to applications in extreme situations. For example, corrosion damage
on a probe can go unnoticed for a long time. Vibrating level
switches that were available on the market reached their limits
as soon as temperatures rose above 280 °C or sank into the
cryogenic range. The reason being that the drive which excites
the tuning fork to its resonan frequency is based on piezo
technology, which is not designed for such extreme temperatures.
The development of the new VEGASWING 66, on the market
since February 2013, has now expanded the application range
considerably. A patented inductive drive effortlessly manages
to excite the tuning fork, even under extreme temperature
conditions. This means the user can take advantage of the
simple handling of vibrating level switches in an extended
temperature/pressure application range of -196 to +450 °C
and -1 to 160 bar.
In practice this means that the new VEGASWING 66 can
be set up and connected as easily as the proven models
VEGASWING 61 and 63. It also has the same built-in
self-monitoring of the vibrating element and electronics. A
function test can be carried out by simply pressing a button
and the sensor is qualified up to SIL2 in accordance with
IEC 61508 (up to SIL3 with homogeneous redundancy).
Like the other sensors, it detects the limit level regardless of
the type of liquid. Density, dielectric constant and foam do
not affect the quality of the measurement.
Reliable even in steam
Thanks to the new drive technology, completely new areas of
application are open to VEGASWING 66, one example being
the monitoring of steam boilers. Saturated steam is required
in many processes, e.g. for driving turbines in coal, gas or oil
power plants, and it is also used as a heat transfer medium
for heating. In the future, it could be used as “low-level” and
“high-level” limiter in such facilities. According to steam
tables, the maximum boiler pressure of 160 bar is equivalent
to a boiler temperature of about 345 °C. VEGASWING 66 is
thus suitable for over 95 % of all steam generators.
Thanks to adjustment-free setup and continuous monitoring
of the sensor element, point level monitoring in boilers or
even in cryogenic gases is simple and reliable.
With the new VEGASWING 66, VEGA has proven that
extreme process conditions do not necessarily mean having
to make compromises on safety and reliabilty when selecting
A VEGASWING 66 in combination with a VEGAFLEX 86
GWR sensor and a VEGAMET 391 signal conditioning
instrument makes up a special safety package. The signal
conditioning instrument has two SIL qualified relay contacts.
These are connected to the output signal of VEGASWING 66
in a diversely redundant configuration. With this setup, the
safety function of the high-level and low-level limiter can be
easily realized.
The advantages are especially demonstrated with the
function check. With other level limit devices, complex
test setups were needed for this. Now, the function test
requires no more than a quick press of a button or a brief
interruption of the supply line from the safety PLC. This
saves costs in continuous operation and allows a 72-hour
period of operation without oversight, in accordance with
approvals as per EN 12952-11* and 12953-9*. A boiler can
thus remain in operation around the clock, 7 days a week
(* available second half of 2013).
As expected the new extended temperature and pressure
range is in high demand within refineries and petrochemical
plants. But it is also useful in the chemical industry, where
high pressures are often encountered. Here this new device
finds an area of application ideally suited to its abilities. In
chemical plants, reliable level detection with fully monitored
sensors is normally only possible at great cost and effort.
Continuous measuring systems are often diverted from their
intended use and applied as limit switches, as many plant
operators do not trust float switches and capacitive probes.
VEGASWING 66 offers a reliable switching function here,
usually at significantly lower cost.
Conventional sensors also reach their limits at extremely
low temperatures, for example in cryogenic liquefied
gases. Temperatures in these applications are under
-100 °C and densities can fall below 0.5 g/cm3. That’s why
VEGASWING 66 was developed for densities starting at
0.47 g/cm³.
With its only 40 millimetre-long tuning fork,
VEGASWING 66 fits into almost any bypass
or extraction tray of a distillation column.
As a limiter for high and low water level in the
steam generator, VEGASWING 66 is the perfect
­complement to a continuous level sensor, such
as the TDR sensor VEGAFLEX 86.
Looking forward
“Simpler is better.”
An interview with VEGA managing director Günter Kech on the
development and advantages of the instrument platform plics®.
What was the starting point for the development of the plics® platform?
Kech: We had set for ourselves the goal of making measurement technology for process
automation simple. Back in 2003, there were no platform concepts in the area of
process instrumentation. A concept for the electronics and the housing was developed
independently and from scratch for each measuring principle. plics® represents a
common housing platform and a common operating concept. The different measurement methods are then adapted to meet that concept. Accomplishing this was very
difficult because the platform we had chosen was very small. There is still no other
manufacturer who has managed to house a radar instrument with such high performance in such a small space.
What’s in it for user?
Kech: Small size means that the quality is increased while
weight, resources and production costs are all decreased.
Plant engineers really appreciate that these instruments for
pressure and level measurement share the same design, have
common connection routines and behave very similarly when
being set up and put into operation.
What future developments do you think will increase
user-friendliness even more?
Kech: You only need to consider the ‘Industrie 4.0’ project to
realize that the networking of instruments will become ever
more important in the future, but that’s a longer-term issue.
Currently, it’s about making instruments so smart that they
can adapt themselves to application conditions through selflearning.
VEGA’s current operating software has to be able to operate
and adjust all of our instruments, including legacy devices.
We are the only one offering software with such capability.
With the aim of radically
simplifying level and pressure measurement technology, VEGA introduced plics®,
the world’s first standardized instrument platform, in
In many industries, instrumentation know-how has become
scarce. How are you adapting yourself to this situation?
Kech: Level measurement especially, is not an easy topic for
the user. We can provide the know-how for choosing the
most suitable measuring method.
Many customers – particularly in the field of logistics – really
don’t need measuring instruments strictly speaking; what
they need is the measured value. There will be customers in
the future who only want measured values from us, and our
business will then consist of providing that information to
How long will you continue to use and offer the plics® platform?
Kech: Continuity is an enormously important factor for our
customers. That’s why we’re banking on our platform and will
continue developing it. The plics® that exists today should still
be around 20 years from now. Because: Simpler is better.
Reprint from issue April 2013
Read the complete interview
and the plics® success story
on our website
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© VEGA 2013