The flow meter industry is a diverse and multi-faceted enterprise that has applications across many different types of businesses and areas of work.
With new flow meter technology showing faster growth signs than traditional market devices, it is clear that businesses are still looking for improved solutions that will perform complicated tasks with ease and reliability as well as deliver financial savings for the company.
We take a look below at some areas of product design in flow meter technology that have provided new and improved solutions for the monitor and control of flow rates.
One of the major areas of development in flow meter technology as a whole is the role of computer processing. With cheaper memory and higher processing speeds now available, the era of big data is upon us and this is being used to perform increasingly complex operations.
The software structures behind measurement applications allow for the more precise measurement of fluid dynamics. It’s also possible to measure a greater range of fluids due to customizable parameters, which allows engineers to modify the equipment accordingly.
Another area of flow meter development that has been enhanced with software technology is in the interfaces provided to operate the equipment. There is now a host of different applications that need flow rates calculated and this often complicated area of physics can produce reams of data. Through improved design, modern equipment allows non-technical users to instantly understand what is occurring within the process and this has made significant improvements to both control and safety within work environments.
Some of the best developments in technology are those that provide a solution to fundamental problems which plague an operation. One such problem that needs to be addressed in almost every industry is that of maintaining cleanliness. It is of little surprise that one of the major recent developments, automated cleaning in flow meters detection equipment, has been derived from an industry especially troubled by this problem.
Monitoring wastewater and sewage is an important task but also a job that causes a hazard to both the engineers and equipment alike due to the very nature of the process. Advances in effluent metering technology have provided new products that are not only more robust to their environment, but also capable of operating without causing a build-up or blockage in the system.
Another direction of development has seen products created with the ability to self-clean and maintain an effective level of operation. Without the need for constant attention from technicians, these designs save money both from the reduced engineer costs and also in the maintenance costs. This owes to the fact that the machine parts do not suffer as much wear and tear and so require less part replacement during the life-cycle of the equipment through this increased durability.
New Supporting Equipment
Not only have the flow meters recently received upgrades and new features but also the equipment that supports these devices have been further developed. One such advancement has occurred in the verification tools that are used to maintain system accuracy and advise on any calibration needs.
Of the many developments to verification tools from different manufacturers, common features which have been integrated into modern designs have included the following user benefits:
- Increasingly lightweight models
- Easier to operate
- Additional report and analysis options
- Wireless communication
- Variable parameters to allow customization
While new tools have entered the market providing engineers with higher confidence levels on flow meter accuracy reports, another method has also been developed and launched onto the market.
All-in-one products provide an automated service which negates the need for a trained engineer to carry out the task and without causing disruption to the fluid dynamics that are being measured. With some industries requiring regular verification to ensure a high accuracy is maintained, in-situ verification can also provide engineers with an option to remotely verify the process, all of which results in lower costs for the business with the same provision for accuracy.
While most advancements are usually an extension of a previously existing technology, every so often there is a leap forward in a new direction and SAW technology could well be one example of this. Surface Acoustic Wave is exactly as it describes, a sound wave which travels across the surface of a material. Measurements can be made on the deterioration rate of this sound wave to determine the depth of the liquid as these two factors are directly proportional to each other.
Because the technology relies upon the fluid in motion carrying the sound wave pulses that it measures, this flow meter technology can only be used with liquid fluids and not gasses. Additionally, the fluid must be of a known quality and composition because the properties of the material affect the deterioration rate and hence the accuracy of the measurements.
This new design has some major advantages compared to traditional flow measurement devices such as the lack of parts inside the measuring tube. This means that there is no pressure drop created on the fluid, there’s no need for maintenance and calibration of the equipment and it’s easy to install.
The Next Step
With this flow meter technology now available on the market, it currently offers a high level of accuracy and applications in most environments including high pressure, high temperature and even surroundings that are affected by sound pollution and vibrations. This is because unlike ultrasonic flow meters, the measurements are made on a particular pulse wave which effectively has its own fingerprint that the equipment can detect and recognize.
There are, however, plans to continue developing this flow meter technology to increase the range of uses it is suitable for even further and to refine the designs currently available. By fitting additional sensors which can measure the density and content of the liquid, the equipment will be more flexible in what it can measure and it will also be able to calculate mass flow measurements besides flow rate.
Although the technology lends itself perfectly to hygienic applications, current designs on the market are not yet suitable for such purposes. This is due to the wide range of uses that the technology does have and as such it has only been possible to launch it onto the market in stages, the next of which will be aimed at the food industry and this will be a feature of some of the models due for release very soon.