The cost of storing materials along with related salaries, transportation, handling, taxes, insurance, depreciation, and shrinkage could add up to 10-30 percent of total inventory costs, according to Investopedia. One major manufacturer, for example, stores and uses alumina. Their carrying costs are $1.50 per year per 100 pounds. They consume 8 million pounds which means their carrying costs are $120,000 per year. They constantly monitor inventory levels to ensure their funds are not tied up in inventory while ensuring production continues.
Reducing carrying costs can boost profit. Managers can base inventory on the economic situation (when the currency depreciates, purchasing power decreases). Properly handling inventory can reduce the cost of storing products. An understanding of quantity and timeline might open opportunities for long-term agreements with suppliers as well.
Safety for people and production
For plant personnel, automatic inventory measurement systems by BinMaster have been a game changer, keeping personnel safe from climbing silos and making them more efficient. For production purposes, consistent and automatic measurements help maintain safety stock to mitigate stockouts leading to production stops.
It starts with measurement, sensor selection
Organizations forming a management system focused on maintaining lean inventories, an automated inventory sensor system is a must. BinMaster sensors measure materials in bins, tanks, and silos. The trick is to pick sensors appropriate for you (grains, powder, aggregate, etc.)
To estimate material volume, a single measurement point might not be enough data to calculate an accurate volume estimate. Some materials like powders and solids form irregular topography in the silo. Putting a single-point sensor in that silo might measure a hill or valley of material and could be very inaccurate. 3DLevelScanners might be the solution to hills and valleys because they account for uneven materials.
Acoustics-based technology called a 3DLevelScanner or 3DSolidsScanner, scans the material surface and takes multiple measurements to account for high and low spots in the silo. Scanning the surface reveals conditions such as cone up or cone down as well as buildup along sidewalls. Data from multiple measuring points are processed using advanced firmware and algorithms which provide a highly accurate volume measurement.
More sensors improve the result
If a bin is very large, two or more scanners can be combined into a system synchronizing measurements with a very high-volume accuracy. Multiple scanners can be added until their 70-degree beam angle covers the entire surface. Storage domes and large bunkers are good candidates for multi-scanner systems.
Heavy dust challenge
Many solids produce dust. It’s a challenge for sensors that measure inventory. The 3DLevelScanner operates at very low frequencies, eliminating dust as a barrier to measurement. It can perform consistently regardless of conditions inside a vessel. This technology works well for alumina powder, carbon black, detergents, polyethylene powder, silica granules, fly ash, and talc powder. 3DLevelScanners acoustic pulses help keep the inside of the scanner transducers clean in these dusty environments. A clean sensor will be more reliable and accurate.
Overcoming clingy materials
Dusty material stored in silos might require a sensor with a Teflon coating to resist “sticky” situations. Teflon is recommended when the sensor is being used to measure clingy materials such as flour, alumina, calcium carbonate, talc, soda ash, potash, lime, salt, sugar, cocoa, concrete, detergent, or cement.
Non-contact sensors prevent contamination
With acoustic sensors, nothing contacts material, making it safe for powders, granules, or other solids of all types. There’s no risk of equipment stuck in deep material as there is with plumb bob-style sensors. These scanners will not detach or fall into your silo or bin. 3D Level Scanners do not work with probes or cables that can wear out over time. Eliminating contact with the material helps ensure long life with minimal maintenance or cost.
Level and volume measurement
The accuracy of a 3D Level Scanner is driven by the size of the vessel, the presence of structure inside it, and the material that’s being measured. The device needs to have a clear view of the material surface. 3DLevelScanners are configured with multiple models at BinMaster.
• RL Model: Short for “Reliable Level” This basic scanner measures material in a narrow beam directly below the device, penetrating high levels of dust, and performing where other types of level sensors become unreliable or inaccurate. Typically, this model is used with materials less prone to buildup and in narrow or smaller silos.
• S Model: For simple level data, the S Model determines volume based upon an average level in the bin from multiple measurements taken within a 30° beam angle. This model often is used in narrow silos with diameters up to 16 ft and heights up to 200 ft. This model can also be used in wider silos, but with diminished accuracy as the 30° beam angle may not cover the entire material surface.
• M Model: This sensor measures from a broader 70° beam angle making it appropriate for larger diameter silos with uneven material topography. These sensors deliver data like the lowest, highest, and average distances based on multiple measurements. Due to its ability to scan the material surface and consider irregularities, a scanner can provide a very high level of volume accuracy from between one and three percent.
• MV Model: Top of the line. This sensor does everything the M Model does, plus adds a unique visualization feature. Using complex algorithms and a lot of processing power, this model generates a 3D image that indicates where the high and low spots are in the silo, shows if the cone is up or down, and detects sidewall buildup. This additional feature can be used to help manage filling and emptying points as well as detect if maintenance is needed to clean out buildup. This model is often used in large silos and in flour‐like powders and other types of materials that tend to pile up unevenly.