APM Q3 Newsletter - Success Stories

Welcome to the July Newsletter

Over the last five years APM helped companies around the world take control of the inventory inside their silos, domes and bins. During this time we have had many success stories showing how the scanners made dramatic changes for our customers. With the necessary information to control the inventory in the silos, companies can:

  • Reduce safety stocks
  • Improve logistics decision making
  • Increase process control
  • Reduce safety risks and costs
  • Increase silo utilization
  • Eliminate the risk of line downs
  • Cut down inventory costs

Here are some examples:

ADM, USA, Grains

Archer Daniels Midland Company, known as ADM trades, transports, stores and processes corn, oilseeds, wheat and cocoa into products for food, animal feed, industrial and energy uses. There are 725 ADM sites worldwide, employing 30,000 people in 140 countries on six continents. ADMs Lafayette, Indiana location produces starches, sugars, meals and hulls. The location operates two large grain storage silos for storing corn and soybean inventory for milling. Both silos are 132 in diameter and 128 tall, with total storage volume of 1.18 million bushels. Silo inventory was tracked using manual daily measurements, which resulted in less than satisfactory output. With material surface profile looking very much like the surface of the moon, a single point measure held very little value and after 3 month of partial filling and emptying activities, managers basically had no idea what was in the silo. Therefore, accounting, logistics and operations had no good way of measuring the grain on hand. Operations had no real-time consumption tracking, needed for controlling day to day actions. Manual measurements also presented a safety risk during bad weather conditions. To gain control of the silos inventory ADM installed an MVL-4 system on each silo. APMs unique MVL system allows customers to track and control inventory in containers of all sizes and shapes by using proprietary algorithms to combine the readings of multiple 3DLevel Scanners. The MVL system tracks real time inventory in the silos giving the accurate hourly volume measurement needed for accounting, logistics & operations. Using this information logistics are able to plan better, operations control ordering, production and waste much better and accounting has the real time information they require.

Termoplast, Italy, Polyethylene

Termoplast, which specializes in plastics materials thermoforming, is a leading manufacturer of packaging containers and disposable trays, serving the food packaging and catering sectors in Italy and in different foreign countries. Termoplast has several production plants, specializing in the production of film plastic, in and outside Italy. One of Termoplasts production sites had no automation for tracking material inventory inside the silos. This site manages 20 silos for the raw material polyethylene, each 3 meters wide and 18 meters high. Manual measurements, using a measuring stick, were used to avoid over filing. After an initial trial with APMs 3DLevelScanner model S, Termoplast were very pleased with their new abilities and ordered additional scanners. These scanners now allow them to check the material volume at any moment and under any process condition, including filling and emptying. They also have the ability to see the disposition of the product inside the silo, allowing them to proactively maintain the silo and the inventory. Inventory management is enabled through a special calibration curve, used to calculate the weight of the product inside the silo. With this data available to them, both day to day and managerial decisions are made based on real and accurate information. This leads to better quality of decisions, reduces the risk of mistakes and reduces the need for cumbersome and costly processes.

Botswana Ash,South Africa, Soda Ash

Botswana Ash (Pty) Ltdproduces Soda Ash and Salt from their mine, located at Sua Pan, in northern Botswana. The primary market for Soda Ash is South Africa, where most of the products are used in the glass industry. The nameplate production capacity of the soda ash plant is 300,000 tons per annum. Salt products, with production capacity of 650,000 tons per annum, are also sold within the continent. The Alrode, Johannesburg location has 3 Soda Ash silos, 15 meters wide and 25 meters high, that were being tracked by dip test measurements. The dip test method is a manual method where a weight is dipped into the vessel to the material surface in order to calculate the height. Since soda ash, like most solids, does not level out, the test must be repeated several times in different points to generate the average level. Result accuracy is highly dependent on the skill level of the person performing the tests. In addition, since the manual procedure is conducted from the top of the silo that is exposed to the elements it involves certain risks that must be managed. All these factors combined to make the Alrode location management consider the measurements very problematic and unreliable. Since the dipping was performed in 7 locations each time, often by unskilled labor, the results displayed a very large error margin, and due to safety issues they could not measure at all in cases of rain or lightning. Management was looking for an automated solution that will be dependently accurate and will work in any weather. Since Soda Ash is very dusty it is not possible to measure the level in these silos using Ultrasonic or Radar. The 3 silos were fitted with APM's 3DLevelScanner model MV. These scanners measure the entire surface of the material in the silos continuously and accurately and transmit the information wirelessly to the control room. This way the Alrode location has all the data they wanted available to them. They also found that the 3D images provide a useful representation of the stored product in order to track any occurrence of bridging. The system outputs include mass, volume and level (max, min and average). Mark Adams, Production Manager at Botswana Ash, Alrode reports that the new scanners " Save a lot of man hours, reduces human error and the system is not weather determined like the old 'dip testing' was."

Stybel, Israel , Grain and Flour

Stybel Group, founded in 1935, is Israel's largest wheat milling group. The group imports wheat and other grains for trade and for production of a wide range of milled products including organic flours and baking improves. Stybel group operates 5 flour mills and 2 storage facilities throughout Israel. In 2013 Stybel opened the largest flour mill in Israel, with capacity to supply flour to ~20% of the country's population. Buhler (http://www.buhlergroup.com), a world leader in flour mill construction and equipment, lead the construction project. Stybel has been using 23 APM scanners in their Haifa mills since 2010. Those scanners have proven valuable for Stybel, allowing full inventory management of the silos, as they live up to all promises and supply highly accurate readings with little to no maintenance. Therefore, Stybel decided to fit all the silos in the new mill with APM scanners, as a first step to automating all their silos. The new facility was designed with inventory tracking abilities on all silos to support production control. APM's 3DLevelScanner solution was considered along with all other solutions available in the market. Based on their past experience as well as the need for high accuracy and a real time view of material buildups on silo walls, Stybel selected the 3DLevelScanner as the project's inventory tracking solution for all 90 silos in the mill. The scanners were installed by the Buhler team as part of the silos' construction. The scanners' data was integrated into Buhler's SCADA system to become a seamless part of the Buhler solution for the mill. This allows Stybel to use the information from the 3DLevelScanners to manage inventory throughout the plant, from ordering raw materials, through tracking inventory in process to planning the shipping schedule. The scanners are used in all silos, including grain silos, flour silos and additive silos. In addition, Stybel has decided to add another 10 APM 3DLevelScanners for their large wheat silos in the Haifa location, to complete the system integration throughout and have a full picture of all their stocks.

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