As the technology develops and becomes more complex, VEGA Australia is striving to remain as simple as possible.
For a long period of time, measuring what was in a bulk silo was complex, inaccurate, and often unsafe. Level switches could tell operators when the material had reached a certain point, but when material starts to be removed, it was difficult to get an exact idea of how much was left.
Some methods involved manually inspecting the silo, which often meant physically climbing the tall structure – putting someone in a risky position. Material can also flow and fill the silo unevenly, making it even harder to get a grasp of how much material is being stored.
John Leadbetter, Managing Director at VEGA Australia, says simplicity is the driving force behind the company’s measurement technology.
“Realistically, around 95 per cent of our customers are just looking for six simple parameters,” he says.
“What is the distance from the transmitter to zero, what is the distance to 100 and the difference between these two create the operating range. This is then displayed as a percentage. The product type, for example granular, is selected and a failsafe to let the client know if there is a problem with the system.”
New technology can wildly transform how bulk operations operate, making things safer and more productive. However, as technology advances it runs the risk of becoming overwhelming and confusing.
VEGA Australia has worked to avoid this, making sure its products are as familiar as possible. Its products use Bluetooth connectivity to connect with smartphones and tablets that most people own or have used before.
The company has also worked to improve the Bluetooth communications technology, with programming to bring the sensors towards broader Industrial Internet of Things compatibility. In particular, the business is focusing on allowing for uploads to the cloud.
Leadbetter says the technology is always being updated and refined, to the point where what was used 10 years ago is well out of date.
“We’re always working on new tech formats to keep ourselves ahead of the market,” he says. “That means listening to our customers and finding out what their needs and plans are. No system is the same, and each industry has different requirements.”
“Automation is something we’re hoping to integrate into our offering. Historically, the bulk handling industry has relied on a lot of manpower to measure tanks and silos, which has driven a need for a more refined system of inventory management.
“Remote industry management is set to become a bigger part of the industry, with stronger integrations into logistics system. We’re seeing companies with systems that look at a network of silos to find out how much material a customer has and then automatically send a truck to refill it if needed.”
VEGA is developing its own software-based system that can communicate with a client’s operation to provide real time updates on the facility and their customer’s facilities.
Currently, most of VEGA’s customers are looking for a simpler solution. To determine the right tool for the job, VEGA determines what material will be measured, whether it is explosive, how often the vessel will be filled or emptied, if there’s a power supply and what restrictions there are. VEGA also talks about the installation and which contractors will be handling to process.
Leadbetter says the most important thing to determine is what the customer is looking to achieve – whether its basic measurement with a level switch or they are looking for contiguous information.
“VEGA is a customer focused company, our staff treat each application as an individual case – there’s no one size fits all,” he says.
“All of our equipment is German manufactured – we don’t buy other products or substitute them. Everything we do is 100 per cent VEGA and we’re very proud of that.”
One of the most important parts of VEGA’s offering is its after sales support. The company ensure the sensors are properly calibrated to ensure all readings are reliable and accurate. It also offers training courses to help make the site more self-sufficient.
If needed, there is a 24/7 technical support line that can help if any problems arise. VEGA’s Sydney office also doubles as a repair facility, meaning it can repair or replace stock that requires it.
Leadbetter says providing this support is the most important thing the company can do.
“Anyone can sell a piece of equipment, it’s whether or not you can support that equipment into the future,” he says.
“Customers invested their trust into us to provide reliable, accurate performance and we need to stand by that promise.”
VEGA will be exhibiting several of its products, including its Bluetooth technologies and working examples at the Australian Bulk Handling Expo (BULK2022), from 8 – 10 September 2022 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, where it is a platinum sponsor.
Leadbetter says the company is proud to support BULK2022, as the event supports the broader Australian industry.
“BULK2022 is going to be a huge show and we’re all excited to boost our company’s profile through it. There’s a real opportunity here to develop a deeper understanding of the market while helping to grow the bulk handling sector through our latest innovations which are geared towards this industry.”