What are the level probes of connected silos used for?
Connectivity is everywhere in our daily lives. Beyond the connected objects of everyday life, many technologies can facilitate the management of professional activities.
The IoT (Internet of Things) is also developing in the agricultural sector in order to automate certain redundant tasks to optimize working time. The operation of a connected silo is a telling example. A connected silo allows any farmer to know with precision the filling rate of the silo thanks to the installation of a sensor or a level probe. How does a level probe work? We explain you right away the principle of operation of this connected equipment.
Why install a level probe in a silo?
A level probe is generally used to find out the filling level of a silo or any other tank containing liquid or grain. This equipment can also be referred to as a level sensor. There are several types of level probes that use several methods of probing the level remaining in the silo.
A level probe also represents a connected object that will send its collected data to the servers of the company marketing it. This data will then be analyzed in order to be transmitted to the farmer via a web interface.
A probe or a level sensor allows knowing in real-time the filling level of a silo without having to examine the inside of the silo. This allows the optimization of delivery days to reduce work time in the supply chain.
How does a level probe work?
For a grain silo, the level probe generally used works by ultrasound. This model of level sensor will measure the remaining distance between the receptive membrane of the sensor and the surface of the food level.
For this purpose, the ultrasonic level probe will emit ultrasonic waves. These ultrasonic waves will pass through the grain in the silo. These waves will then be sent back to the probe when they reach the surface of the grain.
Knowing that these waves propagate at the speed of sound, it will then be possible for the level sensor to calculate the time elapsed between the emission of the ultrasonic waves and their return by reflection to the sensor. This time will then be converted into the distance between the level sensor and the grain surface of the silo in order to know the filling rate of the silo.
Please note that these level sensors are battery-operated. There is therefore no need to provide a power supply. This battery is designed to last an average of 5 years. It is possible, depending on the model, to easily replace it at the end of this period.
How is a level probe installed?
A level probe must be able to send its ultrasonic waves through the grain in the silo to calculate the silo’s filling rate. Based on this assumption, the level probe must be installed inside the silo.
Thanks to a secure telecommunication network such as Sigfox or LoRaWAN for example, the level probe can transmit the collected data directly from inside the silo.
Good to know: the installation of a level probe can be carried out on plastic or steel silos, buried or on feet.
What is the difference between a level sensor and a sensor for connected silos?
A level probe is sometimes also called a level sensor. Therefore, what is the difference between a level sensor and a sensor for connected silos?
Behind these confusing names, however, there is a big difference. Indeed, it is not the same technology used to measure the filling rate of a silo.
The level sensor will measure the level in the silo by emitting ultrasonic waves.
The sensor for connected silos will be composed of a strain gauge that can detect micro-deformations of a silo. These micro deformations will be caused by the change in level of the grain contained in the silo. Thanks to the algorithm, the data collected by the sensor about these micro-deformations will allow to know the filling level of the silo.
The sensor for connected silos is therefore also a so-called connected object that allows the collected data to be sent to a database. Agricultural professionals will be able to easily check the level of their silos directly through a mobile application with secure access.
In addition to the technology used to measure the filling level of a silo, there is another difference between these 2 devices. Indeed, the level probe must be installed in the silo to be able to carry out its measurements. This is not the case with the sensor for connected silos, which is fixed directly on one of the silo feet. The sensor for connected silos is therefore installed outside the silo. It is therefore not in contact with foodstuffs and can in no way interfere with the quality of the stored grain.