In-Situ Flowmeter Verification

Problem:  Industrial flowmeters for many applications require periodic validation of the meter’s accuracy.  The meter validation procedure can be a costly endeavor, both in terms of the cost of the procedure itself and due to the associated factory downtime, and especially when multiplied by dozens or hundreds of meters.  A verification technique that can be run with the meter in place can significantly reduce a customer’s cost of ownership.

Coriolis mass flowmeters are often described as the “Cadillac” of flowmeters.  Since they directly measure mass they are immune to density effects.  They are also designed to be robust to other potential effects, such as temperature, pressure, or viscosity.  However, one potential problem for these meters is erosion and corrosion.  Certain harsh process materials (e.g. strong acids, oil with sand) can physically degrade the meter by thinning the tube walls.  These changes to the meter’s structure can render the original flow calibration invalid.

Micro Motion, a division of Emerson Electric and the world’s leading Coriolis flowmeter manufacturer, engaged with Etegent to develop a technology to detect changes to a meter’s structure and warn users that the calibration may no longer be valid.  The developed technique, Structural Integrity Meter Verification (SIMV), works by exciting the flowmeter at several frequencies and fitting a structural model to the resulting measurements.  The parameters of this structural model are compared to a similar model made during the meter’s manufacture.  Excessive changes in key structural parameters trigger a warning to the end user that their meter has changed.

The SIMV technology developed has been of great benefit to end users.  Its results are unaffected by the customer’s process, so verification can be done in-place, potentially with fluid still flowing.  All measurements are made using the meter’Ss internal transducers and signal processing, so verification requires no special setup by maintenance personnel.  Factory downtime is minimized, and validation costs are reduced or eliminated.

SIMV has also been successful for Micro Motion.  The technology has generated significant revenue with no increase in per-unit costs, since the technology ran on the existing hardware and electronics.  In fact, sales in the first two years after SIMV’s introduction have more than covered the cost of development.  More importantly, SIMV serves as a key technological differentiator between Micro Motion and its competition;  Micro Motion and Etegent research personnel have a pending patent on the core SIMV technology, and are currently working on a follow-up project to extend this technology.

Solution:  Structural Integrity Meter Verification allows customers to verify that a flowmeter is the same as when it left the factory, and thus that its calibration is still valid.  This verification is done in place, potentially with the customer’s process running.  Numerous end-users have benefitted from fewer maintenance cycles, and Micro Motion has generated significant revenue with no increase in per-unit costs.

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Thank you for your help in developing advanced verification capability for our flow meter products. We will be introducing this feature to the marketplace later this year. We wouldn’t be where we are today without your involvement...

Denis Henrot
VP of Engineering Micro Motion Inc.

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Etegent Technologies, Ltd.  
5050 Section Ave.
Suite 110
Cincinnati, OH 45212