Fluid Switch Blog

FISHING BOAT

Float Switch Failure Partly to Blame for Fishing Boat Diesel Spill

Float switches play an important role in many industries. From detecting the level of liquid inside of a tank, to controlling devices and even setting off alarms when pre-set parameters are met. The significance of a float switch increases when it’s being used to prevent oil leaks or spills and must protect the public and the environment.

For a lesson in just how important a role float switch functionality plays in fuel and oil safety, take a look at a recent case in Devon, England where owners of a fishing boat allowed hundreds of liters of diesel oil to spill into Sutton Harbour.

Mechanical Float Switch Failure

The owner plead guilty to trying to transfer fuel internally from one tank to another and leaving the vessel pump unsupervised. While the skipper walked away to help his staff with other duties on the boat, he relied on the mechanical float switch to stop transferring the fuel once the tank was full. When the float switch failed to activate, the end result was thousands of dollars in fines, many man hours of clean-up efforts, and inevitable pollution that could have been avoided.

While the float switch failure is partially to blame for the spill, it also offers as a reminder that purchasing reliable float switches and working with a reputable manufacturer is key. In addition to being vigilant about product testing and maintenance, operators should also be trained on responsible handling of hazardous materials to prevent accidents like this one.

Float Switches for the Oil & Gas Applications

Depending on the application, float switches will need to operate in different ways, so great care must be taken when choosing the type of material and design of a float switch for harsh environments.

For example, ultrasonic level sensors offer more functionality then standard mechanical float switches because they continuously monitor liquid levels.

SMD Fluid Controls designs and manufactures liquid level sensors and float switches for a multitude of industries and uses. Many products ideal for use in the oil & gas industries including standard mechanical float switches, ultrasonic switches, or others. Depending on each specific applications requirements and the type of liquid medium being measured, the type of sensor will change.

FS20 FLUIDSWITCH

FS20 – Stainless Steel High Pressure Liquid Level Switch

Made from 316 stainless steel and custom-designed for high pressure applications, these 2” floats are buoyant, provide both NO or NC operation and can be configured for specific project requirements if needed. They are also UL recognized for hazardous locations.

FS21 fluidswitch

FS21 – Full Size Stainless Steel Float Switch

Also a great option for oil and gas applications, these stainless steel vertical float switches are UL recognized for hazardous locations, corrosion resistant and durable and deliver reliability, accuracy and versatility. Configurations can also be customized if needed.

Contact SMD Fluid Controls to talk to an expert and get started.

Study: Global Float Switch Market to Continue Upward Trend

The global float switch market is on a steady incline with growth rates increasing by $43.9M. This accounts for a CAGR of more than 3 percent according to the latest research from TechNavio.

Float Switch Applications

Float switches are significant in many industries. They provide accuracy for detecting the level of liquids or other matter inside of a tank or vessel. Not just measurement, but the switches can serve additional functions like activating an alarm, controlling a pump, or even other devices.

As application use grows, the market will see a steady increase. According the Technavio study, the global market will grow from $235.4M in 2016 to $279.3M in 2021.

A float switch can be used in either a vertical or horizontal application. Their low installation and maintenance costs are also a strong point driving growth of the float switch market.

In industrial sectors like oil and gas, power, water and wastewater, horizontal float switches have been leading the way for investment growth.

Bharath Kanniappan, lead automation research expert at Technavio commented, “The demand for these products is expected to continue throughout the forecast period mainly due to the demand from the oil and gas, water and wastewater, chemicals, and automotive industries.”

“There are many investments in these industrial sectors for process automation and to meet the government regulations on workplace safety. This will have a positive impact on the global float switch market as many end-users use these switches for liquid level measurement.”

Global Growth

The report also looked closely at growth in regions across the globe. The Americas accounted for the largest revenue generation in chemical, automotive and power industries. However, APAC is becoming the fastest growing market. The region is seeing investments increase as the need for portable water and treatment grows in China, India and Singapore.

In EMEA, growth has been slower but promise remains. Many manufacturing locations are  under pressure to upgrade their facilities to remain compliant with new government regulations.

SMD Fluid Controls, named among the leading vendors in this report, designs and manufactures both horizontal and vertically mountable float switches for a range of industries. Find out more.

FORD CAR

Ford Recall Highlights Need for Level Sensors in Automobiles

Car recalls are a common occurrence. Manufacturers are constantly having to revisit design flaws, and other more serious issues that may crop up. Those recalls that include a more serious fix are never taken lightly. The most recent recall from car giant Ford revolves around the risk of fires from a coolant leak in a number of their vehicles.

The issue is that many of their 1.6-liter turbocharged engines can overheat. During this process of overheating, coolant is used up and when low enough, can cause the cylinder head to crack, leak oil and then possibly create an engine fire.

Level Sensors

As a solution to the coolant issues, the company announced back in March 2017 that owners of affected models would be able to take their car to a dealer where a coolant level sensor “with supporting hardware and software” would be installed.

This recall highlights the importance of level sensors in the automotive industry as a solution to a number of possible fuel and engine problems.

Automotive Fuel Level Sensors

Recent research of the telematics and fuel monitoring industry predicts that the global automotive fuel level sensor market will grow at a CAGR of 1.66 percent from 2017-2021. This market increase is driven by the acceptance of level sensors and their ability to monitor fuel levels remotely while reducing the occurrence of fuel theft.

Level sensors are perfect when used to detect the level of liquids or other fluids such a fuel or coolant inside of container or other vessel because they are able to measure the exact amount of the substance at any given time. With sensors in place, there can be ample time for preventive action before a larger issue occurs.

SMD Fluid Controls

SMD Fluid Controls’ continuous level sensing solutions can be used for fuel level measurement, oil level measurement, and coolant systems checks. Point level sensors can instead be used where temperature, pressure, and agitated conditions may occur.

FS25 FLOATSWITCH

The small size of the FS25 – Ultra Miniature Plastic Float Switch from SMD Fluid Controls makes it a great option in these applications. Tank intrusion is kept to a minimum and their small design makes for easy mounting.

FS01 float switch

Another great option for these applications are the FS01 – Economy Plastic Float Switches. Not only are they small and cost effective, but they can also be custom designed or modified to meet exact application requirements.

If you have questions about what kind of sensors would work best for your needs, contact SMD Fluid Controls for a consultation today.

industrial pressure

Custom Sensors Ensure Your Oil Tank is Full & Functional During Winter Deep Freeze

Most of the Northeast has already been experiencing a super cold winter with snow accumulations to match. For many, cleaning up the snow isn’t the only battle they’ve had to face. Homeowners and businesses are also battling a total loss of heat as delivery and repair companies struggle to keep up with demands. The frigid weather on the East Coast also increases the risk for pipe bursts and the issues that can bring.

Loss of Heat

There’s few things worse than sitting indoors with no heat during record low temperatures. But that’s the reality for those whose tanks have run completely dry as they wait for an oil delivery. Homeowners shocked to see how little oil was in their tanks before the deep freeze came around, are also now realizing that skipping their yearly maintenance was probably not a wise idea.

System Failures

In addition to being unable to heat the home without oil, running a furnace with no oil in the tank can cause system failures and breakdowns due to dirt circulating the system, over stressing fans and other problems.

While this is an unfortunate reality many are now combating, intelligent monitoring of fuel and temperatures inside of oil tanks could have prevented these issues from occurring.

FT20 custom

Custom Temperature Switches

Having accurate measurement of temperatures of surrounding fluids is crucial in the heating industry. Fluidswitch’s FT20 line of switches are continuous-function sensors and perfect for oil temperature measurements. They work with extreme precision by gauging electrical resistance relative to the temperature of the surrounding fluids. In this case, a custom probe can be created to measure the temperature and ensure loss of heat never occurs.

Ultrasonic Level Sensors

For even more protection and peace of mind, Fluidswitch FT temperature sensors can be used together with custom level sensors to increase efficiency. The ultrasonic liquid level sensors will continuously monitor oil tank levels in real-time without the need to touch the medium being measured – so you’ll never enter a deep freeze unprepared again.

Contact Fluidswitch Today

While these extremely cold temps might be a special condition not always seen in the heating industry, SMD Fluid Controls is able to modify standard parts or design custom fluid sensors to accommodate elements such as temperature, pressure, depth, materials, fitting, and more.

Want to learn more about customizing parts to fit your needs? Contact us to schedule a consultation.

 

Fluidswitch FH13

What to Look for When Buying a Float Switch or Level Sensor

Float switches and liquid level sensors play an important role in applications across many industries. While they are used for detecting, measuring and monitoring liquids and other fluids, it’s their reliability that make them perfect for both the simplest systems as well as the most demanding applications.

Making a purchase decision however can be tricky since there are several factors that could change what type of float switch or level sensor you should select.  In this blog, we’ll go over some of the things to keep in mind as you evaluate the options.

What Will You Be Measuring / Monitoring

The first thing to consider is how the float switch or level sensor is going to be used. The job that it will be doing and where and which medium will be measured, are all very important factors. Using the wrong switch in an environment could cause it to fail and larger issues to occur. And this is no simple matter when you’re talking about dangerous situations where lives are put at risk.

For example, in the oil and gas industries, liquid level sensors are critical for safety as emergency shut-offs that could prevent a chemical spill or explosion are activated as soon as these sensors detect the presence or absence of liquid at any given time.

Another type known as, “continuous level measurement,” measures liquid levels in real-time. When it comes to applications like boilers, these switches can prevent overflows. Low level liquid detection can also stop a system from breaking down and even keep pumps working efficiently.

Where Should the Switch / Sensor Be Located?

Next you’ll want to think about where the switch or sensor will be located. Placing it on the outside or inside of a tank and even which direction it will be facing, will change depending on accessibility and the medium being measured.

smd fs25

Plastic float switches are suitable for tanks where only water is being measured but, once that liquid changes to something dangerous or flammable, the switch will need to be stainless steel.

Accessibility to a tank will determine whether you should select a vertical or horizontal float switch. In instances where you can’t access the sides of the tank, vertical, or side-mounted float switches, are the best choice. These are mounted through a hermetically sealed hole on the side of a tank.

However, when the top or bottom of the tank can’t be accessed, vertical fluid switches are a better choice because they are mounted in two parts. First, the stem is put either at the top or bottom of a tank or vessel along with a float and reed switches on the inside that send signals to the outside of the tank when the levels of the float and reed switch align.

SMD Fluid Controls offers sensors ideal for an array of applications and uses including corrosion-resistant level switches, non-contact ultrasonic models, and more. Contact us today to speak with one of our switch and sensor experts to find a solution to fit your needs. Speak with a PRO!

beer brewing

Craft Beer Not the Same without Temperature Sensors & Float Switches

Breweries and the popularity around drinking craft beer selections isn’t an entirely new concept. Sure we’ve all heard of the big-name beer companies, but independently-owned operations, better known as “microbreweries,” have really become a trendy and in-demand industry over just the last decade.

The fact that there are so many different flavors and varieties of beer to choose from and the overall experience that comes along with tasting them, has brought the industry attention from crowds around the globe who have become dedicated fans.

Brewing Craft Beers

Getting that crisp, delicious taste you favor in a craft beer is a process that takes time and some special tools. Craft beer connoisseurs even choose their beer selections based on how they are brewed.

two craft beers on bar

The most basic ingredients used to brew beers include malted barley or other grains, hops, yeast and water. There are numerous steps that are taken to turn the ingredients into the brew you favor. We won’t go too deep into that here, but there’s some great information on the brewing process over at Craft Brewers Guild.

Temperature Sensors

Throughout the beer brewing process, temperature and time are two key components we’d like to focus on as varying these elements can change the type of beer that results. From the very beginning of the process, when the brewer is just malting the barely, and all the way down the line to the fermentation process, active temperature management is key.

Accurate measures are needed to ensure the wort is cooled at the right pace to keep microbial contamination away.  Once a safe temperature is reached, it is then added to the fermentation tanks with the yeast and the true magic happens.

Leave out the temperature monitoring and accuracy element in the process and you really won’t get that brew fans enjoy. So how do you keep measurements inside of a tank? With level sensors and temperature gauges.

Not only will accurate sensors make it possible to have great brews as an outcome, but they can also automate the process for microbrewers so they cut down on overhead while increasing production levels.

Fluid Switches for Breweries

SMD Fluid Controls’ FT20 custom liquid temperature sensor is ideally suited for reservoirs and delivers unrivaled quality and durability, making the FT20 temperature switches ideal for the craft brew industry.  Combined with custom level sensors, the efficiency and capabilities increase.

SMD FT20

For example, SMD’s FM22 multilevel float switch is rugged, stainless steel and designed for full-size tank level detection. It’s also corrosion resistant and able to withstand high max pressure and temperature thresholds for use with different types of liquid.

smd fm20

And it’s not just the brewing that liquid level float switches can help with. They can also be used to ensure storage containers don’t overflow, for waste water, bottling, handling and transport assistance.

Without temperature sensors and float switches, microbrewers simply won’t be able to achieve the consistent product that craft brew fans become loyal to – and that dedicated fan base is the heart of today’s craft beer industry.

Get in touch with SMD Fluid Controls today to learn more.

RENEWABLE ENERGY

Float Switches & Renewable Energy – Delivering Dependable Resources

The alternative energy industry is booming thanks to growing support and increased competitive advantage over traditional methods. According to research from Deloitte, the demand has become so strong in fact, that it is now more commonly referred to as “renewable” energy as opposed to “alternative.” The report also notes that declining costs and increased demands will continue to bring innovation to the marketplace for renewable energy.

Float switches for the renewable energy market are helping to power and monitor applications across industries. Think about all of the bio fuel, bio gas, hydroelectric and many other renewable energy sources we’re using today to fuel vehicles, engines and cells. Keeping those systems operating optimally and continually requires constant monitoring.

Float Switches

Float switches are an important part of the overall picture in the renewable energy space.  Since they are used to detect the presence (or absence) of a liquid levels, the float switches are critical to prevent overflow, conserve water and keep systems performing optimally for the full life of the product. Putting unnecessary strain on any system can cause it to breakdown prematurely. With a float switch, it is possible to monitor what’s happening inside of your tank – such as a malfunction – even if you can’t visibly see the interior. It’s also a great way to control of water pumps, monitor furnaces or to keep workers in these dangerous industries safe from hazard.

SMD Float Switches

SMD Fluid Controls offers numerous horizontal and vertical float switches. The market for these offerings is the strongest in the sector due to growing end users in process industries like waste water, oil, chemical processing, and more.

FH-VIW horizontal float switch

The FH-VIW series, a plastic side-mounted horizontal float switch, is available with 10 or 50 watt switching capabilities, 80°C and is 25 PSIG max and optional Buna floats for oils and other low specific gravity float switch applications.

SMD’s FH-VIW float switch also provides a 90 degree design and eliminates the problems encountered with typical “pivot type” side mounted float switches – so they are more dependable for a fraction of the cost of many competing horizontal float switches.

Technavio’s recent report, Global Float Switch Market 2017-2021, named the company a key vendor in the global float switch market. Earlier this year, Apex Research also named SMD as a key player in its Global Float Level Switch Market Professional Survey 2017 Industry Trend and Forecast.

Contact SMD Fluid Controls today to learn more about the FH-VIW and other offerings to suit your application needs.

Pressure Sensor Market to See Strong Growth

Pressure sensors are important because they accurately measure and monitor critical elements in so many applications. Everything from the air in tires, to the oil needed for a machine to run, is made possible thanks to proper pressure sensors.

As the use cases develop, the market for pressure sensors is also experiencing strong growth. A recent report from Zion Market Research found that the pressure sensors market will reach $9.5B by 2020. This represents a 6 percent CAGR from 2014 when the market was valued at $6.5B.

Industry Demands

Demands are being driven by usage of pressure sensors in the automotive industry to monitor tire and gas pressure, and to meet stringent government regulations. Also expected to drive growth are the use of pressure sensors in medical devices and applications to monitor things like blood pressure and proper drug delivery as well as in consumer electronics – think wearable devices and smartphones that can perform functions more precisely with sensors.

Other industries benefiting from use of pressure sensors include oil & gas, waste water and wells, where measuring liquids can be hard to do or difficult to reach. In these cases, downhole submersible sensors are used to reach depths of up to 700 feet and can be submersed in liquid to measure pressure output.

Fluidswitch FT60 pressure sensors

Fluidswitch offers liquid level sensing with its FT60 pressure sensors used to indicate the level of liquid by continuously measuring hydrostatic pressure with a sophisticated sensing element.

SMD P571 pressure sensor

SMD Pressure Sensors

SMD manufactures pressure sensors like the P571 pressure sensor, for use in pressure transducers and other OEM pressure measurement applications like aerospace, automotive, industrial, down-hole and so much more. Our specialty is in offering solutions that work for you.

Whether you need an off-the-shelf pressure sensor or something fully customized, let Strain Measurement Devices design the right sensor for you. Contact us today!

Optical Level Sensors for Leak Detection

Industries today are under constant demand to deliver always on and always reliable services – regardless of environment. To assist them with this task, many are relying on technologies that monitor and accurately measure the solutions and systems that are critical to their operations.

This type of accuracy and monitoring while advantageous for some, is absolutely critical in industries like .

What are Level Sensors?

Level sensors in a very basic sense do exactly what the name implies- measure the amount of substance contained in a vessel, vat, container or other apparatus. Typically a separate system is used to get the results of what the sensors are measuring and from that data, it’s possible to uncover whether or not further action, dangers or any other outcomes will occur.

optical level sensorHow are Optical Sensors Used?

While there are different types of sensors used for various types of liquids and other substances, optical level sensors can detect and sense different types of liquids that do not dissolve when together (like oil and water). The optical switches operate off of an infrared LED that checks for changes in the light’s transmission (reflection) to detect and confirm changes.

Advantages for Leak Detection

Since optical liquid sensors operate well in any size tanks, they are a go-to option for leak detection. The monitoring and prevention of leaks is critical for service interruptions, to protect equipment and is critical to many industries. From damage caused by mechanicals running dry, or water and oil spillage from leaks, the needs are varied.

As the importance of these sensors grows, the market will continue to increase in demand. Market projections from Research and Markets show the level sensor market will reach $5.32 billion by 2023.

SMD sensors are a great choice due to their superior accuracy, reliability, and long-term stability in harsh environments. Our optical liquid level sensors can be used for sensing in water and numerous other liquids to attain precise measurements.

Contact us to find out more and schedule a free consultation.

food

How Level Sensors Are Used for Food Processing

Level sensors play an integral role in many industries. From monitoring critical liquid levels, to ensuring safety, the applications are vast. In the food processing industry, the ability to prevent harmful contamination, spoiling, or machine malfunction, are just a few of the ways liquid level and float sensors are used.

As manufacturers work toward meeting stringent guidelines, the various sensors, switches and computerized systems used in food processing make it possible to get accurate information about the contents of their machines.

Here are some of the top ways level sensors are used to ensure the food we’re consuming is processed properly.

Product Quality

Food spoil, sanitation and other concerns like contamination are all a part of the food processing industry. To maintain high levels of product quality, it’s vital that exact measures of ingredients are used and that temperatures are maintained during the production process. Changes in these parameters could have an effect on the quality and safety of products. SMD Fluid Controls’ float switches are a great option for food processing because they are durable, resist corrosion and have high temperature capabilities.

float switchProduct Consistency

Trying to get something exactly the same every single time can be a daunting task. For manufacturers there is no other way. Maintaining consistent quality with every batch is critical to the bottom line and to maintaining customer loyalty. With level sensors, the food industry is able to monitor the contents of a tank or vessels for malfunctions or other factors contributing to inaccurate consistency.

Compliance

In addition to strict sanitation rules from the government for food processing, the Food and Drug Administration also conducts inspections around how food and beverages undergo processing if they will be consumed by the public. This includes stringent inspections to verify the calibration and accuracy of any processing equipment the food must pass through. SMD Fluid Controls’ temperature switches are a great way to ensure liquids are adequately/consistently heated for applications like pasteurization, and more.

SMD Fluid Controls has locations in both the United States and the United Kingdom and designs and manufactures level sensors for a diverse range of industries. For more information about our offerings contact us.