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A simple radar formula for better processes

VEGA has ushered in a new era with the radar sensor VEGAPULS 6X.

How do you optimise a level sensor that already has everything? What sounds like an obvious question has led VEGA to create much more than just an even better sensor. When using the new VEGAPULS 6X, it’s not just the sensor that counts, but what can be achieved with it in the application: better processes.

The search for a suitable radar sensor traditionally begins with the question: which frequency would work best for this particular application, 26 GHz or 80 GHz? Or perhaps 6 GHz would be better? This is followed by thoughts about the properties of the media and how it could influence the measurement, as well as the specific installation environment. 

Furthermore, the temperature range or the presence of aggressive chemicals may give cause for concern. Will a standard process fitting be sufficient, or will special materials that meet the highest requirements be the right choice, if only because the user is not completely sure and wants to be on the safe side? 

And what else should be considered if the sensor is to measure great distances or be exposed to wind and weather all year round?

These and countless other questions make one thing clear: with such a wide choice, you also have to make the right selection. 

Customers have to choose from the large variety of radar sensors that are currently on offer. Because the areas of application are becoming more multi-faceted and processes more complex, the buyer needs a good understanding and overview of what’s on offer on the market. It takes the right know-how, experience and time to avoid making costly bad investments and get a reliable measuring system.

A NEW CERTAINTY: “ONE FOR EVERYTHING

Until now, choosing an instrument was a laborious process and often involved a lot of questions and product research. VEGA is working to turn this process inside out with its new VEGAPULS 6X. 

“Ultimately, it’s not the sensor that counts, but what the users can achieve with it in their individual applications”, VEGA product manager Florian Burgert said. “Just knowing that they’ve chosen the best possible instrument solution, and that they’ll reach their goal faster with it, makes a big difference in their everyday operations.” she said. 

VEGA now offers one sensor for all applications, VEGAPULS 6X, and selecting the right frequency or determining the Dk value of the medium is no longer an obstacle. 

The new configurator asks the type of application and then quickly determines the sensor version is required. The entire procedure now consists of a few mouse clicks. Of course, an advisory discussion with a radar specialist is still a good alternative if necessary. 

The result is improved simplicity for users and a measurement solution that delivers results independent of media properties, process conditions, vessel shapes and internal installations.

VEGA’s story began 30 years ago and includes milestones such as the world’s first two-wire radar instrument and the first 80 GHz radar sensor for liquids. There are now more than one million VEGA radar instruments in use worldwide – in industries such as chemical, energy, food, oil and gas, and many others. With each new instrument generation, the focus is always on high sensor quality.

FOUR-STAGE ALL-ROUND PROTECTION

VEGAPULS 6X offers a number of technical innovations. 

It is equipped with a comprehensive safety concept that conforms with all the requirements of Safety Integrity Level (SIL). The certified sensor has strong SIL characteristics and provides the necessary operational safety to minimise risks in safety-related applications. 

Cybersecurity is another increasingly important focus and VEGAPULS 6X conforms to IEC 61511, which fulfils the strictest requirements for security of system access and communication control. It thus ensures comprehensive process security right through to the control system.

An important third aspect of the radar sensor’s safety features is its self-diagnosis system. It continuously monitors the function of the sensor and recognises if it has been impaired in any way, contributing significantly to higher plant availability and sensor performance.

Central to these features is a new second-generation radar chip from VEGA. With no chip available that would have met all requirements, the company’s research and development team set to designing one themselves. 

“The result pretty much consolidates our entire radar experience from three decades”, VEGA product manager Jürgen Skowaisa said. “In its scope and functionality, the chip is unique in the whole world.” 

The chip is characterised by low energy consumption, high sensitivity, scalable architecture and universal applicability. The radar antenna system and chip are directly connected (no cable) maximum performance.

NEW IN A DIFFERENT WAY

In addition to the technical aspects, the VEGA radar team addressed questions that went beyond product design: What will be the long-term impact of this technology on the people who use it? How can their work be simplified? What future goals of industry can be realised?

This new approach gave rise to the impulses that make VEGAPULS 6X different. By considering users and process conditions of their applications, other points came into focus. These include challenges in using measuring instruments, such as adjustment procedures, constant pressure to increase efficiency, and time constraints in general.

The task of level sensors is to make it easier for users to monitor industrial processes. Sensors often make processes more controllable and efficient, but even if they are easy to use the process of selecting the right one can still be difficult. 

Skowaisa sums up the strategy in pursuing VEGAPULS 6X as “maximum simplification”. 

“Until now, there were many different sensors that could be used for an application, but with VEGAPULS 6X there is one sensor for all applications,” he said” 

Set-up and commissioning have been reduced to a minimum, requiring just a few clicks and the input of basic data. 

“Our customers can even order a sensor that has been factory-calibrated, customer-specific down to the last detail, that only has to be installed and connected. It doesn’t get any easier than that,” Skowaisa said.

With VEGAPULS 6X, VEGA has rounded out its radar measurement technology with four innovations: more safety and self-diagnosis, new radar chip technology, new application possibilities, and simpler adjustment. 

“Our technology has reached such a high level that reliable function is no longer the issue,” Skowaisa said. “The only risk now is choosing the wrong sensor.” 

Thanks to the new approach, VEGA provides the tools to get the right sensor version for the application in 99% of cases, the company said, with experienced application engineers on standby to help with more difficult applications. 

“In the future, the user will no longer have to worry about the technology, frequency or instrument version; the measurement will simply work,” Skowaisa said. •

For more information on the VEGAPULS range, visit vega.com/en-au

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