Level Measurement & Control

Laser measurement in the sugar industry

April 2000 Level Measurement & Control

Laser has been a relatively new distance measuring technique used successfully in sugar processing. The application in process control that these instruments are used for is level measurement to control the measurement in bins and silos. Laser level measurement is used in various industries; sugar, mining, food and beverage, chemical and paper and pulp industries. Laser M's laser products are designed to solve problems where distance and environmental conditions make each requirement unique. Laser is superior in the technological field for the following reasons:

Since laser travels at the speed of light, the update rate of the laser instrument is extremely fast. It can be aimed directly at a small target and be used to measure over long distances. Laser instruments have a 50 mm beam diameter, with virtually no beam divergence. The narrow beam will not pick up false echoes from surrounding obstacles.

The laser beam is not reflected, but scatters when it hits a target. The laser instrument will pick up a return signal from any angle. All Laser M lasers are Class 1 safety rated and are therefore completely eye-safe and can cause no damage.

The laser is locally designed and manufactured. One application is at a sugar mill in KwaZulu-Natal, where the sugar cane is crushed to remove sucrose. Once the cane has been crushed it is called bagasse. (This bagasse can be used for ceiling board or fuel for boilers.) A low power 10 m Owl lasermeter was used to measure the height of the bagasse falling onto the conveyor belt. The Owl was used effectively, both here as well as other applications, where the changing levels in silos or bins has been monitored. Other applications have been measuring silos or bins that fill and empty.

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