Ultrasonic level sensors – what are they, and what applications do they have?

Ultrasonic level sensors keep track of fluid levels in places like tank farms
Photo by CC user kenlund on Flickr.

If you are settling into a new job in industry after having graduated from college, or having moved over from another field, you may been asked a question about ultrasonic level sensors from your co-workers, your boss, or a client.

After faking your way through that conversation, you googled it once you got back to your desk, and here you are, reading this article.

In the spirit of helping out a fellow human being, we will explain what this device is, and what it does in the paragraphs that follow below.

What is an ultrasonic level sensor?

An ultrasonic level sensor is a device that is used to keep track of the amount of a liquid in a given space in real-time. Suspended above the liquid, it sends out a pulse of sound between 20 and 200 kHz.

The level of the liquid that the sensor is measuring depends on how it takes for the echo to return to the sensor. Used in environments where in-person human monitoring is too impractical or dangerous, an ultrasonic level sensor is an important tool for engineers in industrial and institutional settings.

Where are they used?

There are many situations where a device like the apg ultrasonic level sensor plays a critical role in the smooth operation of companies and utilities.

1) Tanks

There are countless industrial firms that make use of ultrasonic level sensors keep track of how much fuel/chemicals that they have in their holding tanks.

Sending in an employee to check is impractical, inaccurate and incredibly dangerous. With these sensors in place, operators in charge of certain tanks will know when they need more supply and will be able to put in the order in plenty of time.

2) Cardlock gas stations

In the more remote parts of the world, there are gas stations that operate without employees, as there is a steady, round-the-clock customer base, but an insufficient amount of potential employees living in the area to service them.

To solve this problem, companies have set up cardlock gas stations that will dispense fuel to customers that hold a special card that unlocks the pumps and charges them, all in one swipe.

However, the fact that these operations are unattended leaves them open to fuel theft. Within the tanks at these stations are ultrasonic level sensors that will detect when there is an unauthorized access to its stores. This will set off an alarm, alerting security at the fuel company to the security breach.

3) Over open channels

Certain facilities, such as water treatment plants, will have open channels that transport a liquid from one part of the property to the other.

Ultrasonic level sensors can measure the flow rate of an open channel over time, giving those in charge of the facility the information they need to manage its operations effectively.