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Laser scanner calculates the volume of materials on belts

18 October, 2018

The German sensor-maker Sick has adapted a laser-scanning technology originally developed to measure the volume and mass of bulk materials travelling on belts in locations such as quarries, to smaller-scale applications such as monitoring foodstuffs and other materials in factories.

The LMS111 Bulkscan scanner system provides continuous, real-time, non-contact measurement of the volume and mass of materials on conveyor belts. Sick suggest that it is a low-maintenance, wear-free alternative to belt-weighers. The multi-echo, time-of-flight scanning technology is said to provide reliable data on volumes and mass flows. It can also monitor the material’s centre of gravity to help avoid uneven loading and belt wear.

The technology can be built into new lines or retrofitted to existing conveyors. It can be mounted up to 10m above the conveyor and provides a 190-degree-wide field-of-view. The technology is said to remain accurate without the regular recalibration needed for conventional scales.

The system offers “a value-added alternative to standard belt scales and is a robust and consistent performer, even in dusty production environments or when mounted behind glass,” explains Sick’s UK product manager for industrial instrumentation, Darren Pratt.

“Volume is more important than mass for many production processes,” he points out, making the scanning system an ideal alternative to belt-weighers in conditions where material densities may change. 

Sick's laser scanner calculates the volume and mass of materials passing below on a conveyor belt

“Asymmetrical belt filling or unequal bulk distribution can cause off-track running,” Pratt adds. “The load height and centre of gravity also have important wear, energy efficiency and safety implications in bulk conveying.”

By measuring the load height profile every 20ms, the scanner delivers accurate, continuous measurements of material profiles on conveyor belts. It then works out the volume of the material using the belt speed, which can be a fixed value or input via an encoder. It computes the mass from the volume and density of the material.

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