Load cell basics: load cells for silos, tanks and hoppers

Published On: February 22 2018


From the towering grain silos of the American plains to shiny stainless steel hoppers in food processing plants, we are all very familiar with the concept of storage of free-flowing bulk solids, liquids and gases.

Using large numbers of tanks, hoppers or silos is very common in the food and drinks industry for storage and dispensing of a whole range of food ingredients, from grain and flour to oils and fruit juices.

Taking stock with load cells

Load cells ensure that accurate measurements can be taken when loading, unloading or storing liquids or solid items in most commercial silos, tanks and hoppers.

The principle is the same whether your hopper or tank is freestanding, set on its side, set into the floor or suspended. The load cells ensure accurate weighing of the contents, allowing for accurate dispensing of the contents, and reliable inventory readings.


Load cell systems for silos, tanks and hoppers

The most common arrangement is to simply sit the hopper, tank or silo supports on top of three or four load cells, usually placed un the tank’s legs. By placing them away from the main body of the tank, they remain unaffected by any activity or temperature changes in the tank due to processes such as fermentation or freezing.

The load cells effectively act as a set of highly accurate scales, so as contents are added or removed, (or developed) the weight changes. Suspended hoppers and tanks are weighed by the force exerted on the suspension cables or fixing, with much the same effect.

Using wireless compression load cell systems, you can constantly monitor and track these variations by relaying data from the wireless system to your own IT systems. The process is no more complex that those Bluetooth bathroom scales that relay your weight to your mobile phone – and far more accurate!


Safety first

Wireless systems are ideal for hoppers, tanks and silos simply because there is no requirement for staff to get anywhere near the storage facility to take readings. All data can be relayed wirelessly, reducing the need for staff to be present in what can be a hazardous and in some cases, combustible environment.


Keeping load cells calibrated

Load cells often work seamlessly for years, but over time, their accuracy may degrade. Recalibrating your load cells ensures they are providing accurate measurements. Load cells can either be recalibrated in place by using a known weight of content, or by removal and recalibrating offsite.


Replacing your load cells

If your hopper’s load cells are reaching the end of their life, or have been damaged in any way, call us. We can supply a wide range of S-beam and other load cells specifically designed for the conditions in your storage facility.

Since we design and manufacture our own load cells here in the UK, we can also create any bespoke system you might require for your particular industry or requirements.