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OEMs get high-tech sensors without the unnecessary high cost

April 7, 2020
In this sponsored content, we talk with strategic business manager for OEMs of VEGA Americas James Case

Advanced technology isn’t just for high-volume mega industries. While oil & gas production requires the latest automation technology, it often comes with a high price tag that makes it unattractive to OEMs who don’t always need all the extra bells and whistles.

Just what do OEMs need, and where can they find it to keep their monitoring capabilities at the top of their games? VEGA Americas OEM Strategic Business Manager James Case has spent his career helping engineers find safer, more efficient solutions through innovative process measurement instrumentation. He answered several questions regarding how OEMs can benefit from new technologies that improve process monitoring without breaking the bank.

JAMES CASE
Strategic Business Manager for OEMs,
VEGA Americas, Inc.

Q: VEGA has been busy with the launch of three new product series, all at the same time. Can you explain what they are and why they’re needed in the market right now?

A: We’ve developed and launched a new series of low-cost radar sensors, level switches and pressure sensors. We’ve seen an increase in demand for low-cost, low-demand products that skid builders can use to monitor and control processes. These solutions allow them to monitor and control aspects that were too cost-prohibitive in the past. These solutions are low-cost, high-tech products. We’ve taken our experience on very demanding applications, such as those seen in the chemical and oil & gas industries, and we’ve stripped away unnecessary features so food & beverage and municipal industries can benefit from them. They’re operating on the same engines, so they’re just as reliable and accurate as our high-demand products.

Q: How did the development of these products come about?

A: VEGA has always positioned itself as a leading next-technology company to satisfy market needs. We’re always taking feedback from customers. Most of these features we’re adding are in response to that. Price is always paramount, so we wanted to provide a solution for our cost-conscious customers. They often don’t have the budgets to pay for instruments that the oil & gas industry can afford. Nor do they need the high-demand features of that industry.

Q: How do these new products and the data they provide help OEMs to improve operating efficiency?

A: All of these products have digital protocols available. One feature is IO-Link interfaces, making them easier to integrate, especially in the food & beverage industry. These products not only give more data about the process, but also about the instruments in the process, which enables predictive maintenance. It gives them a bigger picture of what’s going on. All of the products are Bluetooth-enabled. With our free-to-download app, you can easily connect to these new devices. It’s opened up to anybody, making it easy with a graphic interface for set up and troubleshooting. It’s also password-protected, so security is not a concern.

Q: Can you talk a little about the new radar technology?

A: Our new radar products are meant to be a direct replacement for ultrasonics. We too have a line of ultrasonics, but this technology has many downsides that radar resolves. Because ultrasonics use a mechanical wave, they are prone to inaccuracies due to weather, temperature and buildup on the antenna. Those don’t affect radar. You’re getting a more reliable and accurate measurement for the same price with these new products. Our new radars improve upon the 80-GHz technology VEGA pioneered in 2015. That technology gives the sensors a narrower signal focus, providing a more reliable measurement. Plus, all the newer sensors use a smaller microchip, which enables VEGA to make our sensors small and compact.

VEGA ALL THE WAY

The new VEGAPULS series is available in a compact version with cable connection housing and in a standard version with fixed cable connection (IP68). The new series is complemented by the VEGAMET controller, which can be used to visualize all measured values. The new VEGABAR compact pressure sensors with switch function and VEGAPOINT capacitive level switches are perfectly tailored to standard applications. One special feature is the 360° status display, which can be set to any one of 256 different colors and can easily be seen from any direction.

Q: What differentiates the new pressure and point level sensors?

A: The color range is a prominent feature with our pressure sensors and point level switches. All of them are more compact and have IO-Link capabilities, which we’re seeing an increased demand for. With this 360° light ring, which is an industry first, you have high visibility on the plant floor, so any employee can walk by and easily know what’s going on in the process even from a far distance. This is all customizable with 256 colors available through our VEGA Tools app. Our point level switches use capacitive technology, and they can be used in liquids and solids, as well.

Q: How has VEGA addressed customers’ needs when introducing new technologies in their plants?

A: One of our key tenets is simplicity. We like to make things as easy as possible. With our new line of radar sensors, the same radar can be used for either solids or liquids. You determine that in the setup. With our VEGA Tools app, which is free to download, it’s a very simple interface, which walks you through a graphical user interface that incorporates pictures. Someone who doesn’t know much about programming or processes can easily step through it. We are also happy to help our customers with setup through our factory-trained salesforce or our knowledgeable service team. We also offer training at our VEGA Americas campus in Cincinnati to make sure our customers are getting the most out of their VEGA instruments.

There are three different methods to set up the instruments. The first is via Bluetooth using the VEGA Tools app. Setup can also be done through more traditional methods such as PACTware software, and some of the products have a display you can program through, as well.

Q: Given size constraints, how are tools being developed that consider the small shop footprint?

A: One nice feature of these products is they’re all very small in size. VEGA has been known for having some of the smallest instruments in the industry. Like other technologies, we continue to see a reduction in the size. Our new products are no different in this sense. We’ve provided these new high-tech products in a very small footprint. Production floor space costs money, so we’re able to help our customers achieve a smaller footprint and reduce the associated costs.

Q: Are any of these new products being offered with the necessary protection ratings and approvals, so users can take them out of the cabinet and mount them directly into the process where they’re needed?

A: All of our new radar sensors are rated at least IP67, and more than half of them are rated IP68. This enables them to be completely submerged underwater at different depths and still continue to function. We designed all these newer radar sensors specifically with the water and wastewater treatment industries in mind. These sensors are often outside, so they need to be able to withstand rain, snow, direct sunlight and the occasional flooding situation when instrumentation is underwater.

Our radar sensors come with multiple wiring and mounting options customers can choose to best fit their needs. Half the new radar sensors already have a cable attached, so it’s a matter of connecting the wiring into the system. The other radars have a housing that customers can wire into.

As for our new pressure sensors and point level switches, they’re more tailored to the food & beverage and pharmaceuticals market, so they’re more tailored for hygienic applications. We even created an adapter system to keep spare-parts inventories at reasonable levels.

For more information, visit www.vega.com.

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