APM′s breakthrough technology accurately shows animal feed inventory levels in open bins

Kfar Hamaccabi is one of Israel's largest animal feed manufacturers.

Animal feed manufacturers typically hold large quantities of raw materials which have a very high turnover, making measurement and control of inventory levels a major concern.

The problem

At Kfar Hamaccabi raw materials are stored in open bins which are emptied according to the needs, usually by a tractor shovel. As the material is taken out irregularly-shaped mounds of raw material remain in the bins, making inventory assessment nearly impossible. An "eyeball estimate" that provides an educated guess about the quantity of materials remaining in a bin represents the extent of “technology” that is applied to calculating how much material has remained in the plant.

Such best-guess estimates lead to gross inaccuracies: the bigger the warehouse, the greater the impact not only in terms of production management errors but also on bottom-line profitability. Often hundreds of tons of material are either wasted or unavailable when needed, with all the associated costs of under- or over-estimated inventories. A great need therefore exists for a new technology that can overcome this problem.

 The APM solution

Kfar Hamaccabi installed two APM 3DLevelScanners MV type to accurately measure the volume of material in its open bins (and receive a visualization of how the piles look like in the bin). The 3DLevelScanner provides a true and reliable measurement of the material, regardless of shape of the surface area, thereby minimizing inventory loss and significantly reducing costs.

Shortcomings of alternative measurement solutions

None of the alternative measurement solutions could overcome the challenges in this particularly situation. Since the surface was uneven, a level measurement would not be valid, so the customer relied on eyeball estimates alone. None of the technologies the customer evaluated were capable of accurately measuring the raw materials in order to achieve consistently effective inventory control.

The Benefits

APM's 3DLevelScanner has made possible what has previously been impossible for customers like Kfar Hamaccabi: accurate measurement of the volume of materials stored in open bins, warehouses and silos, allowing much-improved management and control working with true inventory levels. The customer is able to cut waste and loss due to lack of information, is able to work with just-in-time scheduling, thereby creating a stronger organization (plant). This is especially critical at times where the economy is unpredictable and resource planning is so dynamic and important.

The APM 3DLevelScanner – how it works

The APM 3DLevelScanner employs 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 device's Digital Signal Processor samples and analyzes the received signals. From the estimated times of arrival and directions of received echoes, the processor generates a 3-dimensional image of the surface that can be displayed on a remote screen. The unit then accurately determines the volume and mass of material being stored.

April 5, 2009

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