Krohne, for example, will be launching later this year (probably at either the Interkama or Achema shows in Germany) a new version of its Optiflux magmeter electronics that will feature “a virtual reference”, says Hans Windgassen, product business manager in Dordrecht, the Netherlands. “This option abolishes the need for grounding in most applications,” he explains, “and can save on installation costs.” And cutting installation and running costs even more will be a new battery-powered meter, with a battery life of up to six years, that should be of interest for remote installations, especially in water and wastewater pipelines.
In common with many other suppliers of flow meters— of all different types, not just magmeters — Krohne has been concentrating much of its development work on the electronics side of the instruments. For example, Windgassen says the inclusion of a conductivity measurement circuit, now offered as a standard feature, has generated positive reactions from users. “Not so much that people wanted to measure conductivity itself,” he points out, “but more that they can now derive a lot of information on the product, or on the process conditions, or even on safety aspects such as whether or not a pipe has been adequately purged.”
Similarly, ABB Instrumentation, Rochester, N.Y., recently expanded its range of magmeters with the Parti-Mag II, which features improved sensor and microprocessor technology to give greater accuracy on partially full pipeline applications (Figure 3). The better signal quality eliminates the need for the instrument’s converter to be routinely reset to zero to ensure continued accuracy.
Although manufacturers have always looked to improve the performance and accuracy of their meters, Bret Shanahan, Chanhassen, Minn.-based marketing vice-president for vortex and magnetic meters at Emerson, sees the main growth coming from suppliers offering comprehensive solutions with their meters. An example of this, he says, is the temperature compensation now available with vortex meters to add multivariable capabilities.
|Figure 3. The Parti-Mag II features improved sensor and microprocessor technology to provide greater accuracy on partially full pipelines.
More generally, he also cites the rapidly growing interest in on-line diagnostics and asset management solutions. “There’s almost a craving for more information from in-line meters,” he says. “In magmeters, for example, we’ve found that by having a grounding wiring diagnostic facility, we can accelerate users’ start-up times.” Another diagnostic feature recently added to the company’s magmeters is one for detecting high process noise — a condition that can upset meter readings but one that can be mitigated by changing coil drive frequency, if only the user knows about the problem in the first place.
So, while the fundamentals of flow meters might not have changed much over the years, their functionality certainly has, adding value all the way down the line.