Opening Up Measurement Capabilities in Life Sciences

Traditionally playing in oil and gas and chemical industries, Vega is making a move to a wide range of biotechnology and pharmaceutical applications with its new pressure and level sensors.

Vega’s Greg Kline demonstrates how the presence of foam can cause a color shift on the company’s 360-degree color display, making it easy to see when the status has changed.
Vega’s Greg Kline demonstrates how the presence of foam can cause a color shift on the company’s 360-degree color display, making it easy to see when the status has changed.

As a company focused primarily on the chemical and oil and gas industries, Vega has had little visibility in the life sciences sector. “We have innovated for very specific markets,” noted Scott Rollman, director of sales for Vega Americas. Though pharmaceuticals and food and beverage are big industries, he added, “we have a very, very low market share in these industries today. We didn’t focus on them; we didn’t innovate for those industries. That’s something that’s changed dramatically.”

Speaking at a recent event near Chicago, Vega personnel introduced several new devices to a team of representatives from Enpro, a process instrumentation sales company that works in partnership with Vega Americas. In addition to introducing devices focused on replacing ultrasonic applications with radar technology, Vega made a case for its increased foray into life sciences.

With the plics instrument platform that Vega introduced in 2003—providing flexibility with very easily interchangeable devices—the company found applications in pharmaceutical storage, for example, because it was very similar to its applications in refineries or chemical plants, Rollman said. “That’s what we were good at, and we had products that fit.” Vega is looking to change its history and get a stronger foothold in pharmaceuticals, deeper into the process with applications in filtration systems, bioprocessing vessels, capsule filling, and more.

With hygienic and sterile processes in mind, Vega has expanded its measurement technology portfolio with two new series of compact pressure sensors and level switches for hygienic processes. New Vegabar pressure sensors can be provided with metallic or ceramic measuring cells, providing flexibility for hygienic applications. Vegapoint capacitive level switches come in various formats for water-based liquids, oils, and light bulk solids.

“This opens us up to a new space that prior we didn’t have,” said Grant Cook, a sales engineer at Enpro. “For us, it’s an exciting prospect for existing customers that we’ve been servicing.”

The universal, flexible hygienic adapter system for the new series of instruments reduces the amount of work involved, and the required spare parts inventory.The universal, flexible hygienic adapter system for the new series of instruments reduces the amount of work involved, and the required spare parts inventory.VegaBoth the Vegabar and Vegapoint devices use a universal hygienic adapter system, which provides the flexibility to keep installation efforts and parts inventory to a minimum. Process fittings can be selected as needed to meet application-specific requirements.

The newest sensors have also been optimized for the pharma industry in terms of suitability for clean-in-place (CIP) and sterilization-in-place (SIP) applications. “They’re very hygienic as far as cleaning,” said Greg Kline, food and beverage industry manager for Vega Americas, noting also that compliance with 3-A sanitary standards is on its way. “And we will have all stainless-steel enclosures available by the end of 2020 for those who need it.”

Vegabar compact pressure sensors with switch function and Vegapoint capacitive level switches—both tailored to standard applications—feature a 360-degree status display, which can be set to any of 256 different colors and easily seen from any direction.Vegabar compact pressure sensors with switch function and Vegapoint capacitive level switches—both tailored to standard applications—feature a 360-degree status display, which can be set to any of 256 different colors and easily seen from any direction.VegaKline seemed particularly excited during his demonstrations about the fact that all the new pressure sensors and point level switches come standard with a 360-degree switching status display. The color of the illuminated ring can be customized with one of 256 different colors, all of which remain clearly visible, even in daylight. This lets users see quickly—at a glance, from any angle in a facility—when a process is running, if the sensor is switching, or if the sensor requires maintenance. In his demonstrations, Kline showed how the sensors could be programmed to change color depending on the presence of foam, a certain pressure level, point level, hydrostatic level—all kinds of possibilities.

“Now we have great quality, trendsetting innovation, and we can bring color into view,” Kline said.

“There are neat things you can do with the colors,” added John Burnett, vice president of sales for Enpro. He noted how the colors could even be used to show what product is in a pipe at any given time.

Standard IO-Link protocol is also built into every pressure sensor and point level switch, providing a standardized communication platform that enables seamless data transfer and simple system integration.

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