Flow meters: a role in Industry 4.0 success

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The challenges facing the process industry, and its use of flow meters, can be summarized as increasing complexity; breadth of choice and product selection; maintaining accuracy of flow meters across the life-cycle; and how to control the huge number of flow meters and sensors across the plant.
Source:  Control Engineering Europe, IML, May 2017

Flow meters: a role in Industry 4.0 success

José Leonett discusses the changing flow metering needs of the process industry to allow it to meet current and future challenges

The challenges facing the process industry, and its use of flow meters, can be summarised as increasing complexity; breadth of choice and product selection; maintaining accuracy of flow meters across their life-cycle; sifting the important information from the noise generated by the growing number of alerts and alarms produced; and how to control the huge number of flow meters and sensors across the plant.
Many of the challenges outlined could be overcome with the adoption of smart flow meters which support the user during the entire product life cycle and can be smoothly integrated in the plant control environment.

Minimising risk
Until industry decides what it can to do minimise to an acceptable level the risks involved with Industry 4.0, process plant managers need to consider products that can be deployed today, while at the same time are ready to exploit Industry 4.0 benefi ts in the future.
As innovation drives new products, the complexity in the production process is increasing with input lines being added as more components are used and, in turn, these all need to be accurately measured. The challenge is not only to ensure that the precise amount is introduced consistently to deliver the required quality output. Processing plants are no longer built to produce one product. They need the fl exibility to meet rapidly changing market demands. This requires flow meters that can quickly be reconfi gured or updated with new features when required with minimum down-time.
As process complexity increases, so has the choice of flow and level meters, requiring a growing engineering expertise to choose the right product to deliver the right performance. The different types of meters and different performance profi les means that engineers can no longer select the right product simply from data tables. They need to consider many parameters like measuring technology, mass or volume throughput, temperature, pressure loss, and line size. In many instances external help is required to guide engineers through the selection process.

Life-time accuracy
Planned maintenance and calibration of meters is no longer suffi cient. Meters need to be able to alert staff when they experience issues that affect their performance before it creates a product quality issue or process shutdown. This requires on-board diagnostics capable of continual monitoring of the unit and flow tubes without interfering with the measuring process.
Introducing intelligence into flow meters provides the opportunity to access performance data. However, poorly confi gured meters increase the quantity of alert notifi cations and alarms that need to be processed by the DCS or the plant staff. To overcome this modern flow meters must also have the ability to confi gure the types and amount of alarms and warnings at any time. The flow meter must also be able to provide data from both before and after an event.
The flow meter should also be able to indicate abrasion, corrosion, viscosity in a certain range, flow velocity and many more. These data should be available and logged in real-time to give total insight into a process.

Remote meter control
With batch production it is likely that the process will need to change regularly. Traditionally this has meant plants faced considerable downtime and set-up to switch between processes. Flow meters now need to be capable of storing many sets of process parameters and concentration sets in a single unit which allows a straightforward switch over. Having worked with these challenges for over ten years Yokogawa believes its recently introduced ROTAMASS TI (Total Insight) range offers a solution to these mass flow metering needs. They are future-proofed to operate within existing regulatory frameworks, yet offer wider integration with the DCS and Industry 4.0 initiatives.
The Total Insight concept utilises the latest generation Coriolis Rotamass transmitters and provides enhanced settings capability for custom setups, predefi ned trend views, and storage of multiple confi guration sets for fast change overs involved in batch production scenarios. The range covers all the standard application areas, batching, balancing, blending, feeding, dosing, etc. In addition, they also include common functions for trending and recording, in-line verifi cation, dynamic pressure compensation, tube integrity and leak detection, basically, each has a total healthcheck function inside the flow meter.

José Leonett, is director marketing and business development for ROTA Yokogawa GmBH. 

 

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