What Technologies are Used to Measure the Levels in an IBC Tank

What Technologies are Used to Measure the Levels in an IBC Tank?

When it comes to choosing technologies you can use to measure IBC tank levels, there are several options at your disposal. Given the variety, some are better suited to certain job applications. However, in most cases, choosing the best technology for IBC tank level measurement is a complicated process. This makes it important for you to understand the different types of technologies used for the same purpose-“you will be better positioned to make a good choice. Apart from level measurement, IBC tank monitoring systems also help you achieve an accurate result. This article will discuss the various technologies and how they are applied in measuring IBC tank levels.

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Level-Measurement Applications

It is very important to know the amount of liquid in a tank during the production process. This information is needed to fill out one of these requirements:

  • Custody transfer: this information is needed to meet both legal and commercial requirements for detailed and accurate measurements of materials in question.
  • Consistent supply: this information also answers whether the required volume of materials to customer demand and production has been met.
  • Safety: production companies should avoid overflows and overfills to avoid environmental issues and prevent injury. Knowing the IBC tank levels will help them do so.
  • Process efficiency: there is a need to maintain an appropriate level of materials to regulate and optimize production. They should also efficiently use storage options.
  • Inventory control: a production company should ensure they are purchasing and stocking the required volume of material.

Technology Considerations

Before discussing the different technologies used, you must know factors to consider when choosing one. The primary consideration at this point is: are you measuring liquids or solids? You should note that there are different meter types, with others suited for specific purposes. Therefore, identifying whether you measure a solid or liquid will help you choose the appropriate technology.

Another thing you should consider is: do you need point-level or continuous measurement? This is also an essential factor when it comes to selecting the right technology.

Discussed below are some of the common technologies used in measuring IBC tank levels.

Differential Pressure

This is by far the oldest and perhaps, the most trusted IBC tank level measurement technology. It is commonly used for liquefied gases and liquids in both closed and open tanks. It can also be used on pressurized tanks. With this technology, the meter includes a diaphragm with a sensor and a stable body to measure the liquid’s pressure in the vessel. When pressure is exerted, the diaphragm deflects, changing the electrical property of the sensor. This leads to the creation of a proportional electrical signal. Note that the sensor in this technology could be one of the many different types.

Determining the value and depth of signal requires you to do some math. It includes three variables: density, pressure, and the measures of product level or height. In this case, the density must be entered as a constant. When used in open tanks, the meter determines the differential between fluid pressure and atmospheric pressure. However, in closed tanks, it calculates the differential between fluid pressure and the low-side blanket pressure. The accuracy of calculations in both cases depends on knowing the fluid density.


This is one of the latest technologies used to measure IBC tank levels. It is among the most recent advancements in level-measurement technology. Over the last five years, this technology improved to become the most reliable and mature. With this method, a laser is mounted at the top of the vessel facing downwards. To produce the required measurement, the laser emits a flash of light. This light is reflected from the surface of the material to a point on the meter where the content has been detected. It is important to note that the distance is calculated based on the time it takes the laser to travel to the surface and back to the equipment.

The laser beam is significantly narrower compared to the sound pulse used in ultrasonic technology. With almost no beam spread, it is possible to determine the ideal mounting location that ensures reliable and consistent readings. This is possible even in IBC tanks with many obstructions. Normally, the laser emitter can be mounted anywhere on the tank lid, but rarely along its walls. For the best results, you should place the radar systems at the top of the tank. Besides, this technology works well in narrow IBC tanks, giving it an edge over others.


This technology relies on emitted sound waves to calculate the material level. It does so by gauging the distance between the surface of the material and the top-of-tank transducer. This method works on both solid and liquid content. Its operations start when the transducer emits short ultrasound impulses that represent the mechanical energy. When this happens, the waves bounce off the material like an echo and return to the transducer. In return, the transducer calculates the time of flight to determine the height of the tank’s content. This will lead to the emission of a narrow beam, with obstructions blocked from affecting the accuracy.

Unlike other technologies, this doesn’t have bottom penetration in the tank, reducing the risk of leaks. Besides, the ultrasonic meter is also not affected by the various changes in material gravity and density. However, given that sound waves cannot travel in a vacuum, this technology cannot be used in reduced-pressure vessels or vacuums. Its accuracy can also be affected by the absorption and dispersion of the liquid. For instance, foam can create inaccurate reflections.

Guided Wave Radar (GWR)

Also known as time-domain reflectometry, GWR is a technology whereby the meter is mounted on top of the tank with a probe that extends the vessel’s full depth. It works when a low-energy pulse of microwaves is channeled down the probe. Upon reaching the liquid level, a certain amount of microwave energy is reflected up the probe transmitter. To ensure high accuracy levels, the delay between the received and transmitted echo is used to calculate the distance to the liquid surface. In most cases, this reflective action depends on the liquid’s dielectric value. High-dielectric liquids will reflect the entire pulse, providing an accurate and reliable measurement.

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Tech in Tanks: The IBC Logistical Upgrade

Knowing the different types of technologies used to measure IBC tank levels, it is upon you to decide which one to use. Keep in mind the different factors discussed in making your choice.

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