In the 1960s, Georg H. Endress asked his developers to create an all-metal sensor that reliably measures everywhere. Then, increased customer enquiries for high-temperature and -pressure applications made clear that capacitive probes could not cover all tasks in the field of level measurement. This was the birth of radiometry. Within a very short time, this alternative measuring principle developed into a perfect addition to the existing Endress+Hauser product range. Much has happened in the meantime: since the launch of the Geiger-Müller counter and the first rod scintillator, more than fifty years have passed.
An important milestone in the field of radiometry was without doubt the development of the Gammapilot FMG60. With this device, Endress+Hauser introduced the first multifunctional compact transmitter to the market. Since requirements in the field are constantly evolving, it became time to prepare the detector of the future.
Fields of application
The Gammapilot is used in process vessels such as reactors, autoclaves, separators and cyclones, and measures in both liquids and solids. In addition to the detection of the level and point level, it is also suitable for density and interface measurements. It works where other measuring principles cannot be applied due to corrosion, abrasion, viscosity or toxicity. The new Gammapilot FMG50 is particularly suitable for metal applications as well as in the oil and gas industry, but can also be found in chemical applications.
Innovative 2-wire technology
In many industries, 2-wire technology has been the preferred instrumentation for a number of years. In the field of radiometry, technological hurdles in high-voltage generation prevented the development of a 2-wire compact transmitter. Until now, the components of the detectors required more energy so that direct connection to a control system (PLC) was not possible. Even conventional 2-wire devices could only be used with an external power supply due to the separate transmitter system. The Gammapilot FMG50 uses unique, patented high-voltage generation and requires only a fraction of the energy of its predecessor to reach the same measurement performance.
This revolutionises radiometric measurement and offers valuable advantages over conventional 4-wire and 2-wire devices. As additional installations and wiring for a supply voltage are no longer needed, considerable cost savings are achieved over the entire life cycle of the measuring point.
This eliminates purchase and installation costs for additional cables and reduces the planning effort to design the power supply. In addition to monetary advantages, the 2-wire concept offers benefits for safe and simple maintenance. Especially in hazardous areas, maintenance is now simpler and safer than with conventional devices. Before, the power supply had to be interrupted and secured against being switched on again.
Replacement is also quick and easy, and thanks to an exchangeable data module, there is no need for re-parameterisation or recalibration anymore. In addition, diagnostic functions and direct feedback on the device are available in the field, i.e., the user can see whether the maintenance work was successful even before the power supply is switched on again.
Everyone working to modernise their company for the digital future must continually optimise both their information technology and the field level. This requires sensors that provide relevant data for initiating process optimisations and efficiency boosts. In the technology roadmap to ‘Process sensors 4.0’, NAMUR requests to open up a second, mobile way for communication with the sensor, which provides information for preventive maintenance and process optimisation. NAMUR also requires that product information such as manuals or certificates are always available on site in a mobile form.
With the latest generation of Gammapilot, operators communicate with the sensor using Bluetooth and the SmartBlue app from Endress+Hauser, which makes all product and diagnostic data available. Another benefit of the Bluetooth functionality is remote commissioning of the device, particularly relevant for measuring points which are difficult to access.
The diagnostic function of Heartbeat Technology indicates the status of the Gammapilot, with the performance of the instrument determined by more than 50 parameters. The permanent self-diagnostics guarantee safe system operation with extended proof test cycles. In addition to the current device diagnostics, the verification via Heartbeat enables complete documentation without process interruption.
Heartbeat Technology monitoring also supports predictive maintenance. The user receives valuable information about the operating time of the radiation source for the corresponding application, as well as about the lifetime of the sensor. Such instrument data enables trend detection, which means that maintenance measures can be planned and implemented in a targeted manner and unnecessary plant downtimes can be avoided.
Manufacturers which develop their measuring devices according to IEC 61508 set up their devices to be used directly in SIL applications. This requires comprehensive quality management with a focus on safety aspects.
Hardware and software are designed in ways that avoid systematic errors. In addition, the hardware needs control of random errors and a quantitative calculation of failure probabilities. In addition, devices must fulfil the prerequisites for the planned application regarding, for example, temperature, and they need simple and clear user documentation and a product safety handbook. Users who buy devices designed for functional safety save much time, since the qualification effort is handed over to the manufacturer. The formula is simple: more effort by the manufacturer leads to savings for the customer.
The Gammapilot FMG50 has also been developed according to IEC 61508 for use in SIL2 and SIL3 applications, and is currently one of the safest radiometric devices on the market. It offers the SIL functionality for all measuring tasks (level, point level, density and interface). The newly implemented, user-friendly SIL Wizards reduce systematic and human errors, while other safety-relevant parameter settings can be confirmed during commissioning, and continuous device diagnostics of safety-relevant functions take place during operation.
Sensor technology for use without additional water cooling
In applications with high temperatures, conventional instruments require additional water cooling to ensure trouble-free measurement. The Gammapilot FMG50 solves this challenge with high-quality sensor material. In addition, the innovative sensor design ensures minimal self-heating of the device electronics, and thereby contributes to use without cooling. By eliminating the need for water cooling, planning, installation and operating costs can be saved.
Advantages of the new Gammapilot FMG50 at a glance
• Universal measuring principle for use in extreme applications.
• Savings in engineering and installation thanks to innovative 2‐wire technology.
• Safety-by-design: developed according to IEC 61508 for use in SIL2 and SIL3 applications.
• Heartbeat Technology reduces verification efforts without interrupting the process.
• Innovative sensor technology for use without additional cooling.
• Bluetooth wireless technology for easy operation.
• Intuitive user interface.
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