Volume 2, Issue 2

Iowa Limestone Automates Bin Inventory with SmartBob II

It is a dusty, time consuming, seven-day- a-week job, but somehow it must be done. There are 21 silos at Iowa Limestone Company in Weeping Water, NE, ranging in height from 30 to 60 feet. They contain a variety of materials that include calcium, phosphates, bentonite, potassium, and special limestone products. Monitoring the level in this application presented a variety of challenges. General requirements for the inventory system included four absolutely essential capabilities:

  1. Reliably measure all ingredients which include very dusty powders, light bulk density materials, and abrasive minerals;
  2. Operate reliably in extreme heat and cold of Nebraska weather;
  3. Measure accurately while the tanks are filling;
  4. Operate all 21 silos with a single control system.

 In this difficult application, SmartBob II by BinMaster proved to be the very best  choice when compared to competing cable-based sensors, and technologies such as ultrasonic, radar, and light beam products that are adversely affected by dust. In actual side-by-side tests with competitive systems, the SmartBob II has time and again come up the winner.

 Information from the 21 SmartBob II remotes at Iowa Limestone is fed into an IBM compatible PC equipped with BinMaster’s Inventory Management Software (IMS). The system is set up to take automatic measurements at 7:00 AM, 12:00 Noon, 3:00 PM, and 11:00 PM. Once a day the inventory readings are automatically emailed to the corporate office in Des Moines. On-demand  measurements can be taken at one location inside the plant and at two load-out stations with SBC push-button consoles. This allows operators to choose any of the 21 silos and instantly retrieve measurements.

Iowa Limestone now has a safe, reliable, and accurate system.

New SmartBob  II Wireless Network Solutions

BinMaster’s new wireless data transceiver eliminates the need for running long spans of communication cable by providing affordable, two-way wireless data communication between SmartBob II remotes mounted high on top of storage vessels and a control source on the ground. BinMaster’s long- range wireless data transceiver operates in the license-free portion of the FCC designated industrial frequency band at 2.4 GHz.

Designed to work in high interference environments, the wireless transceivers combine advanced frequency hopping and digital signal processing technology with outstanding receiver sensitivity and antenna diversity resulting in exceptional noise and interference rejection and peace of mind for you. Wireless data networks can be effective in new SmartBob installations as an alternative to wired connections, and also can be used to expand the capabilities of existing systems.

The Benefits of having a Reliable Inventory Measurement System

  1. SAVE LABOR COSTS: The labor required to check bin levels on a regular basis can be significant. Through automation, the inventory measurement process is instantaneous and labor free.
  2. SAFETY: Safety is always an issue when having to climbing atop tanks to check the level. Automating your inventory measurement greatly reduces the user’s risk of employee injury and Workman’s Compensation claims.
  3. REDUCE MISTAKES: Reduce the risk of mistakes and accidents due to overfilling or running out of material that can result in excessive downtime.
  4. CONFIDENCE BUILDER: Gives you the confidence in knowing that your bulk storage is continually being monitored and is error free.
  5. RESPONSIBILITY SHIFT: With automated inventory management, responsibility for maintaining adequate levels of inventory can be shifted to the supplier. The user no longer needs to have someone check the tank levels and report to purchasing on a regular basis. Tank levels are checked automatically by devices that do not forget or call in sick. The vendor or supplier can control the amount delivered and the time of delivery.