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Resin powder level sensor in railcar

Resin powder level sensor in railcar

Resin powder level sensor in railcar


I work for a plastics manufacturing plant that uses resin as an ingredient in making product. Sometimes, the resin will be obtained from a railcar (sent from a raw materials supplier) through a vacuum system that hooks up to the bottom of the car to move the resin to one of the plant lines.

One of the problems with this system is that there is no way to tell if a railcar compartment is going empty while out in the rail yard. Workers will literally bang on the sides of the railcar compartment to see if it sounds hollow or empty. Sometimes the vacuum system will suck air because the compartment has already run empty and no one knows about it (or people catch it after it's too late) and this can slow the process down and even cause us to lose a line.

Would it be possible to implement some kind of low-level sensor in the railcar that would trigger an alarm to alert workers that the compartment needs to be switched soon? Since the railcars are not my company's the sensor would have to be movable. What about something that could be placed at the top hatch opening and point down, sensing when resin reaches a certain distance away from the top of the railcar?

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

RE: Resin powder level sensor in railcar

Can you not place something in the line that detects passage of (I assume pellets?), i.e. a type of optical sensor (or just a section of clear pipe).

RE: Resin powder level sensor in railcar

If there is a top hatch that can remain open during unloading just use a long stick with a flat disc or sphere on one end resting on the surface of the resin powder. The stick can be seen from far away, and will fall with the powder level. If necessary a replacement hatch with a hole in it can be clamped in place of the existing hatch. A magnetic switch could also be incorporated on the stick.

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