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Milestone Instrumentation Successfully Focusing on the Core Business

Author / Editor: Sabine Mühlenkamp / Jörg Kempf

While food lovers immediately think of cherry gateau and the regional ham, measurement and control engineers all around the world associate the Black Forest with level and pressure measurement. With close regional ties to its site in Schiltach right in the heart of the Black Forest, Vega has been focusing on these two measuring methods for decades and is regarded an innovation driver in the field. Radar measurement technology in particular has made a major contribution to the success of the company.

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Radar level measurement at 80 GHz has created a sensation in recent years: Here, a Vegapuls 64 performs measurements through the thick glass of a glass container in a distillation plant for natural oils. The readings form the basis for automation of the entire process.
Radar level measurement at 80 GHz has created a sensation in recent years: Here, a Vegapuls 64 performs measurements through the thick glass of a glass container in a distillation plant for natural oils. The readings form the basis for automation of the entire process.
(Source: Peter Märkl / Micado)

It all began in a small workshop in the small, tranquil town of Triberg in the heart of the Black Forest, which was then the center of the booming watchmaking industry. This is where the origins of Vega date back to — the global leader in the measurement of levels, point level detection and pressure measurements. Founded in 1959 by Bruno Grieshaber, the company arrived at its current site in 1975 — via a small detour to Wolfach — and from here it has kept setting new milestones in the history of measurement technology.

To this day, the close association with the region is an important trademark of the company. Now in its third generation as a family-run business, the company has always retained a very down-to-earth approach, concentrating on reliable measurement technology for a wide range of different applications all around the globe — whether on water, in the air or on the ground. For example, many gas and oil tankers, cruise ships or luxury liners rely on the correct readings that are reliably delivered by Vega sensors — regardless of wind and weather.

60 Years Full of exclamation marks in level and pressure measurement
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The “yellow ones” are equally at home at large chemical plants and in the pharmaceutical and food industries, in quarries, on oil platforms, in energy production, in drinking water suppliers, sewage treatment plants, at landfill sites, in mining and on aircraft. A strategy that has really paid off! Since the company was founded, Vega has displayed continuous growth — a fact that is reflected in the relevant numbers. Today, the company employs over 1,650 people around the world, including 730 at the headquarters in Schiltach, and it has 306 active brands to its name. Vega owns around 2,300 patents, with 120 new patents applied for every year.

In contrast to other manufacturers of measuring instruments, Vega focuses on the measurement of levels and pressure. “This has given us the space to concentrate on becoming the technology leader for these measurement techniques,” emphasizes Development Manager Thomas Deck. A key part of this has been the ongoing major investments in correspondingly sized research, development pre-development departments. “Here we can pick up on impulses from the market and check their potential in advance,” explains Deck. The higher frequencies for radar sensors that have caused quite a stir in the process world in recent years were extensively tested for a long time here prior to market launch.

Another example is high-temperature applications for the vibrating level switch Vegaswing, where completely new drive technology was developed for its tuning fork. While the development work is taking place, arrangements are also made at the same time to obtain the necessary approvals. Speaking from his own experience, Deck adds that “this is also part of the development process. It is the only way to accelerate the market launch of a new series of devices.”

Reliable and Safe Pressure Measurements

The business area of pressure measurement encompasses process measurements and differential pressure measurements. Sensors in the Vegabar series are used for measurements of levels, volumes or mass in a wide range of different processes and production environments. Typical places they are used in include process and storage tanks as well as pipes, for example in the paper industry, shipbuilding, the chemical industry and the pharmaceutical industry.

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The advantage of pressure transmitters is that they measure with very high accuracy and are extremely robust. “One of the highlights in the history of our pressure transmitters was no doubt the development of the Certec ceramic pressure measuring cell, which is manufactured in a dedicated cleanroom in Schiltach,” says Deck looking back. In this dust-free environment, they are printed and fired using thick film technology. Certec measuring cells offer a key advantage over other measuring cells featuring a metal membrane — they are more precise and offer significantly higher overload resistance. Particularly in more challenging applications, this second advantage really comes into play.

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