APM Automation Solutions' 3DLevelScanner's Measurement Accuracy Surpasses Traditional Technologies

Watch a Video of APM Automation Solutions' 3DLevelScanner™

Blackfin® powers high performance, low cost device
Absolute precision is non-optional when it comes to making measurements that track and inventory the contents of industrial silos, open bins and warehouses. Even the smallest inaccuracy in quantifying the true level and volume of materials stored in a silo or bin can significantly impact a company's bottom line. Traditional measurement techniques such as radar or ultrasonic, although frequently used, can be imprecise due to implementation sensitivities.

With the introduction of the 3DLevelScanner™, APM Automation Solutions Ltd. (APM) of Tel Aviv, Israel has engineered a transformative advancement in measurement accuracy and device usability for companies who need to make these kinds of measurements. By using 3D level measurement and mapping methodology, APM's innovative device is not only able to graphically represent a more precise level measurement, but also adds volume measurement to the results. The new instrument has also overcome traditional implementation restrictions by providing virtual plug-and- play usability. To bring this new level of precision and performance to the market, APM chose the Analog Devices Blackfin BF534 as the device's core processor early in the development process, for its exceptional processing performance, best-in-class signal processing capabilities, low power consumption and low cost.

Since its inception, APM has applied its economical and innovative technology to a range of non-contact 3D level measurement applications, often addressing, with unparalleled degrees of accuracy, measurement challenges previously thought to be beyond the scope of level measurement. The compact, Blackfin-based device is lowered into the container employing a 2-dimensional array beam-former to transmit low frequency pulses and to receive echoes of the pulses from the contents of the silo, bin or other container. The Blackfin processor, with uncompromised performance and minimal power demand, samples and analyzes the received signals. From the estimated times of arrival and directions of received echoes, the device obtains and generates a 3-dimensional image which is displayed on a remote screen. The 3DLevelScanner, well suited to rugged industrial environments, is able to measure a full range of solid materials including wheat, plastic granules, chemical powders, cement, aggregates, grains, flour, coal and much more. Its straightforward design allows for precision measurement that's unaffected by common industrial conditions such as dust and filling noises, with a range of up to 70 meters.

High Performance Processing with Minimal Power Demand
Targeted for demanding real time instrumentation applications, the 500MHz BF534 is an economical workhorse. For true real time analysis, APM was able to take advantage of the programmable Blackfin's high speed sampling rate and ample memory. The processor's enhanced DMA controller facilitated computation of APM's highly complex algorithms and multichannel Analog to Digital (ATD) sampling and Digital to Analog (DTA) transmission. With Blackfin, the device's average power consumption of ~1W qualified the unit for compliance with important industrial low power consumption standards. Additional industrial standards such as Modbus, HART and RS485 were easily implemented using Blackfin's interfaces. To complement the core Blackfin processor, APM completed the solution's signal chain with additional analog signal processing components from ADI including, among others, 12-bit A/D converters, low-power D/A converters, precision amplifiers, supervisory circuits and audio switches.

APM's 3DLevelScanner represents a new family of sophisticated devices that takes the guesswork out of industrial inventory management and brings a new level of accuracy to industrial measurement technology. By choosing Blackfin, APM was able to engineer a low cost, powerful technology that will transform the measurement device industry.

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