The clients of a major equipment manufacturer were unhappy because their carbon dioxide tanks often displayed incorrect levels. During a Value Innovation Workshop, WIKA’s experts analyzed the problem and came up with customized solutions that delighted the manufacturer.
Differential pressure gauges are a common tool to indicate level in pressurized tanks. A pointer moves along a display scale according to the difference in pressure on both sides of the gauge’s flexible membrane to indicate how much product is in the tank.
A major manufacturer of vacuum insulated products makes carbon dioxide tanks for soft drink dispensers, and it was using a competitor’s differential pressure gauge to measure the liquid CO2 level. The manufacturer, however, was unhappy because this gauge was very inaccurate when the tank was close to full. The tanks have an automatic shutoff system to ensure they are completely topped off. However, even when they were 100% full, the value that was displayed sometimes fluctuated between 75% and 80%. As a result, customers were confused. They thought they were not receiving all the CO2 they paid for.
Addressing the Problem
The manufacturer became increasingly dissatisfied with the gauge and its supplier who, although aware of the problem, had done nothing to resolve it. That’s why they reached out to WIKA for a better differential pressure gauge to replace the inaccurate ones it had been using.
WIKA was happy to assist and suggested that the design for a new gauge begin with a Value Innovation Workshop (VIW). This is a full-day interactive meeting between the client and WIKA’s experts to not only solve existing problems, but also to come up with inventive ways to improve processes and prepare for future industry requirements. Through a brainstorming session and in-depth discussions, VIWs bring the best ideas from both teams to the table.
Other Issues to Take into Consideration
For this particular VIW, eight WIKA managers and engineers met with about a dozen technical, product, and sales staff from the manufacturer. The brainstorming initially focused on finding a WIKA replacement for the current differential pressure gauge, but other issues soon became apparent:
- Regulatory agencies were instituting more stringent temperature requirements.
- An accurate measurement of the 30% mark is key, as that signals to users when to request a refill.
The manufacturer needs a compact gauge, as there is no room in the tank for a large one.
After a productive exchange of ideas, the two teams came up with a list of must-haves for the new differential pressure gauge:
- Ability to withstand 500 psi overpressures on a range of 2 psid (psi differential)
- An accuracy of ± 5% full scale or better
- Wetted parts that are compatible not only with CO2, but also with the latest material standards for the food industry
- Ability to function properly at a minimum media temperature of −65°F (−54°C)
- Ability to withstand temperatures to −70°F (−57°C) without leaking
- Ability to withstand ambient temperatures between 0°F and 140°F (−18°C and 60°C)
- Fewer than 1 failure in 10,000 units produced on any component
- Small footprint
- Easy to install in a manufacturing environment
The manufacturer also came up with a few nice-to-haves. Ideally, the new differential pressure gauge would be suitable for all applications and have an electrical output for telemetry.
Using their extensive experience and WIKA’s technology, WIKA’s expert designed a new gauge to meet the manufacturer’s requirements for accuracy, compatibility, temperature ranges, and reliability. The manufacturer was very pleased with the features of WIKA’s prototype and how well it performed during testing. Production shipments are on their way.
WIKA is also working on adding an electrical output for remote level monitoring that will minimize transportation and delivery costs. We expect this new differential pressure gauge to be the solution of choice for the beverage market.
Value Innovation Workshops analyze problems systematically from the ground up to understand the underlying issues, anticipate future challenges, and provide results that are both pioneering and cost effective. WIKA offers a complete solution, not just a better product. To explore partnership opportunities with WIKA, contact our experts today.