When you are evaluating available flowmeters for use in business operations, the level of accuracy is critical. However, choosing the right solution isn’t simple. Depending on the fluids or gasses involved, accuracy levels can change. That means it is critical to select the ideal flowmeters for your specific needs.
For example, flowmeters are used in the following industries:
Each industry has different requirements for their flowmeters based on the fluids or gasses being measured as well as the conditions surrounding their operation.
Different flowmeters have advantages and disadvantages that must be considered before making a final selection. The first key to deciding how to proceed is to have a thorough understanding regarding how flowmeters are used in business operations today.
Types of Flowmeters
There are numerous types of flowmeters on the market today, each of which is designed to be used in specific situations. Beyond the primary types, there is a range of subtypes that can also be involved. For example, one category of flowmeter is velocity flowmeters. However, how the velocity is measured can vary based on the flowmeters construction.
Some of the more common flowmeter categories include:
- Mass Flowmeters
- Open Channel Flowmeters
- Positive Displacement Flowmeters
- Turbine Flowmeters
- Variable Flowmeters
- Velocity Flowmeters
Along with serving different functions, each flowmeter has different maintenance requirements and calibration needs. Failing to properly calibrate flowmeters means that any reading provided can be inaccurate.
Flowmeters provide a critical function in areas like turbine operation. They help measure the velocity of fluids through a turbine, specifically the measurements of liquids, gasses, and vapors, like steam. Often, flowmeters are connected to flow computers that are designed to adjust the flow of materials to reach an optimal state.
Additionally, inaccuracy can ultimately result in financial losses to a business, such as by providing too much product to a customer based on a false low reading or shortchanging customers when dealing with a wrongly high measurement. In either state, a company can lose business by providing more product than was paid for or in lost business once it is discovered customers aren’t receiving the amount of product due.
Choosing the right flowmeter to ensure an appropriate level of accuracy for the task at hand is essential. To help you consider which options suit your needs, here are some key points to review before implementing a solution.
The more moving parts involved in a flowmeters construction, the higher the maintenance requirements. Any internal part that moves, or provides a stable point on which the part moves, is susceptible to wear. Over time, increased wear changes the efficiency of the flowmeter, and can ultimately lead to inaccurate readings regarding the rate of flow as well as flowmeter failure.
Choosing a solution with few, if any, moving parts can help lower the risk of inaccuracies due to damaged parts. It also limits the amount of regular maintenance required. However, solutions of this type may require a higher upfront investment, though savings over the long-term may be realized depending on other factors relating to the business operation.
Certain flowmeters will operate better under specific conditions, some of which include the size of the pipe involved in the measurement. For example, ultrasonic flowmeters may provide an advantage over other formats when installing in over six inches. However, smaller pipes may experience a high level of accuracy with positive-displacement meters.
Certain fluids require different flowmeters when accuracy is a concerned. Magnetic flowmeters may be suitable for a lot of applications but are not ideal for oil and gas flow measurement. Any fluid that contains materials that are magnetic in nature will result in less accurate results when measured with magnetic flowmeters. This is because the magnetic force used in the meter interacts directly with the magnetic materials contained in the fluids.
Additionally, accuracy issues arise when measuring the flow of a non-lubricating fluid in a system that does not include sufficient lubrication in its design. Over time, failing to lubricate moving parts sufficiently leads to increase wear and may even lead to changes in built up heat based on the increased level of friction. And heat changes in the flowmeter can affect the temperature of the fluids with which they made contact, such as changes in the viscosity. In cases where the flowmeter is designed to measure the flow of natural gas, increased temperatures can be damaging to the flowmeter as well.
Just as magnetic flowmeters are not ideal for oil and gas flow measurements, ultrasonic flowmeters are not designed to be used in areas with high levels of certain noise. Ultrasonic flowmeters involve the use of sound waves to measure flow, so sounds within a certain frequency, even outside of the range of human hearing, can disrupt the accuracy of the measurement.
Thermal flowmeters are also not ideal in certain situations. The use of hot-wire anemometers makes them more susceptible to break as well as the effects of dirt. With that in mind, that means using them for many industrial applications will lead to higher maintenance costs.
The temperature of the fluid being measured can also dictate whether one flowmeter should be used over another. For example, a vortex flowmeter is designed to tolerate incredibly high temperatures. This means it is a strong choice for the measurement of steam. They also work for gas and liquids that flow at higher temperatures.
Do Your Research
As you can see, choosing a flowmeter to obtain the highest level of accuracy takes some research. Different flowmeters are ideal in different situations. Additionally, maintenance and calibration needs also need to be met to ensure long-lasting accuracy over time.
Ultimately, there is no perfect flowmeter for all situations, so it is better to look into all of the factors involved before choosing an optimal solution for your business.