Gems Sensors - PRODUCT NEWS

Marine monitoring

Continuing innovation in the design of pressure, level and flow sensors is providing robust yet sensitive components that can be used in a wide range of marine applications, says Mike Powers, Product Marketing Director for Gems Sensors and Controls.

The latest developments in flow, level and pressure sensor construction have yielded excellent results and enabled these components to overcome such challenges as contamination and extremes of temperature, and function accurately over extended periods. Today’s pressure, level and flow devices can also cope with constant shipboard vibration, yet continue to give accurate readings; an impressive feat when you consider the sensitivity of these components and the accuracy of their measurements. Across the board, there is increasing potential for the use of marine sensors.

For example, the right installation and specification can result in the provision of a flow sensor with significantly enhanced capabilities. To enable switch actuation at the desired flow rate, flow paddles can be trimmed during installation; this allows the paddle of the switch to pivot and move out of the liquid path as flow increases, keeping pressure drop to a minimum regardless of pipe size. In addition, the large flow paths now designed into flow sensors keep pressure drop low; they also enable detection to be effectively carried out where liquids, including oil, are being handled in high volumes, such as within lubrication, cooling or process applications.

When it comes to level measurement, the best of today’s components are packaged within protective housings that maintain reliable operation even if there is solid matter in the bilge water. These components can now be obtained with vulcanised cables, offering level switches with an ingress protection rating of IP67 for use as submersibles. Switches of this calibre deliver a powerful solution for marine engineers when point level sensing is required in inaccessible areas of tanks.

A component used in a wide range of marine applications is the pressure transducer, offering dependable operation in particularly aggressive conditions. A pressure transducer converts pressure, typically that of fluid or gas, into an electrical signal and delivers a continuous output of electrical signals that correspond to the precise pressure status. Pressure sensors contain a thin sealed sensing element or diaphragm that is in direct contact with the pressure media. Displacement of the diaphragm thus causes the strain gauge to flex, either in compression or under tension, with the electrical output being directly proportional to the pressure or vacuum applied.

Output from the sensor is connected to on-board electronics. Coupled with an ASIC electronics package, the performance and functionality of each transducer can be tuned to meet the specific requirements of individual customers. One of the benefits of ASIC technology has been a significant reduction in manufacturing costs, which can only lead to an even greater presence of pressure sensors in marine applications.

The result of combining extremely sensitive pressure sensing elements with a sophisticated electronics package has resulted in some impressive statistics; responses to changes in pressure have been measured at 1m/sec or less, while sensor accuracy has shown almost zero drift over time. What’s more, this level of performance can be maintained over long periods; transducers can now offer an operating life in excess of 100 million cycles.

Gems Sensors and Controls manufactures a range of highly versatile and resilient pressure transducers using CVD, including the 2600 Series, a submersible sensor offering stability and accuracy in a variety of enclosure options rated at IP65 and above. For marine applications, the Gems 5000 Series transducer is cased in duplex stainless steel, providing a tough resistance to the corrosive effect of sea water, and has provided a highly efficient solution on board ship in low pressure applications, such as gauging large but shallow tanks.

Pressure, level and flow are all essential criteria that have to be measured in a wide range of shipboard systems, from bilges, fuel and water tanks, to alarm, hydraulic and diesel equipment. The sensors now used to measure these criteria are extremely robust, yet provide high levels of accuracy under often extremely demanding environmental and mechanical conditions.

About Gems Sensors & Controls
Founded in 1955, Gems is a preferred supplier to thousands of OEM companies across a broad range of industries throughout the world due to its extensive application knowledge, innovative sensor and miniature solenoid valve designs, and customer centric approach to problem solving to meet customer-specific needs. Gems Sensors and Controls is a leading global manufacturer of: liquid level, flow, and pressure sensors; solid-state relays and barriers; liquid and pneumatic miniature solenoid valves; and pre-assembled fluidic systems with facilities in North America, Europe, and Asia. Gems Sensors & Controls is ISO 9001, ISO 13485, UL, and CE certified.
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Gems Sensors and Controls

July 2013

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