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Silo Load Monitoring

Plant operators need to continuously measure bulk material levels/weight in their silos and hoppers to ensure their processes are running safely, efficiently, and without bottlenecks. Measuring these levels allows operators to automate vessel filling, verify material consumption, and prevent overfilling.

How do you measure bulk material levels/weights in silos and hoppers?

The two ways to measure bulk material quantity in silos/hoppers are level indicators (laser, ultrasonic, radar) and weight measurements (load cells, strain gauges).  Weight measurements are more accurate, safer to install, and can be installed during operation.  Of the types of weight measurements, ITM prefers to implement strain gauge-based solutions since they do not require structural modification of the vessel.

An ITM silo monitoring system typically consists of weatherproofed strain gauges for each silo leg and a NI CompactRIO embedded controller to acquire data, process signals, and output results. Systems are scalable to accommodate all the silos at the plant.

The graph above shows a typical trend of real silo data during unloading.  Weight levels are sent directly to factory DCS systems and historians via common communication protocols like Ethernet/ip and Modbus, or they can be viewed on the system’s webpage or a local/remote workstations and panels.

What are the challenges when measuring bulk material levels/weights?

Most bulk material storage is outside, so temperature and other environmental factors must be accounted for not only in the durability of the equipment, but in the sensor design and data processing. Changes in temperature, wind, and humidity can result in changes to the load path in silo legs. Load changes are account for by instrumenting all or most of the silo legs and selecting the appropriate strain gauge bridge design which results in continuously accurate weight measurements.

While other systems require calibrating the system with known loads (point calibration), ITM calibrates the system using a shunt voltage across the strain gauge bridge. This process automatically calibrates the system and eliminates the requirement of having pre-known material weight added to the vessel.

For more information about silo monitoring, contact Ryan Matthews @ 1.844.837.8797 x706.  To see how ITM’s structural load monitoring systems work watch this video.

video link: https://youtu.be/TwVtDYLkFKs.

Welcome Aboard Zach Strong

I’m excited to announce that our team is growing with the addition of Zach Strong.  After graduating in May of 2020, Zach recently moved from Co-Op to a full-time engineering technician position. Zach’s primary role as an engineering technician is to assist with industrial monitoring solution installations and field testing applications. In addition to his work in the field, Zach works in our instrumentation lab assembling and testing custom control panel assemblies, installing strain gauges on customer components, and building and testing customer monitoring and measurement systems.

We welcome Zach to our team.  You can read more about our entire team here.

— Vice President of Operations –  Ryan Welker

Testing Services Team Annual Safety Training

I want to congratulate my colleague Ryan “RJ” Matthews on a job well done as he recently administered ITM’s annual safety training.  RJ did an excellent job presenting the material and addressing questions. His efforts will certainly help us stay focused on our vigilance toward workplace hazards.

For strain gauging or test services, contact Ryan Welker @ ryan.welker@itestsystem.com or ‪(844) 837-8797‬ x702

ITM Winter 2020 Yeti Cooler Giveaway

Our engineering services department is sponsoring a Yeti Cooler Giveaway.  This giveaway runs from January 6th, 2020 to February 28th, 2020.  To register for this giveaway and view the official rules click the Register Now button below.

Contact Ryan Welker via email:ryan.welker@iTestSystem.com or phone: 1.844.TestSys x 702 for help with any structural testing, strain gauging, and industrial monitoring applications.

Happy Holidays 2019 from ITM

May your homes be filled with warmth and your hearts with joy.  ITM wishes you a happy holiday season and a new year full of prosperity and adventure!

FFFFFantastic ITM Team Building Weekend: Norris Lake, TN

ITM held its an annual team building over the weekend of October 11th; fun, fish, food, fire, and firsts ensued.

I would like to thank ITM owner Tim Carlier and our host Ryan Welker for a fantastic weekend at Norris Lake, TN.  It was great to hang out and get to know our team outside of work.  Now let’s get to all those Fs.

Food, Fun & Firsts.  The weather was amazing on Friday (mid 70’s).  After everyone arrived and a lunch of grilled hamburgers, hotdogs, brats, and grilled sausages prepared by Ryan, we all went for a four (not three) hour boat tour of the lake.  On the tour, Ryan, Todd, RJ, and Zach all took turns wakeboarding.  It looked like some of the wipeouts hurt more than others.  Some of the boaders reported bruising and extreme soreness.  To alleviate their aching muscles, we pulled into a secluded cove and floated with life vests in the soothing 76 degree water.  While floating and storytelling, we learned a few things about each other, among them, that this was Zach’s first time boating and water skiing and that no one believes my stories.

More Food, Fishing & Fire. After returning to the dock and another Zach first, some of us tried our hand at fishing while Ryan again cooked for us.  Dinner was salad, grilled steak, baked beans and baked fresh blue gill.  After dinner, everyone (almost) headed down to the patio by the lake for drinks and relaxation around the fire ring.  I hear that it was a late night around the hot fire and that the team likes story telling.

More Fun, Fishing, Fire. Saturday, we woke to a brisk, breezy, and drizzly morning and Todd sleeping on the porch.  Ryan fixed us goetta, bacon, and eggs which were delicious.  While Ryan was cooking, I went trolling for fish in my fishing kayak equipped with a fish finder.  Apparently, fish like to stay as far away from my boat as possible.  The fish finder said they were at least fifty feet below my boat.  My excursion was abruptly cut short by a monsoon.  Luckily, I was only 50 ft from the dock, so I only had to empty one inch of water from my kayak.

As we waited for the fog to clear, some of the team decided to turn fishing into a competition.  Todd ended up winning the tournament because he caught a turtle and the rock that I caught didn’t count.  The teams fishing tally: 9 Blue Gills, 1 Channel Catfish, 1 Red Eared Slider (turtle), 1 pair of corroded $400 Ray Ban sunglasses, and a rock.

At three o’clock the dense fog that drifted in after the fishing tournament finally lifted and the remaining team went on a boat cruise to the big water of Norris Lake.  With the temperature in the upper 50’s this ride was a little different than the previous day.  It was the first time I wore flannel with my swim trunks.  RJ was the only one brave enough to wakeboard, because we convinced him that he would be warm while in the water.  From his face while he boarded and the goose bumps when he got back on the boat, I don’t think the warm water helped.

After the boat ride and another great dinner (slow cooked ribs) by chef Ryan, we all retired to the patio again for drinks, music, and more story telling.  The full moon, roaring fire, falling hickory nuts, and the iPhone 11 led to a picturesque evening.  RJ used all of the new features of the iPhone camera to make sure it was well documented.

I believe that our team building weekend was a huge success.  All of us got to work together in a completely different environment than usual and I believe that everyone can appreciate each others contribution to the team.

Notes: other weekend notes that didn’t start with F.

Tim’s pellet gun is loud and probably scared off a few fishermen.

Deerfield lives up to its name.  I saw at least 100 deer over the weekend.

Golfing in the fog at Deerfield is fun for everyone, except for the deer I almost killed with an errant low fairway wood shot that skidded under its legs.  Ryan said it jumped and looked confused.

Everyone wanted to get fruit and veggies on the way home after eating all that meat.

ITM Provides Global Solutions

ITM provides software development, structural and mechanical testing services, industrial monitoring, strain gauging, and data analysis solutions to clients on five continents.  ITM is located in Milford, OH, but our software and hardware packages are used throughout the world.  For the past 18 years ITM has traveled to where our specialized services are needed.  Whether it is performing tests at 16,500 ft in the Andes Mountains or on oil rigs in the Gulf Coast, installing strain gauges at extreme temperatures, or monitoring systems in the US or on the other side of the world, ITM understands the challenges of working in tough environments and will ensure your projects are successful whether home or abroad.

If you need tests performed or monitoring systems developed anywhere in the world, contact Ryan Welker (ryan.welker@itestsystem.com or 1.844.837.8797 x702).