Ultrasonic Level Sensor Systems

Welcome to Coltraco Ultrasonics’ continuous monitoring systems.  

We pride ourselves in our UK made, high-quality, reliable, and accurate systems designed to continuously monitor critical fire suppression systems, such as Inert gases, CO2, FM-200™ and NOVEC™ 1230, providing 24/7 protection and peace of mind.   

We have been developing systems and instrumentation technology for over 30 years and are proud leaders in this field. 

Why choose Coltraco Ultrasonics’ range of Ultrasonic Liquid Level Indicators? 

Better: Using continuous monitoring technology to check the contents of your fire suppression cylinders is non-invasive, non-destructive and non-disruptive meaning it is safer for personal and does not require the user to shut down the fire suppression system during inspection. Constant monitoring systems offer round the clock peace of mind knowing your systems are fully operational and accurately monitored during and between maintenance periods.  

Faster: Continuous contents monitoring means that testing is taking place when the fire suppression cylinders are in-situ and operational without user involvement. These systems alert the user when a leak is occurring before the contents have depleted beyond the operational capacity, allowing you to schedule maintenance reducing unplanned shut down periods.  

Cheaper: Enabling inspection to take place without disruption your cylinder installation means no shut-down, saving time and no requirement for multiple operators, saving labour costs. We have a large range of constant level and weight monitoring technology allowing us to be competitive with pricing and Coltraco Ultrasonics have a “Price Promise” to be the most competitive on the market.  

Constant Monitoring  

A continuous monitoring system is capable of detecting when a fire suppression cylinder has leaked, or is leaking, before the design capacity has been compromised or a catastrophic discharge event occurs. Constant monitoring forms a vital part of a fire safety plan in any installation. Cylinder agent leakage can cause an entire fire suppression system to malfunction, and if undetected could result in an ineffective release of agent that may fail to extinguish a fire. A catastrophic leakage event that dispels entire contents of a cylinder is immediately apparent; however, slow leakage over time is very hard to detect. Slow leakage resulting in a 10% decrease in CO2 agent mass requires complete replacement of the system and 5% if using clean agents or Inert gas systems. Therefore, it is imperative to be aware of slow leakage to allow maintenance to take place before a failure occurs.  

Therefore, constant monitoring falls within the preventive, or proactive maintenance category, because it provides the ability to plan and schedule maintenance or replacement of faulty systems before they become unsafe or incapable of operating effectively. The definition of an “effective” system is determined by regulatory standards which dictate what condition, or under what circumstances a system is in a safe condition. Regulations are in place to guide industry to follow protocols that save lives. At Coltraco, we provide safety equipment for safety’s sake and our technology is guided by the industry standards and by regulations to keep people and assets safe. Our constant monitoring systems work on multiple agent types and therefore, is required to meet different regulations depending on which agent is being monitored.  

Regulations state that a leakage greater than 5% for clean agents and Inergen blends, and 10% for CO2 requires cylinder refilling or replacement. Therefore, all of our monitoring systems allow the user to configure the equipment to trigger at either 5% or 10% threshold depending on which agent is being monitored. If the agent leaks past the pre-selected threshold, the unit, if connected to an external alarm will alert the user that there has been a critical leak in the fire suppression system.  

Going beyond standard compliance 

Coltraco Ultrasonics provides continuous monitoring to the liquefied and non-liquified gaseous extinguishing systems used in all sectors, going above and beyond existing standards. Most of the fire protection measures stated in regulatory standards state that systems should be regularly inspected, maintained, and tested. Some of these areas are: 

passive fire-rated compartment barriers and structural components of buildings,

including the seals of barrier penetrations, supply and distribution pipes, 

liquefied and non-liquified gaseous fire suppression extinguishing systems including dry powder systems. 

High-Pressure cylinders are, in general, more susceptible to leakage than low-pressure systems. Increasing the design pressure of a cylinder or an increase due to a temperature rise will increase the chance of leakage; typically, through one of the weak points – such as the valves and pressure gauges. Therefore, it is vital that high-pressure cylinders are monitored for contents loss, and it is reasonable to suggest that as the pressure increases, so does the importance of monitoring them continuously.  

This is why the major fire OEMs are themselves constantly monitoring their own gaseous systems, whether with float gauges or valves that monitor the pressure. But neither of these methods can be retrofitted, and they still require external means to ensure that they are working. This is why Coltraco Ultrasonics’ design accurate and reliable constant monitoring systems. These systems combine the ease of retrofitting into already installed fire suppression cylinder systems with the highest accuracy of constant monitoring, capable of detecting incremental and major contents loss of both liquefied and non-liquefied systems. 

Accidental shock discharge, resulting in far more than the regulated threshold of 5% or 10% loss of agent mass and the resulting pressure loss can be missed for long periods between planned maintenance checks. The ISO regulations only require pressure to be tested once every six months. A fast leak, or indeed a slower leak occurring shortly after a scheduled maintenance check, could lead to an unsafe environment, where any fire would almost certainly fail to be extinguished if the design capacity of the cylinders in compromised due to a leak. This could potentially go unaddressed for months. 

Continuously monitoring agent mass 

Monitoring agent mass is the most fundamental way of assessing contents loss. Mass, like pressure, is a direct measure of the quantity of a fixed volume of gas, however, mass is a superior metric as it cannot be affected by external factors, like temperature; a cylinder system’s mass will only decrease if there is a loss of the agent from the cylinder. 

The mass of agent is entirely independent of temperature. A change in mass will always correspond to a change in the cylinder contents. This is not the case for pressure, as the internal pressure of a cylinder depends on its temperature. Pressure values must, therefore, take temperature into account, adding another potential source of error. In addition, service personnel often fail to take temperature into account at all. 

Typical pressure gauges more commonly seen on fire suppression cylinders can be unreliable; they also are limited in their accuracy as they use an analogue scale. For a 20 MPa (200 bar) cylinder, the typical accuracy of gauges is limited to 2.5% of the fill pressure. The potential for human error compounds this in reading any analogue scale; two people reading the same analogue scale could report slightly different values. In contrast, a digital scale, as used with the Permalevel® Featherweight will give the numerical value of agent weight as accurately and precisely as it is capable of doing.

This accuracy can be achieved for all fire suppression agents including high-pressure Inergen/inert gas systems. Inergen is one of the most common inert gas fire extinguishing agents, and itself comes in three common blends, IG541, IG-55 and IG-01. The vast majority of Inergen systems use one of eight types of cylinders. <1% accuracy can be achieved for all Inergen blends in any of the standard cylinders, (in many cases, even <0.5%) by using digital monitoring of weight.  

Continuously monitoring liquid level 

By continuously monitoring the liquid level inside fire suppression cylinders using ultrasound technology, a user can be alerted if the level decreases beyond the regulatory threshold for the type of fire suppression agent being monitored. Coltraco Ultrasonics design instrumentation and systems that operate 24/7 providing peace of mind that safety critical fire suppression systems are operational and contain the required design capacity needed to effectively extinguish a fire if required.  

All of Coltraco Ultrasonics’ technology is non-invasive, and the liquid level monitoring systems are the least disruptive being able to monitor the contents externally using magnetically mounted sensors. Continuous liquid level monitoring is a simple, yet effective way to get 24/7 accurate and reliable information about the condition of safety critical fire suppression systems.  

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