Flowmeters are devices that measure the rate of flow for a variety of liquids or gasses that are transported through pipes. But this description by itself doesn’t provide much of an indication regarding who uses them. The fact is that flowmeters are more prevalent than you may realize, and are an important part of operations in a wide range of industries and business types.
The reason a flowmeter is critical to so many operations involves the exact information it provides. First, it allows a business to see how quickly a fluid is moving through a pipe. This information can help a company determine how efficient an operation is, as well as provide indications of any potential issues in the larger systems.
Second, flowmeters can measure the amount of liquid or gas that is dispensed, such as is the case when a particular gas or liquid is sold as a product. These two functions make flowmeters highly valuable pieces of equipment in many company operations.
To help you understand how common flowmeters are in the world at large, here are some examples of common businesses and industries that use them in their standard operations.
Flowmeters in chemical production can be critical to ensuring a product is made properly. This allows manufacturers to have additional control in highly sensitive conditions, such as the production of pharmaceutical products. Additionally, it provides a mechanism to ensure output is consistent and that ideal manufacturing process is maintained. For example, temperature and pressure sensitive operations can use flowmeters to detect anomalies, that may harm the product or produce a potentially dangerous situation.
Oil and Natural Gas Producers
Oil and natural gas producers rely on flowmeters for a variety of reasons. First, it is critical to measure the volume of materials moving through numerous points in the production process. For example, oil drilling often uses flowmeters to determine the amount of oil that is being received. They can also be used to measure the flow of oil during the production process and can be used to measure output as well as monitor conditions as they occur.
The natural gas industry uses flowmeters for similar reasons, as they are strong indicators of how much material is being obtained, processed, and dispensed. Additionally, it can be used for safety by helping monitor for fluctuations in the system that could indicate a leak or a build up of pressure.
One flowmeter that members of the general public are often exposed to are those designed to measure water usage in residential and commercial properties. The amount a person is charged for the monthly water use is based on readouts from flowmeters.
These flowmeters are able to determine the volume of water used by a particular household or business. This allows the utility company to bill based on precise usage. Often, water is measured by the cubic feet or meters, which is reflected on the actual bill sent to the property owner.
Flowmeters can also indicate if the system has any leaks, since it shows how much water has passed through the meter regardless of its destination. For example, if there is a leak in a pipe beyond the flowmeter, and water is leaking into the ground surrounding the pipe, the flowmeter records this as usage. Often, a serious leak results in significantly higher usage readouts, which will draw attention to the potential issue based on the increase in the monthly bill.
Gasoline is another product that is charged based on the amount dispensed, and gas station pumps use flowmeters to determine what a customer owes for the fuel they acquire. Since gas tanks in vehicles can’t be observed to see the amount dispensed, these fuel meters serve as a method for measuring the amount of fuel that passes through the nozzle.
Similarly, trucks that deliver fuel to gas stations use flowmeters to determine what to charge gas station owners for product received. Just like a gas pump, these trucks have flowmeters that determine how much fuel is passing through the pipe and into the gas station storage tanks.
Other services that use a similar setup include those associated with refueling propane tanks, dispensing oil into a vehicle during an oil change, and even refilling large water bottles at stations located in grocery stores.
The process of distilling also involves flowmeters. They can be used to control the mixture of certain ingredients as well as the use of steam in processes that rely on vapor, such as the vaporized bourbon process. This helps regulate production overall and can help ensure each resulting bottle of the product is created using the same standards.
Further, the rate of flow of the resulting liquids can be monitored, as well as the amount of final product that is dispensed into various containers, such as bottles used in retail sales.
Combustion engines use flowmeters to ensure that certain liquids and gasses are properly dispensed into key areas of the engine. For example, fuel injectors ensure that the right amount of gasoline enters the engine to ensure optimal performance. If one of these flowmeters becomes damaged or clogged, a driver will notice a change in the vehicle’s performance based on the improper mixture of fuel and air.
A Foundation for Operations
Flowmeters are also present in many other industries based on the need to measure liquid and gas flow rates. These devices provide a simple way to monitor important activities, especially when volume or velocity cannot be directly observed.
As you can see, the use of flowmeters is often part of strong foundational operations for many businesses. They can help companies price product sales more accurately by measuring the amount that was dispensed to a customer, while also serving as a way to monitor for issues within the larger system, such as a leaking water pipe. The ability to monitor the flow of materials can also help create safer conditions, as changes in pressure or velocity can be observed for indications of trouble