Product Research: Flowmeters, users buy more; new technologies

Large amounts of liquid, gas, or slurry feedstocks often require special handling and accurate measurement, a job for modern flowmeter technology. Control Engineering's recent online survey shows an increase in spending on these products, as 24% of respondents plan to increase spending on flowmeters over the next 12 months. See graphics on this research and more product photos.


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8 additional products not shown in print edition; more research results

In the novel about depression-era circus life, “Water for Elephants,” Jacob Jankowski—now a man is his late 80s—confronts a fellow nursing home resident over his claim that he carried water for elephants when briefly working for a circus as a youth. “Listen pal,” Jankowski says, “for decades I’ve heard old coots like you talk about carrying water for elephants and I am telling you now, it never happened. Do you have any idea how much an elephant drinks?” Jacob Jankowski knows of what he speaks. And as control engineers know, industrial applications involving the delivery and measurement of fluids rarely use the “bucketful” method. Large amounts of liquid, gas, or slurry feedstocks—often expensive, aggressive, or volatile—require special handling and accurate measurement, a job for modern flowmeter technology.
[ Graphics with flowmeter research results, new flowmeter products, photos follow .]

In the latest online survey conducted by Control Engineering and Reed Research, 276 respondents put modern flowmeter technology in the research spotlight—one that illuminated both technology preferences and purchasing trends. Of those technical professionals involved in specifying, recommending, and/or buying flowmeters, the majority (73%) used them for in-plant requirements. OEM or resale requirements accounted for a scant 16% of flowmeters purchased. As for primary applications, usage was split between continuous processing, batch processing, and utility services, with continuous processing getting the most responses, 53%. Batch processing saw 24% of the total usage, with utilities tallying 14%. (See accompanying graphic.)

When compared to 2007 results, the breakdown on primary applications is very similar. There was, however, a decrease (down from 21% to 16%) in OEM applications from the previous year, which might be attributable to a slowdown in the manufacturing sector. There is no letup in demand when compared to previous surveys, however. Purchasing increases are planned by 24% of the respondents over the next 12 months; 56% plan to purchase at the same rate as last year.


Technologies make a difference

The trend toward the so-called “new technology” flowmeters has gained momentum since the turn of the millennium. Driven by their improved accuracy, repeatability, economy, ease of use/calibration, and adaptability to digital communication, they have now risen to a position of prominence in the survey. The technologies heading this year’s list (see accompanying chart) include magnetic, mass, orifice, Coriolis, and ultrasonic. Of these, only the tried and true orifice flowmeter can be considered traditional technology. In the 2005 survey, the top five were magnetic, orifice, mass, turbine, and Coriolis. The following years saw turbine, magnetic, orifice, mass flow, and ultrasonic claiming the top five spots.

With turbine flowmeters off the “hot” list, new technology flowmeters have clearly taken over the specification race. But why has the orifice flowmeter hung on so tenaciously? Lean maintenance staffs and lack of capital spending in a tight economy has prevented many plants from replacing them, or is leading them to do so very slowly as new technologies become advantageous.

According to George Holod, process control engineer for Tesoro Inc., 95% of his plant’s flowmeters are orifice plates. “Currently, replacing older style meters with smart digital meters is the main reason for purchases. For certain applications, other factors are more important, such as wireless communication for tank farm applications, strap-on ultrasonic on places where we do not wish to penetrate pipe, etc. But these add up to less than 5% of total meters purchased,” he adds.

Flowmeter specification is a difficult process. Although verbatim comments that accompanied many survey responses listed a wide variety of factors for making a purchasing decision, the most frequent verbatim response was: accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. Actual polling provided a slightly different result, however, with accuracy in second place. Factors listed as very important when deciding on a flowmeter supplier were (in order):

  • Improved reliability;

  • Improved accuracy;

  • Ease of calibration;

  • Low lifecycle cost;

  • On-line configuration, troubleshooting capability;

  • Digital communication capability;

  • Low capital cost;

  • No calibration requirement;

  • Wide turndown range;

  • Noninvasive measurement capability;

  • Custody transfer accuracy and recording capability;

  • Relaxed installation and reduced process penetration requirements; and,

  • Strap-on portability.

Although performance requirements such as accuracy, digital communication ability, and wide turndown range figure prominently on the list, many other factors such as reliability, ease of calibration, low lifecycle cost, on-line configuration and troubleshooting, low capital cost, etc., all point to lean manufacturing and shrinking engineering/maintenance staffs.

All of these factors figure into the specification process in one way or another. According to Romel Bhullar, technical director for Fluor Corporation, “You do not buy just a flowmeter; it is only one component in the scheme of things. You have to look at it as an integrated part of the overall control system and how it affects your bottom line, starting from the initial capital cost, maintenance, calibration and loss of product or quality during the life cycle time frame. The era of single loop controls is gone with the competitive environment we compete in.”

Representative products

Full results of Control Engineering ’s 2008 Product Research on flowmeters can be found online in the Process Control section of the Resource Center, accessible via / . Survey respondents, using a list provided identified the following vendors as leading suppliers of flowmeters. Visit company Websites for more.

Read this article online at under August 2008 for more products, including:

Insertion magnetic flowmeter

Omega Engineering Inc.

Vortex flowmeter

Yokogawa Corp. of America

Flowmeter targets chemical/process industries

Siemens Energy & Automation, Process Instrumentation Group

High adaptability vortex meter

Krohne Inc.

Stable accuracy at high temps, velocities

GE, Sensing & Inspection Technologies

In-situ calibration system eliminates de-install/re-install

Fluid Components International Inc.

Metal magmeter configuration expands range, versatility

GF Piping Systems

Expanded range, wider turndown in rugged package

McCrometer Inc.

Wireless flowmeters leverage HART protocol

instrumentation, process sensors
Rosemount 3051S wireless flowmeters, part of Emerson’s Smart Wireless solutions, are said to provide a cost-effective means to add new flow measurements in the plant. These new solutions leverage the HART protocol. Smart Wireless self-organizing wireless networks allow seamless and secure integration of data into existing information systems. The flow data can be gathered via standard Web interface or integrated directly into existing host systems. The technology is very robust, delivering greater than 99% data reliability with unprecedented ease of use. Wireless communication is automatically set up by the network manager residing in the Smart Wireless Gateway and requires no additional user intervention or special tools. Rosemount Wireless Flowmeter solutions include compact, integral orifice, conditioning orifice and Annubar flowmeters. Users can deploy all of these wireless devices using almost the exact same practices in use today at a fraction of the cost compared to wired solutions.

Emerson Process Management

High performance at exceptionally high flow rates

The Micro Motion Elite Coriolis flowmeter is intended to address the demands of fiscal custody transfer applications, and is the largest Elite Coriolis device for challenging, high-flow measurement. This meter delivers what is said to be unmatched performance and reliability to measurement applications typically requiring 8-in. (DIN200) or 10-in. (DIN250) process connections. It can handle a maximum liquid flow capacity of 94,000 lb/min (2,550 metric tons/hr), maximum gas flow capacity of 192,000 scfm of natural gas, and standard pressure ratings to 1,450 psi (100 bar). This new Coriolis meter has been tested with crude oil and other liquid and gas hydrocarbons in accordance with American Petroleum Institute and American Gas Association procedures. In addition, Micro Motion is pursuing approval based on the European Measuring Instrument Directive 2004/22/EC (MID) for gas meters (Annex MI-002) and liquids other than water (Annex MI-005) by the internationally respected Dutch metrology institute NMi.

Micro Motion Inc.

Portable flow measurement

The Prosonic Flow 92TA1 is a temporary-use flowmeter that uses removable clamp-on sensors and a battery-operated portable transmitter to take liquid flow measurements. The device features a built-in datalogger with a capacity of 40,000 values. Setup features operating menus for commissioning of up to 20 measurement sites. The sensors, which are fixed to the piping from the outside, cover a wide range of nominal diameters. The Prosonic Flow’s U Series sensors cover DN 15 to 100 and the W Series sensors cover DN50 to 4,000. The transmitter is a handheld unit rated IP 50. The 92TA1 is intended for water/wastewater applications, and more. It is suitable for use in steel, plastic, GRP, and glass pipes, as well as lined pipes.


Integrated temp compensation

The VersaFlow Vortex 100 is said to be the only vortex flow meter with integrated pressure and temperature compensation in two-wire technology. It provides reliable measurement of standard volumetric and mass flow of both conductive and non-conductive liquids, gases, and vapors, even with fluctuating pressures and temperatures. These rugged instruments feature a robust and reliable design, are quick to install and easy to operate, and are chemically resistant to a range of process fluids. Hazardous area versions are available. Available in 0.5- to 12-in. flange sizes and 0.5- to 4-in. sandwich sizes, they feature integral temperature compensation, integral pressure compensation, compensation for saturated steam, and two-wire technology. Typical applications include vapor and saturated steam measurement, steam boiler monitoring, compressor output monitoring, measurement of industrial compressed gases, and measurement of conductive and non-conductive liquids.

Honeywell Process Solutions

High-performance ac magmeters

instrumentation, process sensors
The FSM4000 ac electromagnetic flowmeters (magmeters) are said to provide high performance and quick response in the face tough operating conditions. This competitively priced flowmeter especially suits applications in the pulp and paper, metals, food and beverage, and mining industries that are characterized by high solids content, low conductivity, and pulsating flows, as well as slurry, paste, sludge, and two-phase fluid conditions. Operating advantages of the FSM4000 magmeter include simple and fast start-up, using simple, menu-driven configuration routines; the latest in self-diagnostics to lower operating and maintenance costs; backward compatible with existing ABB magmeter sensors to minimize parts stocking, and is suitable as a universal, high-performance magmeter system for use on all magmeter applications, further reducing parts stocking and maintenance. The FSM4000 incorporates many advances in both its primary sensor that installs in a process pipeline and its digital converter (transmitter) that may be located up to 300 ft away. Primary sensors come with all-stainless steel construction and a variety of pipe connection types. Diameters range from 1/25 to 40 in. Liners offered include PFA, PTFE, or hard rubber.

ONLINE extra
Additional products not shown in print edition follow.

The full 2008 flowmeter research report is available in the Resource Center (log in required).

Also read 2007 Product Research: Using Flowmeters.

Insertion magnetic flowmeter

instrumentation, process sensors
The FMG900 Series insertion magnetic flowmeter is available in brass or stainless steel, the electrode tip is made up of PVDF material and the housing is cast powder-coated aluminum—all of these features combined allow the product to be durable enough to withstand a variety of temperature, pressure, and chemical conditions. The product has no moving parts, which allows particulate to easily pass by. A rapidly reversing magnetic field is produced in the lower housing. As the fluid moves through this field, a voltage is generated that is measured and translated into a frequency signal proportional to flow rate. This square wave signal can be sent directly to a PLC. Reverse flow output, analog output and immersion models are optional. The product is suitable for wastewater applications.

Omega Engineering Inc.

Vortex flowmeter includes built-in reducers

instrumentation, process sensors
The digital Yewflo vortex flow meter with built-in reducers eliminates the need for costly sections of reducing runs commonly required when applying vortex flow meters. These reducing sections are normally required to increase the velocity through the meter for more stable, accurate measurements at low flows. According to its developer, the most significant feature of these new meters is its ability to provide up to two meter-size step-downs. For example, many times a 1- or 1ith either a 1 ½- or 2-in. diameter bore to increase the meter range. The new reducer design is available in integral or remote configurations with flanged connections in line sizes from 1 to 12-in. diameter. The meter can be applied in liquid, gas, and steam applications.

Yokogawa Corp. of America

Flowmeter targets chemical/process industriesinstrumentation, process sensors

The MAG 3100P electromagnetic flowmeter is a modular pulsed dc flowmeter that is designed to meet the most common specifications within the chemical and process industries. It uses PTFE and PFA liners and Hastelloy electrodes, especially appropriate for these industries. The fully welded construction provides a ruggedness that fits almost every flow application. The flowmeters feature what is said to be a unique Sensor PROM memory unit which stores sensor calibration data and transmitter settings for the lifetime of the product. At commissioning, the device begins measurement without any initial programming. The advantages of the electromagnetic flowmeters include compact or remote installation using the same transmitter and sensor, and the use of a USM II communication platform for easy integration with all systems. The MAG 3100P is certified according to EN 10204 3.1 and is ATEX approved.

Siemens Energy & Automation, Process Instrumentation Group

High adaptability vortex meter

Optiswirl is purported to be the only vortex flowmeter with integrated pressure and temperature compensation. The 4070C model reliably measures operating, normal volumetric and mass flow of conductive and non-conductive liquids, gases and vapors even in the case of fluctuating pressures and temperatures. The device features its developer’s intelligent signal processing technology that ensures an exact interpretation of measured values from which external perturbations have been eliminated. The 4070C is said to be robust, reliable, and maintenance-free. Thanks to its non-wearing stainless steel design there is no risk of deposits or damage to the bluff body. In addition, the design is resistant to pressure, temperature, and corrosion. Typical applications include applications in the chemical, metal, oil and gas, paper, and water sectors as well as SIP and CIP processes in the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries.

Krohne Inc.

Stable accuracy at high temps, velocities

The PanaFlow MV is the newest addition to the PanaFlow multivariable flowmeter line. Key applications for the PanaFlow MV include steam power generation: industrial HVAC/district energy management; commercial building, campus, and facility management; oil and gas and allocation of natural gas applications, and petrochemical applications including mass balancing and reaction processes heating. The flowmeter’s multivariable design consists of a vortex shedding velocity sensor, an RTD sensor, and a solid-state pressure transducer that measures the mass flow rate of steam, gases, and liquids. Using the algorithms meter can automatically calculate the energy usage in steam and provide the data formats including Btu and kwH. Built-in HART and Modbus protocols will help MV meters seamlessly communicate to the end-user’s process monitoring software. It is a cost effective, accurate, and reliable meter for volumetric and mass flow measurement for small diameter pipes from 0.5 to 8 in. diameter.

GE, Sensing & Inspection Technologies

In-situ calibration system eliminates de-install/re-install

instrumentation, process sensors
The VeriCal In-Situ Calibration Verification System for the GF90 air/gas flowmeters allows plant technicians to confirm flow measurement accuracy without removing the meter from the pipe or process, saving time and money. The system is said to be the easiest, fastest, lowest cost way to confirm gas flow calibration accuracy to meet process validation, safety, and environmental regulation requirements. The VeriCal System is a specially manufactured and plumbed GF90 flow element with additional electronics to feed and measure a precise flow of gas from a nitrogen source. To test a GF90 flow meter, the nitrogen gas is flowed through the meter’s flow element and measured at five pre-set measurement points across the meter’s range. The insitu flowmeter test data is then compared to original FCI laboratory calibration and installation benchmark test data for the meter. The system delivers high accuracy measurement over a wide range, including low flows and features constant power technology, achieving turndowns from 1000:1, accuracy of +1 percent of reading plus 0.5 percent of scale, with repeatability of +0.5 percent of reading or better.

Fluid Components International Inc.

Metal magmeter configuration expands range, versatilityinstrumentation, process sensors

The Signet 2552 Metal Magmeter family now includes the new Model 2552-3, which is a rugged insertion flow sensor that permits hot-tap access to the pipe stream, allowing quick and easy installation or maintenance without system shut-down. Its robust design and durable metal housing provide accurate flow sensing in extremely harsh environments. The lightweight extended configuration of the new device can be mounted into a broad range of pipe sizes from 2 to 102-in. diameter. (DN50 to DN2550). The patented design offers outstanding performance characteristics including a wide dynamic flow range of 0.15 to 33 ft/s with repeatability ofoutput options including frequency, digital, or 4-20mA, allowing customers the flexibility to connect with other Signet instrumentation via the frequency or digital (S3L) signal output, or use the blind transmitter (4 to 20 mA output) for long distance signal transmission application requirements.


GF Piping Systems

Expanded range, wider turndown in rugged package

instrumentation, process sensors
With its advanced electromagnetic multi-point sensing technology for large line sizes, a smart programmable signal converter, and a virtually noise-immune cable, the Multi-Mag L Series flowmeter is said to deliver exceptional performance in a NEMA 6/IP67 package that is ideal for demanding municipal water and industrial processes. Incorporating a new microprocessor-based signal converter, the flowmeter provides what is said to be superior linearity across six points of measurement for an expanded flow range with higher turndowns and superior repeatability. Its signal converter also features a highly intuitive operator interface with a large, easy-to-read digital screen including graphics capability. Below the screen, a three-button membrane switch makes programming easier, simplifies installation and helps prevent operator errors. Designed with a shielded cable that is virtually noise immune, it provides an improved noise-to-signal ratio. The device installs in minutes without shutting down the system and removes easily through standard valves. Its signal converter enclosure is NEMA 6/IP67 approved for harsh operating environments with temperatures ranging from -4 to 140 °F. The Multi-Mag L Series measures volumetric flow with accuracy up to

McCrometer Inc.

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