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Advanced micro-wave sensor technology for robust, remote maintainable control system for concrete products manufacturing

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Information technology facilitates concrete production

While the information technology revolution has substantially altered our everyday life, certain traditional industrial sectors have only recently started to reap the benefits of modern technology. The current project has developed an intelligent C++ driver for an array of sensitive microwave sensors that are able to probe into concrete and report on its quality, offers for the first time, at low costs, to the SME's involved in concrete production an innovative and highly efficient process control system.

Industrial Technologies

A new, advanced multiple frequency microwave sensor system has been developed that is capable of on-line measurements of raw material moisture with an accuracy of +/- 0.2%. The usage of multiple frequencies enables collection of information about the size of sand particles in the concrete's mixture. The system is also equipped with a micro controller for sensor data pre-processing while a common commercial protocol, such as CAN-bus is used for communication between the sensor system and the control system. Finally the control software is a modern object oriented C++ class library including several innovative procedures that have been developed in order to make optimal use of the sensor system under control. Project partners have paid special attention to the fact that in traditional industrial application areas such as concrete production the SME's involved have limited resources for possible investments. They have, therefore, co-operated closely with concrete manufacturers during the system's development to achieve and guarantee an industrial production system of high quality, availability, robustness and autonomy. Moreover, the control system's open architecture facilitates the integration and interfacing of the system in the often heterogeneous production environment. The benefits for the end-user companies that will introduce the advanced technologies proposed by the current project are many. The quality and consequently the workability of wet concrete will increase, as will productivity and throughput. In addition, hand operating costs, production of waste and production of defective goods will reduce substantially. The project's results have been tested thoroughly and successfully in different production facilities. For the market introduction of the system an industrial version of the sensor system and the control software can be rapidly developed from the currently available prototype.

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