When it comes to process monitoring, customers from the machine tool, automotive, food and beverage, or the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries, for example, expect level sensors to measure reliably and precisely. SICK products not only work with a wide range of media, but also record the respective measurand as universally and independently of environmental conditions as possible. But how are process measurement technology solutions themselves actually checked before they are used by the users?
Before users decide on a sensor solution, they want to ensure that their choice works in the system concerned and under its specific environmental conditions for as long as possible without malfunctioning. For example, the point level measurement in buffer tanks is one of the key applications in filling systems and machines. The exact level must be measured to ensure a continuous flow of liquid to the filling systems. SICK level sensors undergo a range of test procedures before they are used by the customer on site.
Improved testing conditions
At the end of May 2014, SICK AG opened a new research and development building at its Waldkirch site. Covering more than 600 square meters, this building has state-of-the-art laboratory rooms, including a test laboratory for level measurement. Thomas Weber, Group Manager of Development from the Industrial Instrumentation division at SICK explains: “The new test laboratory has now greatly improved the working and testing conditions. For instance, we can now carry out tests on five-meter-high tanks, tests in foam containers, and tests on dirt deposits to name but a few. The new build also contains space for technical training sessions and direct practical demonstrations.”
Test measurements with various tanks and media
With regard to quality assurance, in addition to the extensive product quality tests prescribed by SICK as standard, additional tests are carried out with products in the Industrial Instrumentation division. Level sensors continuously measure levels and record limit values in the process engineering, protection, or storage areas. During this, a wide range of medium properties, installation situations, and environmental conditions must be taken into consideration. This is because level sensors are, for example, also used in the machine tool industry for monitoring hydraulic oil, water/oil mixtures, coolants and lubricants, cleaning solutions and agents, in the automotive industry for monitoring filling systems or in the food and beverages industry:
Industrial processes, with demanding environmental conditions, such as particularly high temperatures, especially place higher requirements on sensors. “For this reason, all level sensors undergo test measurements, such as linearity measurements, for the purposes of verification and type testing in test tanks purchased specifically for this purpose,” explains Thomas Graner, designer from the Industrial Instrumentation division at SICK. “This means that we can carry out test measurements with various tanks and media in the test laboratory. We have tanks with various diameters and levels, as well as plastic tanks for tests in addition to stainless-steel tanks. This allows us to simulate specific environmental conditions as they would occur at the user’s site.”
Quality assurance during final production
After an extensive testing procedure, a test concept is developed for the final assembly. Using a failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), possible process and assembly faults that could occur during final production are established. “These possible faults – for example, faults in the electronic functionality or even faulty mechanical parameters, such as the probe length of the LFP – are established in a final inspection of all the products produced, which ensures quality for the customer,” explains Thomas Graner. Because SICK provides reliable sensors that ensure that processes run efficiently and fluidly.
Intelligent fluid sensor solutions from SICK