Industrial Applications of Ultrasonic Liquid Level Indicator

IBCs in pharmacy:


From a British pharmaceutical company, one of the largest in the world: We received a request from one of their pharmaceutical manufacturing plants in Ireland, the plant produces active ingredients that are used in drugs used to treat cancer, Parkinsons and Depression.


We received a request to deliver a means to non-invasively monitor the contents within IBC’s (Intermediate Bulk Container). The ammonia is used to breakdown manufacturing by-products before they are then safely incinerated. An ammonia/water mix is delivered onto the site in IBC’s (Intermediate Bulk Containers). This current method of monitoring the contents within these IBC’s involved physical dipstick-measurements on the tank to monitor usage and replacement. This methodology stemmed from a lack of confidence in the internal IBC monitoring system. However, the fumes given off by the ammonia creates a health risk for engineers. Opening the top valve also creates risk of contamination to the ammonia. They therefore require a non-invasive method.


A Coltraco Engineer visited the site to conduct technology suitability trials. We surveyed several of the IBCs (intermediate bulk containers) some were partially full and some were fully empty - after adjustments we determined general range for a full and empty state across 7 of the IBC’s.
Trial indicated real potential for us to deliver a solution for this application. Our present technology indicates that we have the capabilities to deliver a lasting solution to this challenge. So ultrasonic liquid level indicator is a perfect choice for this purpose.


Once we had proven that our current technology was suitable for the intended application, it was requested that the solution should be:

  • Non-Invasive and ultrasonic
  • Application Specific Calibration – 0=LIQUID 100+=AIR (unparalleled ease of use)
  • Intrinsically safe
  • Robust enough for daily use

Over the next 4 weeks we:

Developed a turnkey solution offering unparalleled accuracy, ease of use and clarity of indication on an Intrinsically Safe Platform specifically designed for an application in which a non-invasive solution didn’t previously exist. The Unit requires no input from the operator apart from the application of the sensor to the vessel wall. It is the easiest to use, and most accurate liquid level indicator in the world in spite of being intrinsically safe.


The deliver of the solution allows the operators of the plant to safely, quickly and accurately monitor the contents within the ammonia vessels, which are integral to the operation of the plant as a whole. The Unit will also reduce the amount of partially empty ammonia cylinders returned before emptying, saving the organisation money over time.

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