New sensors evoke real aha! Experiences

Dealing with persistent issues in measuring points that result in unstable or unreliable values can be quite challenging. Responsible technicians attempt to get stable values, but malfunctions or implausible measuring results occur again and again.

VEGABAR 38 reliably measures the pressure in emulsion lines and prevents pump failure

This is exactly the situation that existed in an emulsion line downstream from a pump. Only after VEGABAR 38 was installed did reliable measured values become available and pump breakdowns became a thing of the past.


Spoonable cappuccino foam, fluffy cream cakes and creamy soups – when the taste buds explode with delight, it’s not just because of the aroma, but often because of the consistency of the product. The Dutch company Kievit, which belongs to the FrieslandCampina Group, is a specialist in such taste experiences. Whether in food or drink, it’s the quality of ingredients that ensure a delicious taste, texture and sensory perfection. “Together with our customers, we develop ingredients for the food and beverage industry, such as foaming cream agents, coffee and cocoa blends, fat powders, whipping agents, functional blends, micro-encapsulation and cake emulsifiers,” explains Ger van den Berg, the man responsible for work preparation and planning at Kievit’s Meppel site. Technologies such as emulsification, spray drying, microencapsulation and agglomeration are used to convert liquids into powders or to give products certain properties. Microencapsulation is one example – it is a process that packages sensitive oils inside stable powders. Another is cake emulsifier, based on vegetable oil – this product has been specially developed for aeration and stabilisation of baked goods. It ensures a perfect, even distribution of air bubbles, which gives the mixture height and volume. And, by the way, emulsification is not only a matter of taste, but also of cost. Cake emulsifiers often enable a one-step process, so that production time can be shortened, and costs saved.

Long-term partnership

When it comes to pressure and level measurement, FrieslandCampina Kievit relies on sensors from Schiltach, and has done so for around 15 years. Over this time, a wide variety of sensors from VEGA have been installed across the plant. “I appreciate the reliability of the instruments and know that there’s no need to worry about them,” says van den Berg, explaining his choice. “Over the years, you simply get a feeling for whether an instrument works well or not.”

For example, a radar sensor from VEGA has been measuring in our raw material silo since 2006. At that time, only the 26-GHz VEGAPULS 68 was available. But because the Dk value of this raw material is very low, accurate measurement was always a challenge. So when VEGAPULS 69 with 80-GHz technology
was launched on the market, the engineering team didn’t hesitate and switched quickly to the instrument with the higher frequency. The previous measurement uncertainties were thus eliminated all at once.

And since 2011, many more instruments from VEGA have been in use: a VEGAPULS 61 non-contact radar level sensor in wastewater treatment, as well as point level switches VEGACAP, VEGASWING and VEGAVIB in various applications. Numerous pressure measuring instruments from VEGA are also in use, monitoring various production processes, for example, storage of fats and filter monitoring.

Prompt intervention

One measuring point, however, has been under constant observation for many years: the place where emulsification is monitored. The prevailing process conditions there are typical for food production. It is warm, the temperature of the process water is 85°C and strong vibration and pressure surges are commonplace. The pressures in the pipes are generally between -1 and +8 bar. As soon as the emulsion reaches a certain temperature, it is pumped on with a high-pressure pump. To feed the high-pressure pump, there must be constant pressure in this circulating system. A pressure measurement was therefore installed downstream from the pump to detect filter contamination at an early stage.

“In the past, pressure gauges from another manufacturer were used, but due to their short lifespan they always caused problems,” explains van den Berg. Other measuring principles, such as flow measurement, did not work properly either. On the one hand, the penetration of moisture caused problems, and on the other, the diaphragms of the sensors would often fail. “However, this measurement is absolutely necessary for the overall process, as it is the only way to monitor the contamination of the filter, which in turn is crucial for the proper functioning of the pump,” explains van den Berg further.

The new VEGABAR 38 was installed at this measuring point even before its official market launch in August 2019. It is a universally applicable pressure transmitter with ceramic measuring cell for measurement of gases, vapours and liquids up to 130°C. This very compact sensor enables simple and, at the same time, highly efficient automation. Above all, there are no compromises in terms of safety, hygiene or accuracy, ie exactly the requirements that are crucial in food production.

A plus in operational safety

The universal connection for hygienic adapters on the new sensor series reduces installation work. Process fittings can be selected as required and adapted to the on-site requirements. The sensor also has a display with on-site adjustment options and, as a special highlight, a full-colour 360° status display. This is not only for optical reasons: since the colour of the illuminated ring can be freely selected, but it can also be adapted to unfavourable lighting conditions. At a glance the user can see if the measuring process is running, if the sensor is switching, or if there is a possible malfunction in the process.

The IO-Link standard protocol ensures universal and simultaneously simple communication. The instruments thus have a standardised communication platform that enables seamless data transfer and simple integration into the system.

The new VEGABAR measuring instrument series can also be conveniently read out and configured with a smartphone or tablet. Especially in environments with many pipelines and interconnected production processes, where access is difficult and time-consuming, this option considerably simplifies sensor adjustment and operation. This is an aspect that van den Berg appreciates in his daily work routine.

Simple, reliable setup and commissioning

Since this first deployment was more or less a pilot run, the VEGA team stayed on hand during the installation. “In the future, however, we’ll handle everything ourselves. Thanks to Bluetooth being compatible with the app or PACTware software, the setup and monitoring of the VEGA instruments is very easy,” says van den Berg, who has appreciated the quality and reliability of VEGA instruments as well as VEGA service for many years. Also: “I like the colour. After all, it’s also nice to have equipment that looks great,” adds van den Berg, laughing and pointing out that the pressure sensors have been working perfectly since they were installed.

The fact that the measuring instrument withstands all adverse conditions during operation is largely thanks to the patented ceramic measuring cell in the VEGA pressure transmitter. The decisive element in VEGABAR 38 is the CERTEC measuring cell with its robust ceramic diaphragm. It is exceedingly tough and overload tolerant and therefore extremely resistant to high pressure and pressure shock. Since its installation, VEGABAR 38 has effectively minimised filter contamination by its immediate and reliable detection of any increase in pressure. The filter can then be cleaned to ensure sufficient flow and protect the pump.

And if there is a problem he can’t solve on his own, van den Berg knows he can always rely on VEGA for help. “Whenever I had a question, VEGA always helped me immediately – for example with the pressure transmitters and the silo measurements.” He recalls the problems he had with a very light powder with a low Dk, which was extremely difficult to detect. “We worked closely together with VEGA’s customer service personnel and in the end achieved a very good result. The fact that we were able to get this measuring point up and running quickly engendered mutual trust and strengthened our long-term collaboration,” said van den Berg in conclusion.


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