Intelligent Flowmeters

Measuring with intelligent flowmeters

All the usual benefits associated with intelligent instruments are potentially applicable to many types of flowmeter. However, their availability in the market place is currently very limited.

Intelligent differential pressure measuring instruments can be used to good effect in conjunction with obstruction-type flow transducers. One immediate benefit of this in the case of the commonest flow-restriction device, the orifice plate, is to extend the lowest flow measurable with acceptable accuracy down to 20% of the maximum flow value.

In positive-displacement meters, intelligence allows compensation for the thermal expansion of meter components and temperature-induced viscosity changes. Correction for variations in flow pressure is also provided for.

Intelligent electromagnetic flowmeters are also available, and these have a self-diagnosis and self-adjustment capability. The usable instrument range is typically from 3% to 100% of full-scale reading and quoted accuracy is 0.5%. It is also normal to include a non-volatile memory to protect constants used for correcting for modifying inputs, etc., against power supply failures.

Intelligent turbine meters are able to detect their own bearing wear and also report deviations from initial calibration due to blade damage, etc. Some versions also have a self-adjustment capability.

The trend is now moving towards total flow computers which can process inputs from almost any type of transducer. Such devices allow the input of parameters like specific gravity, fluid density, viscosity, pipe diameters, thermal expansion coefficients, discharge coefficients, etc. Auxiliary inputs from temperature transducers are also catered for. After processing the raw flow transducer output with this additional data, flow computers are able to produce measurements of flow to a very high degree of accuracy.

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