Reliable radar for solid mining measurements

The VEGAPULS 69 from Vega

The VEGAPULS 69 can detect bulk solids up to 120 metres away.

For continuous measurement solutions suited to applications across industries, Vega has spent 20 years developing its radar technology. Managing director John Leadbetter explains exactly how Vega’s products have become best-in-class.

The ‘family-owned’ value is one made popular by businesses the world over for good reason. It speaks to reliability, a supportive nature, and a breadth of knowledge developed through generations. 

At Vega, these traits are held to the highest standard, in order for the third-generation business to survive and thrive in the modern world. 

John Leadbetter has worked with Vega for 24 years – more than two thirds of the time that the company has been involved with the Australian mining industry – and has used various roles to understand what makes an effective product. 

When it comes to measurement sensors and radar technology, Leadbetter says it’s Vega’s main directive to be an industry leader, supplying some of mining’s biggest names with reliable measurement equipment.

“We’ve shown through the years in the sort of applications you would input these devices, this is the best-in-class,” Leadbetter tells Australian Mining. 

“There’s always competition, but the one thing Vega has looked at is staying one step ahead. A tremendous amount of resources, time and money are put into research and development. 

“So, we’re always developing the next generation, which comes from feedback from customers and Vega subsidiaries.”

The VEGAPULS 69 is one example of Vega’s industry leading offering. The 80 gigahertz radar sensor specialises in detecting and measuring bulk solids up to 120 metres away, regardless of dust or vapour in the environment. This allows the sensor to be used across a broad range of industries for materials handling, but especially in mining.

Leadbetter says the rise of radar technology has been unbelievable over his tenure at Vega. Back in 1991, the company’s first radar products weighed up to 62 kilograms. Now, the VEGAPULS 69 weighs three kilograms, and can be powered by a 12-volt battery, or solar panels. It’s on such developments that Vega prides itself.

“You’ve got to keep up with technologies,” Leadbetter says. “All staff consistently go through upgrades in knowledge because if you don’t understand the products that you’re selling, you’re doing the customer a disservice.

“Vega is proud of a number of things: its German quality – it’s the best available – and the quality of the people employed at Vega. 

“Vega is here for the long term, so we’re all about customer satisfaction and we take any feedback, positive or negative, because that’s how you improve.”

Leadbetter emphasises how important customer feedback is in ensuring Vega’s products are up to scratch. So much so that equipment like their VEGAPULS 69 undergoes a sort of free trial in a real mining environment before being made publicly available.

“Radar is our number one product, there’s a tremendous amount of knowledge, experience and development and we work hand in hand with the marketplace,” Leadbetter says. 

“For the next generation, we will release beta-units to the market and put them through a real-life situation, not a laboratory situation. We want to make sure our gear works for the customer, not for a testing house.”

The VEGAPULS 69 is both wear and maintenance free, due to its non-contact nature. But Leadbetter still says his favourite thing about the sensor is its versatility.

“The most impressive thing about the 69 is it’s a radar that you can confidently apply to multiple industry groups and say, ‘I have the solution for that’,” Leadbetter says.

“It’s multipurpose, from grain measurement, to vehicle sensing, or anti-collision technology, the VEGAPULS 69 is an advisory device with a multitude of functions.”

In the age of wireless storage and communication, the VEGAPULS 69 comes with optional extras for remote control and monitoring.  

“One of the latest developments we introduced to make customers’ lives easier was to implement Bluetooth communication,” Leadbetter explains.

“The customer can now choose to communicate with the devices in the field through a smart phone or tablet to avoid connecting wires or being put in dangerous situations.”

If Vega can be trusted by the Bureau of Meteorology to detect nationwide tsunami warnings (and it is), then it may just be good enough for the best in the mining business. 

Vega presents second-to-none radar sensor technology, because in a country where mining keeps the lights on, no one can afford a mismeasurement.   


This article appeared in the June edition of Australian Mining.

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