Measuring liquid “fingerprints” in real time

A new radio wave-based analysis technology, developed by the Finnish high-tech company Collo, makes it possible to continuously monitor the state of any liquid in industrial processes, be it thick slurries, resins, adhesives, coatings, emulsion, beer, water or any other fluid.

Collo’s technology is based on an electromagnetic resonator that emits a continuous radio frequency field into the liquid. The signal reacts to interferences caused by different components, chemicals and phases in the liquid. The analyzer immediately warns if the process is disturbed in any way so that the process can be adjusted according to the online data.

“Our sensors can be placed anywhere in the process to optimize for instance the use of raw materials and chemicals in the critical process steps”, says Matti Järveläinen, CEO and founder of Collo. “Our analyzer monitors the process constantly, compared to manual samples that provide a delayed snapshot of the process status at a given time. The advantage of real-time monitoring is that it takes away the guesswork when adjusting the process, which in turn can save a lot of chemicals, materials, energy and time.”

Brewing better beer
Collo Analyzer simultaneously measures eight proprietary parameters from a liquid, which together form the liquid’s fingerprint. If these characteristics are changed during processing, for example if unwanted solids are formed or the chemical balance is negatively impacted, the analyzer shows the changes so that corrective measures can be made immediately.

“For the first time it is now possible to analyze the changes in any desired liquid in real time, using our radio wave technology that penetrates liquids of any dry mass”, Järveläinen says. “A brewery is an example of a typical slurry process, where solids are blended into the liquid followed by several critical steps that each has to be optimized to get an even quality. Now it is possible to measure these critical steps in real time using one single technology.”

Unlike generic measurement techniques, Collo doesn’t just measure the liquids, but combines data with sophisticated analytics, providing actionable information for improved process performance. For optimal result, analytics are adjusted for each liquid application.

“Once adjusted, the same system can be replicated in similar processes”, Järveläinen says. “This is especially beneficial for customers that have a vast number of identical liquid processes, as they are able to achieve significant economies of scale with Collo. The analyzer is very low-maintenance, since the sensor is not sensitive to dirt and does not require cleaning.”

Less scrap and complaints
As Collo’s technology displays real-time measurements, it is possible to continuously adjust the process according to the results.

“The benefit of this continuous quality control is that process deviations are identified immediately when they occur and before they have caused any issues in the process or decreased its performance”, says Mikko Tielinen, Head of Sales. “If the problem is realized too late, it may escalate and become much more expensive to solve.”

For example, resin mixtures in electrical components insulation processes require a correct level of viscosity. If the critical stages can be analyzed online, the process will be steadier, resulting in less scrapped parts or faulty components shipped to customers.

“When using Collo Analyzer you can see when the liquid has the right properties and when adjustments are needed”, Tielinen says. “This means you don’t have to add more raw material than needed or use time and energy to blend the liquid longer than necessary, just because you cannot be sure of the consistence. This way the productivity gets a boost, and the use of energy and materials is decreased, while at the same time less waste is generated, and the final product is much less vulnerable to complaints because of quality issues.”