Instrumentation & Sensors for Quality Analysis

Quality Analysis of water treatments Plants by REKPRO in KSA

Sensors: The Foundation of Process Flow Control in Various Industries

Sensors are essential for process flow control, quality, and quantity measurement in the food and beverage industry, oil processing factories, and water treatment control systems. They convert physical parameters from equipment and processes into digital information that both machines and people can use. Simply put, water treatment plant control without sensors is a non-starter. To understand what can be monitored, controlled, or automated in a water treatment plant, many are asking the question: What types of sensors are used?

This article explores the types of sensors operators use today in the average process plant, focusing on the following components:

  • Sensors Used for Measuring Water Quality
  • Sensors Used to Monitor Dynamic Fluid Processes
  • Sensors Used to Track Pump Performance
  • Sensors Used to Monitor Ancillary Systems in Plant Controls


Types of Sensors Used for Water Quality in Wastewater Treatment

Water quality is the primary focus of water treatment plants, but it’s not just the final product that water treatment operators care about. Water quality must be measured and controlled throughout the entire treatment process. That’s where water quality sensors come in.

water quality
Water quality is a critical parameter in many wastewater treatment processes
Types of Sensors:
  1. Total Suspended Solids (TSS) Sensors
    • Measure the amount of silt, sediment, and substances suspended in water.
  2. Dissolved Oxygen (DO) Sensors
    • Measure oxygen levels dissolved in water.
  3. Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) Sensors
    • Measure oxygen levels in water for use in chemical treatment reactions.
  4. Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) Sensors
    • Measure oxygen levels in water for use by bacteria in treatment processes.
  5. Ultraviolet (UV) Detection Sensors
    • Measure the absorption of light as a corollary for the presence of organic matter.
  6. Substance Detection Sensors
    • Measure the presence of molecules such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and chlorine.

Process Controls Instrumentation in Wastewater Treatment

Process controls instrumentation is a critical element of any wastewater treatment plant control system. As the name implies, process controls instrumentation in wastewater treatment monitors parameters of the particular treatment processes. “Process” in this context means the fluid dynamics process whereby water gets transported through vessels, pumps, and pipes for different treatment phases. Process instrumentation is crucial for calculating system efficiency and for assuring that necessary treatment processes can occur. Put simply, process instrumentation lets people know if water isn’t getting where it needs to go on time and at a reasonable cost.

The core sensors used in process controls instrumentation for wastewater treatment are:

  1. Level Sensors
    • Measure levels of water, other liquids, and solids in various holding tanks.
  2. Pressure Sensors
    • Measure pressures in piping and pressure vessels.
  3. Temperature Sensors
    • Measure water temperature, equipment temperatures, and other temperatures.
  4. Flow Meters
    • Measure the flow rates of water and additives through piping.

Each of these can describe a critical variable that helps water treatment plant control operators monitor and maintain dynamic fluid properties, keeping wastewater treatment schedules on track.

Types of Sensors Used to Monitor Water Pump Diagnostics

Without pumps, liquids don’t move. If pumps go offline, wastewater treatment plants lose the capacity to treat water, which means raw sewage discharges into surface water, at best, and people get sick, at worst. Pumps also consume a lot of energy—around 20% of the energy consumption of an average wastewater treatment plant. Therefore, pump efficiency is critical to reducing energy costs and prolonging equipment life. When pumps aren’t in tip-top shape, wastewater plants are either overspending on energy or fast approaching a massive repair project.

water pumps
Pumps are big power consumers, so they need constant monitoring.

Types of Sensors Used to Monitor Pump Diagnostics and Enable Pump Control in Wastewater Treatment Plants

  1. Motor Voltage Sensors

    • Measure the voltage powering DC pump motors, used to assess power usage and efficiency.
  2. Motor Current Sensors

    • Measure the current consumed by AC or DC pump motors, used to evaluate power usage and efficiency.
  3. Motor Temperature Sensors

    • Measure the motor temperature to detect abnormal rises in temperature.
  4. Vibration Sensors

    • Measure the intensity and frequency of vibrations caused by pump motors, indicating wear or potential failure.
  5. Leakage Sensors

    • Detect the presence of unwanted water ingress into pump motor housings.

Other Types of Wastewater Treatment Plant Control Sensors

In addition to sensors used for water quality, process controls instrumentation, and pump diagnostics, sensors monitor various other processes in wastewater treatment. This includes electrical and power systems, backup generator systems, safety systems, and more. Here are some example sensors used in other wastewater treatment plant control processes.

Electrical Substations and Systems

Wastewater treatment plants consume a lot of power, not just from pumps. Electricity is critical to keeping water treatment plants online. Here are some of the sensors used to monitor electrical systems in water treatment plants:

  1. Current Transducers

    • Measure current consumed at the electrical panel.
  2. Load Balancing Diagnostic Sensors

    • Measure diagnostics of load balancing equipment.
  3. Capacitor Sensors

    • Measure diagnostics of capacitor banks.
  4. Power Conditioning Sensors

    • Measure diagnostics of power conditioning equipment.
  5. Connected Circuit Breakers

    • Detect when circuit breakers are tripped.
Backup Power Generators

In the event of an electrical failure, diesel-powered backup generators may come online to ensure continuous operations. Sensors are used to ensure that generators are ready and able to come online when needed, and that they are running effectively when relied upon.

Backup diesel generators should be constantly monitored to ensure they come online when needed.

power backup Generators
Backup diesel generators should be constantly monitored to ensure they come online when needed.

These are the types of sensors used to monitor backup generators at wastewater treatment plants:

  1. Fuel Level Sensors

    • Measure the level of diesel in generator fuel tanks.
  2. Annunciator Panel Sensors

    • Connect to generator panels to monitor warnings, faults, and shutdown codes.
  3. Pressure Sensors

    • Measure the oil pressure in the generator engine sump and the coolant pressure.
  4. Temperature Sensors

    • Measure oil temperature and coolant temperature.
  5. Battery Voltage Sensors

    • Measure the voltage of the battery that powers the panel when the generator is offline.
  6. Automatic Transfer Switch Sensors

    • Measure the status of the automatic transfer switch that transfers power from the grid to the generator.

Safety System Sensors

Safety is critical to water treatment plants. In general, sensors and remote monitoring systems help water treatment plants operate more safely by eliminating the need to put people in risky places just to record process parameters. Additionally, these types of sensors can be used to ensure safety in wastewater treatment plants:

  1. Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) Sensors

    • Measure the presence of H2S gas, a toxic byproduct of decomposition in sewage.
  2. Emergency Gas Scrubber Sensors

    • Measure the effectiveness and readiness of emergency toxic gas scrubbers.

Connect Your Sensors to Remote Monitoring

Sensors in wastewater treatment plants are only valuable when they are connected to a system that monitors, controls, and automates wastewater treatment plants to ensure safety, maximize treatment rates, and reduce costs.

Many operators find value in connecting their wastewater treatment plant control sensors to a remote monitoring system. This can lead to less downtime, lower incident rates, and faster time to insights that increase overall treatment efficiency.

Food & Beverage Processing Instrumentation

The food and beverage industry adheres to strict guidelines and regulations to preserve food quality and prevent contamination, ensuring consumer health and safety. Because food safety compliance is so critical, even the smallest issues can impact food safety and result in unexpected downtime. Instrumentation for food processing equipment prevents these issues by monitoring processes and providing quality management throughout the production process, from product preparation to labeling and packaging.

Types of Instrumentation for Food and Beverage Handling Applications

  • Monitoring the cooking process of meat, pastry, and other prepared foods
  • Ensuring consistency for automated meat, cheese, or bread cutting equipment
  • Using digital imaging to identify and classify ingredients
  • Measuring moisture content in baked goods and other prepared foods
  • Analyzing the liquid density of alcohol, dairy, and other beverages
  • Monitoring temperature for the pasteurization of milk and other dairy products
  • Processing solid and fluid waste to comply with environmental sustainability standards

Top Manufacturers for Food Industry Processing Equipment Instrumentation

  • Robert Bosch GmbH
  • Denso Corporation
  • Infineon Technologies AG
  • Texas Instruments Incorporated
  • Continental AG
  • BorgWarner Inc.
  • Analog Devices, Inc.
  • TE Connectivity Ltd.
  • Omega Engineering Inc.
  • Honeywell International Inc.
  • Rockwell Automation Inc.
  • WIKA
  • Baumer

RekPro’s Role

RekPro is a leading provider of industrial automated solutions for the food and beverage industry. Our team has experience providing automated solutions across various industries and can help you find the best instrumentation for your food and beverage processing needs.

Instrumentation for Repeatability and Quality Control

Product repeatability ensures the consistent taste and quality of beer, soft drinks, and other beverages. Food and beverage instrumentation is useful for monitoring and measuring the concentration and addition of flavorings and other additives. For breweries, sensors and other instrumentation monitor consistency during the brewing process, including measuring pH levels, mash temperatures, and fermentation and filtration processes. Beverage processing equipment instrumentation also includes automated solutions for bottling, labeling, packaging, and shipping beverages.

Types of Instrumentation

  1. Flow Meters

    • Measure the flow rate of liquids, useful for dispensing applications. These instruments can be tailored to measure gallons per minute or liters per second to ensure repeatability and product consistency.
  2. Level Measurement Instrumentation

    • Continuous and point level instrumentation includes floats, probes, and switches for measuring and monitoring fluid levels in holding tanks and other vessels.
  3. Temperature Measurement

    • Maintaining proper temperatures is critical in the production and storage of food and beverages. We provide a range of temperature instrumentation, including sensors and heaters for monitoring cooking processes and ensuring ingredients and finished products are produced and stored at appropriate temperatures.
  4. Pressure Instrumentation

    • Various types of gauges, transmitters, and sensors measure and display density, flow rates, fluid levels, and more. These instruments help improve safety and quality control by monitoring critical functions and signaling when pressures reach low or high levels.

Using Food & Beverage Instrumentation to Optimize Production

Product inconsistencies, safety and quality issues, and equipment downtime can cost valuable time and money by slowing down the production process. Instrumentation provides a solution by working with food industry processing equipment to provide a fully automated solution. Industrial instrumentation can integrate seamlessly into existing control platforms, providing monitoring and data collection for effective process management. An optimized food and beverage production process reduces labor costs, improves workplace safety, and cuts costs associated with raw material waste.

Automation Solutions for Food Industry Processing Equipment

  1. Machine Safety Instrumentation

    • Includes industrial automation solutions such as emergency stop shutdown relays, speed monitoring instrumentation, and access monitoring systems.
  2. Machine Vision Instrumentation

    • Provides a range of sensors and other imaging-based instrumentation for robotics applications, including locating, inspecting, and sorting.
  3. Photoelectric & Inductive Sensors

    • Detect and orient products in a production line without physical contact, ideal for food and beverage production as it safely monitors processes without risking contamination.
  4. Encoders and Signal Conditioners

    • Provides critical communication between beverage processing equipment and other components of a food production line.

Beverage Processing Equipment Startup, Calibration & Service

We offer programming and startup services for new devices and onsite calibration and service for equipment in the field. Our goal is to ensure you get the best results from your control and monitoring equipment.