Sensing innovation at BULK2020

John Leadbetter, Managing Director of VEGA Australia, tells ABHR what and why the company will be sponsoring and exhibiting at BULK2020.

Understanding how much product is being stored, shipped or sold is often vital to ensuring operations are safe and profitable, especially when handling bulk materials.

The technology used to handle this measurement has come a long way since the humble scale, becoming more advanced, accurate and automated.

VEGA has been in the business of measurement for more than 60 years, operating across 80 companies. Its primary function in industry is to provide level measurement technology for use across a variety of sectors using a range of different technologies.

John Leadbetter, VEGA Australia’s Managing Director, says the vast majority of its customers are looking to sell a product and accurate measurement systems gives better control over their inventory.

“The more reliable their level measurement, the more understanding they have of what they’re looking to sell,” he says.

To connect with potential customers and support the local bulk handling industry, VEGA Australia will be sponsoring and exhibiting at the Australian Bulk Handling Expo (BULK2020), from 1 to 3 April, 2020 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

At the event, VEGA will display the latest advances in its 80 gigahertz radar technology, which has become a focus for the company. Staff from Germany will also be present at the event to learn more about the local market.

Leadbetter says radar sensors have developed significantly since they were first introduced in the early 1990s.

“Radar technology has been around for decades, but like any advancement in technology, the latest generations are 1000 per cent better than the originals,” he says.

“Our first radar sensors to reliably measure solids were released in 2014 and the market has since accepted them as a reliable and accurate method of level control.

VEGA’s radar sensors collect level measurement information by producing radio waves and detecting the echoes, which are converted into an electronic signal that can be displayed on site or in a process control system.

Its 80 gigahertz range exceeds the previous 26 gigahertz series and is able to include a narrower angle and a better dynamic range to read signals faster and with greater accuracy.

Leadbetter says that there is a lot of value in physical demonstrations, as people are more likely to trust a product after seeing it in use.

“Demonstrations tend to be more believable – it’s rare that someone would buy a car from just a brochure, so why wouldn’t they also want to see other products get used before a major purchase?” he says.

BULK2020 aims to bring the diverse world of bulk handling together under the one roof to showcase some of the latest technologies and innovations available in the market. It is aimed at bulk commodity producers that are interested in the latest equipment to help them manage their businesses with efficiency.

Equipment such as conveyors, silos, motors and drives, belt scrapers, container tipplers, dust control systems, and weighing or level measuring products, among many more, will all be on display at the event.

VEGA aims to take advantage of the diverse mixture of attendees at the event. It plans to showcase its strengths in the bulk handling sector for a number of applications.

Leadbetter hopes people will come across the stand and discover products they didn’t know existed, or could solve their problems.

“We’d like to meet all types of people at the show, from systems engineers, consulting engineers and installation contractors, but most importantly, the end users and people who own the plants to show them what the technology can do,” he says.

“VEGA offers technology that will work for applications and that you can rely on. Our sensors have been designed for the bulk handling industry and can handle some tough environments, where other products might not be
able to.”

Leadbetter says that Australian businesses can be somewhat hesitant to take the plunge when it comes to new innovations but adds that change is vital to survive in an evolving sector.

“Certain practices of doing things are no longer acceptable, especially when it comes to safety,” Leadbetter says. “Health and safety legislation have made it even more important to embrace technology that keeps workers out of harms way.”

VEGA’s sensors are all Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things compatible, using Bluetooth to wirelessly transmit level measurement data. This means that there is less of a need to have workers operating at heights as operators can check sensors from a distance. Its suite of sensors and digital platform are also backwards compatible, meaning the majority of VEGA’s instruments manufactured since 2002 can take advantage of this.

The company takes customer support seriously, offering factory-trained service technicians and dedicated training facilities to ensure its customers take advantage of hundreds of years of combined experience.

Leadbetter says the team at VEGA are excited for the event and are looking forward to listening closely to the local market.

“The best way to find improvements comes from feedback,” he says.

“That’s one of the things we are looking for at BULK2020, to help us find advancements to keep supporting the Australian bulk handling industry.”