Insights from industry

Providing Safe and Reliable Custom Engineering Solutions for Liquid Level Applications

KM26 Magnetic Level Gauges are proving to be the safest and most reliable choice, providing custom engineering solutions to liquid level applications in the most demanding applications, the KM26 Magnetic Level Gauges are proving to be the safe and reliable choice.

In this interview, Sreekanth MS, Global Product Manager for Level products, at ABB Measurement and Analytics talks to AZoM about how the magnetic level gauge solution which has the capability of externally mounting transmitters and switches to help improve plant safety.

What difficulties does a plant face when it comes down to safety?

There are three dimensions when it comes to safety in an industry – plant, process and people! The plant is made of multiple and complex manufacturing processes that handle toxic and corrosive chemicals and gases which creates a potentially hazardous area. For operations such as industrial applications, there are all equipment and machinery that need to be operated continuously without any downtime to ensure productivity.

Safe operation and continuous life of these assets is ensured through regular maintenance schedules. Finally, this ensures that the processes and the plant are running 24/7 to deliver a reliable end product at the required quality and quantity.

In such a coexisting ecosystem, there are always risks in the form of a loose wire, spark, extreme temperature, leaks etc. due to poorly maintained equipment that can pose a threat to human life and nature.

So, all these different aspects of a plant must work in tandem with safety as the top priority and look for any gaps in the processes and implement continuous improvement plans.

The plant instrumentation plays a vital link in this process chain. Smarter measurement supports safer, more efficient and more sustainable operations, improving uptime and extending service life, whatever the industry sector. Behind the scenes, it is also helping to keep worldwide infrastructure operating reliably, day-in and day-out.

How is the KM26 Magnetic Level gauge an industry leader for safe and reliable level measurement? What sets it apart?

KM26 is a powerful level solution that does not need electric power to operate. In a dynamic system, the level measurement becomes challenging with the process vessels/tanks which continuously undergoes changes in the behaviors of the measured process fluid due to agitation, mixing, chemical reaction, or emptied out for downstream processes depending on the application needs.

In such applications, these processes combined with the fact that these occur at high temperature and/or high pressure pose a safety risk for the equipment and personnel, which makes the level measurement even more critical.

Any improper and inadequate control can cause levels in the vessels or tanks to be excessively higher or lower than their safe operating limits resulting in the damage to equipment, affecting the quality of the final product or causing overflow and potentially creating safety and environmental hazards resulting in financial losses.

KM26 Magnetic Level Gauge (MLG) which was initially developed as a replacement solution for the costly and dangerous direct contact sight glasses based level indicators. However, over time, this technology has become much more than a simple replacement measuring device; it has become the method of choice for measurement in a wide range of processes.

With the advancements in the technology over the period of time the Magnetic level Gauges can safely be used with flammable, corrosive or toxic liquids; or where operating conditions exceed safety limits of glass.

The rugged construction of these level gauges are ideally suited for use in operating environments where extreme temperature (-195oc/-320oF or 538oc/1000oF) and/or pressure (344bar/5000psi) may be encountered.

With the customized engineered solutions and advancements in design and manufacturing technologies, the MLG level solution can meet this requirement by having each MLG float chamber designed to meet the ANSI/ASME B31.1, B31.3 or ASME section Viii, whichever is most applicable.

In addition, certifications like PED, ASME and ATEX constructional safety increases the confidence and reliability of solutions for such extreme applications.

The hermetically sealed float designed for specific conditions of the applications and the scale assembly tested to meet the highest standards of the ingress protections like IP68 increases the accuracy, reliability and performance in all types of weather!

Tell us about the features of the KM26 Magnetic Level gauge?

The basic KM26 Magnetic Level Gauge system consists of a Float, Float chamber, and an indicator assembly. The float chamber is connected directly to the process vessel. The float contains a magnet assembly and is designed and weighted to float in the process liquid submerged approximately 70 to 80%.

The indicator assembly consists of a hermetically sealed glass or polycarbonate tube containing the shuttle or magnetic bar graph indicator and a graduated scale corresponding to the desired operating range. The indicator assembly is mounted in close proximity to the float chamber. Magnetic coupling exists between the float and the indicator.

ABB’s K-TEK KM26 magnetic level gauge features and benefits:

  • KM26 magnetic level gauge meets the same design requirements as the customer’s vessel and piping system as the KM26 is designed to ASME code - Innovative solutions- extruded process connections on the chambers eliminates sink in distortion and chamber bending during welding.  Eliminates two welds for KM26 with flanged process connections and improves quality and reliability.
  • An accurate level indication as each float is designed for the conditions specified and the magnet assembly is placed at the immersion point on the float for the fluid specified. This is a great benefit for our customers compared to the general industry practice where they select floats from stock and more often than not they do not indicate the liquid level accurately.
  • HIGH PRESSURE AND LOW S.G. HERMETICALLY SEALED FLOATS K-TEK manufactures hermetically sealed floats for higher pressures and lower process fluid densities than any other manufacturer. Hermetically sealed floats result in more reliable operation. Many manufacturers use vented floats for high pressure and/or low-density applications. As liquids collect in the float they may sink. Hermetically sealed floats are available for pressures to 4500 psig or S.G.’s as low as 0.25.
  • 360º MAGNETIC FIELD - KM26 floats have magnets around the entire circumference. The indicator, switches and transmitters can be located anywhere on the float chamber. This also results in higher reliability than competitive units that have a single magnet. Indication, switches and transmitter do not fail when float spins in the chamber due to turbulence.
  • HERMETICALLY SEALED INDICATOR – IP68 certified indicator tubes, are hermetically sealed resulting in clear and reliable indication in all types of weather.
  • FLOAT STOP SPRINGS STANDARD - All KM26S’s have float stop springs in the bottom and top of the float chamber to protect the float from sudden contact with the end of the float chamber such as might be encountered when the KM26 is vented or drained under pressure. The float stop springs also provide a means to stop the float at the minimum and maximum measured level. This provides for positive zero indication which helps distinguish between zero level and a problem.
  • FACTORY INSTALLED INSULATION - manufactures and installs removable high-temperature insulation and cryogenic insulation in house.  High-temperature insulation is used both for personal protection and to extend the use of switches and transmitters to 800ºF.
  • Reverse Osmosis (RO) Water treatment system to lower the chloride content in the water used for the Hydro test of the chamber ensures the life of the mechanical parts and controls any contamination when installing the KM26 in any application

What benefits will an application see with the oversized chamber?

In applications where the chamber contains highly volatile fluids where “flashing” or the process their own "steam," an oversize chamber with guide rods magnetic level gauge is used for a stable and reliable level measurement.

In an application where the fluid is operating near its vapor pressure, the level indication may be erratic because vapor from the boiling fluid cannot pass the float quickly enough if a normal chamber designed is employed.

The KM26 MLG offers the innovative oversize chamber with guide rod design incorporating an oversized float chamber that allows the vapors to pass around the narrower float. Built-in guide-rods within the chamber itself help to keep the float pressed close to the indicator tube, thus ensuring no loss in accuracy.

Oversized float chambers are also increasingly indicated for use in measuring fluids with suspended particles. When the particles are metallic, even specific measures can be taken by installing magnetic traps.

ImageCredit:Shutterstock/CATSCAPE

The KM26 Magnetic Level Gauge is energy efficient, intuitive and can reduce a lot. What does this mean for plant safety?

ABB's smart level Measurement solutions can be safely used to measure a wide variety of liquids, including corrosive, flammable and toxic materials with a non-invasive visual indicator. The Magnetic Level Gauge (MLG) technology provides the user with a continuous level indication using the integrated float & scale assembly that provides the user the confidence in the measurement as it offers the visual indication to believe the measurement.

Since the MLG does not need any external power there is no risk of measurement even in abnormal power failure conditions. The Magnetostrictive technology complements the MLG technology and provides an excellent solution for digital measurement and level control.

The wide & superior range of level measurement solutions provides the flexibility of integrating next-generation advanced continuous level transmitters & point level switches in a Magnetic Level Gauge as one powerful integrated platform ensuring increased safety, reliability and performance while reducing the total cost of ownership compared to the cost of older technology or multiple separate solutions.

The associated accessories and maintenance schedules, save the customer a lot of money, saves space, reduces weight, minimizes leak potential, and since this is completely factory assembled and tested, no onsite fabrication & calibration required.

How can non-invasive solutions improve plant safety?

In many industrial applications, the process is often required to have extremely aggressive media and often requires the bulk storage of highly corrosive or acidic chemicals that react with standard materials of the level measuring equipment.

Therefore, it is not advisable to use such level devices, made of the standard materials to measure tank levels, as those would degrade quickly and, consequently, provide inaccurate information and potentially end up in a disaster.

During any plant maintenance, if the equipment, instruments etc. are needed to be removed from the process vessels for inspection to do the routine maintenance, these instruments that were in contact with the process liquids which are corrosive, hazardous and toxic in nature can come in contact with the maintenance personnel which can cause health hazards.

In the KM26 magnetic level gauge solution, the visual indicator, the transmitter and switches mounted are non-invasive, which means that they are not in direct contact with these process liquids and hence an increased safety not only to the humans but also to the environment.

Secondly, since these are non-invasive designs, the need for such insertion openings in the process vessel is reduced thereby reducing the number potential leak points during the operation of such industrial process increasing the plant availability and safety.

ImageCredit:Shutterstock/nrqemi

What liquid level industries will benefit from the KM26 Magnetic Gauge?

With over 350,000 installations worldwide, our KM26 magnetic level gauge (MLG) has provided custom engineered solutions to liquid level applications in industries such as oil and gas, refinery, chemical, petrochemical, power generation and many more.

The KM26 MLG has proven itself to be a safe, reliable, maintenance-free solution for total and/or interface level detection in toxic, corrosive, high pressure and high-temperature processes.

What does this piece of equipment mean for the future of plant safety?

With the customized engineered solutions and the advancements in design and manufacturing technologies, the MLG level solution can meet this requirement by having each MLG float chamber designed to meet the ANSI/ASME B31.1, B31.3 or ASME section VIII whichever is most applicable.

In addition, certifications like PED, ATEX constructional safety increases the confidence and reliability of solutions for such extreme applications.

The hermetically sealed float designed and manufactured for each application based on the specific conditions of the application and the scale assembly tested to meet highest standards of the ingress protections like IP68 increases the accuracy, reliability and performance in all types of weather!

Where can our readers go to find out more?

https://www.youtube.com/embed/sw5iapMmcc0?html5=1&rel=0&wmode=transparent&autoplay=1

https://new.abb.com/products/measurement-products/level/magnetic-level-gauges/km26-magnetic-level-gauge

About Sreekanth Madhavasherry Sreenivasan

Sreekanth Madhavasherry Sreenivasan (Sree) the Global Product Manager for the Level Gauges, magnetostrictive transmitters & point level switch Products with ABB Inc, based out of the United States of America.

Sree has overall 18 years of experience in Industrial Process Automation in various roles including Research & Development, Engineering, Commissioning, Field Services and Project Management.

Sree has been with ABB for the last 12 years in Control Systems and Measurement Products businesses within the Industrial Automation Division

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Mychealla Rice

Written by

Mychealla Rice

Mychealla graduated from Northumbria University in Newcastle with a 2:1 in Journalism with English Literature. Mychealla is a keen traveller, spending time in Australia, Thailand and Italy. Mychealla plans to see more of Europe in the future. Mychealla’s interests include photography and music. In her spare time, she likes to go shopping and visit family and friends back in Ireland.

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