Energy usage guage could improve process control

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Control theory

A motor load sensor can ensure accuracy during batch mixing as well as reducing waste, says its manufacturer.

US firm, Load Controls, said that the Universal Power Cell Kilowatt Hour (UPC-KWH) has been designed specifically for precision process monitoring and control where monitoring energy usage accurately is critical to the production process.

The company said that initially it only targeted machine tool/grinding applications in the automotive industry with its units, but said that it soon became apparent that measuring power had many applications in food and plastic processing - the motor could be used as a sensor due to the fact that motor power is linear with load.

“Automating a process by adding or restricting the in-feed of ingredients or determining end points in batch operations soon became our target applications,” ​said Bill Allen, sales manager, Load Controls.

Measuring procedures represent critical control points all along the industrial food supply chain as they play a vital role in quality control.

Batch mixing

Allen told that the most suitable application of the UPC-KWH for power accumulation in food processing would be batch mixing and dough mixing, essentially processes where the ‘recipe’ is controlled by energy absorbed in the process.

“Power is a linear measurement of work by the motor. Applications such as viscosity in blenders and mixers or flow in pumps and fans are easily profiled,” ​explained Allen.

He said that as a batch is processed, the power changes will reflect the viscosity changes and a good batch will fit the normal ‘profile’ for that product.

“By determining an endpoint based on the profile of the power, productivity is greatly increased, while periodic samples during the process are no longer needed to determine viscosity,”​ claims Allen.

Wastage eliminated

He said that the UPC-KWH allows precise, repeatable product processing and thus is likely to save processors time and also prevent wastage, which translates into financial savings: “Power is a direct measurement and the process can run continuously until the endpoint is reached,”​ said Allen.

According to the company, the unit can also be used in the extrusion of plastics, where accumulated power is indicative of extruder process throughput.

The company said that the UPC-KWH measures and accumulates power Kilowatt Hour (KWH) and has both an analogue output of instantaneous and pulse output for Kilowatt Minute (KWM) or Kilowatt Second (KWS).

Simple installation

The UPC models greatly simplify installation, said Allen, as the self-contained UPC is located in the control cabinet, thus eliminating the need for holes in tanks and also the moisture or wash-down problems associated with the use of other sensor types.

He added that there are no current and voltage transformations to complicate the installation.

“Other in-process sensors have to be mounted into the mixing environment which is intrusive and time consuming, needing much maintenance. The UPC requires no maintenance once set up,”​ according to Allen.

He added that the UPC-KWH retails at $750 (€510), which is cost effective when compared to other methods of ‘inline’ process monitoring equipment such as inline viscometers.

Vydas International Marketing are the UK-based suppliers of the motor load sensors.

Related topics Processing & packaging

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