A flow computer is a specialized type of computer that uses complex calculations to interpret the data from flow meters and to calculate and record the volume of a particular flowing substance at a particular point in time. Flow computers can be used for gases or liquids and are in demand across various industries. For most accurate and consistent results, flow computers should possess sophisticated programming, a user-friendly interface and damage-resistant hardware components.
Flow computers are programmed with the necessary algorithms and equations needed to accurately interpret the data from flow meters and other flow measuring devices. Many manufacturers make flow computers that can be connected to a variety of devices including liquid provers, gas chromatographs, distributed control systems and more. The first task of the flow computer is to record the continuous stream of data provided by the flow meter.
Analysis and Processing
The second task is to continuously analyze the data received and use it to transmit a report of the current attributed of the measurable fluid or gas at fixed points in time. Users can configure their computers to create records at particular times or for specific intervals. For example, a flow computer can create a record of the volume of flow every hour, on the first of the month, or on a batch basis. Flow computers can be extremely accurate, but only with proper maintenance and calibration.
The more sophisticated a flow computer is, the more capable it is of processing increasingly incremental data points and the more input sources it can handle. Some flow computers can simultaneously process running data from several meters.
In addition to generating data on flow volume, the flow computer can analyze additional data points inputted by measuring devices, such as temperature, speed of flow, pressure, mass, gas density and chemical state. As the flow computer does not actually gather this data but only processes it, the availability of data points will depend on the type of flow meter or other measuring device that is connected to the computer.
The flow computer is an important tool for tracking or discovering any changes that can affect measurements. Changes in flow rate, density, temperature or composition can be normal or signs of a problem that needs to be fixed. A sensitive and high-capacity flow computer can present an accurate picture of data fluctuations. Data from the flow computer can also indicate whether there is a malfunction in the flow meter or its transmitter.
Data Networking and Transmission
Most flow computers today are wireless-capable and can be networked to other systems within the plant that need to use its data. Flow computers can be set up to transmit their records to pipeline controls, auditing and accounting departments.
Today’s flow computers are designed to be user-friendly as well as powerful and versatile. Many come with an easy-to-understand menu that allows users to implement the settings they need.
Flow computers are widely used in industries that are built on transporting large amounts of liquids or gases. In particular, the gas and oil industry, as well as petrochemical manufacturers, use flow computers to obtain precise measurements of the products that flow through their pipelines. Flow computers analyze data and generate reports for products such as crude oil, refined oil, natural gas, ethylene, nitrogen and other products. Operators also utilize flow computers to track natural disasters and potential damage they could cause.