A short blog about terminology which is often used when flowmeter specifications are discussed.
The quality of the instrument is easily verified by doing a number of repeated measurements and comparing the measured values. A robust measurement concept will prove the multiple readings to be close to each other, there is little to no variance. The flowmeter then has a high repeatability, which is a positive aspect.
An ultrasonic flowmeter has no moving parts which inherently adds to the repeatability when compared to a turbine-meter where overspin and start-stop behaviour leads to variances.
What about reproducibility
Sometimes the term reproducibility is mentioned, this is a correct word, with a very different meaning than repeatability. Reproducibilty indicates how succesful a different person can obtain similar results from the same flowmeter. Again here a turbine-meter is more sensitive to the piping and orientation which reduces the chance that readings will be exactly the same in a random setup.
The mix-up of the two terms is often heard in Dutch-speeking countries, which is not a coindence. The Dutch translation of repeatability is reproduceerbaarheid, often mixed up with reproducibility.
Is repeatability relevant for flowmeister
Flowmeister uses repeatability the way it was intended. The open bore instrument with no moving parts proves repeatable, time after time after time.
Our single use instrument-range (Flowmax 242i) shares all design features which make the industrial insturments reliable and repeatable. This includes a full calibration, ensuring a trusted operation, no matter if it is for hours, days or years!
Reproducibility matters as well.
Our different customers all experience good performance of the flowmeter. Either in chemical, semi-conductor or OEM-industry, the results are good. This is an example of reproducibilty.
More about repeatability and reproducibility can be read here.
React to this post
I hope the above gave clarification between two terms will lead to better understanding and less mix-up in your daile flow-business. Let me know if further questions or remarks pop up.
How direct and indirectly measured parameters tell what’s inside your tubes
Hygienic manufacturing focuses on safety and reliability. Cleanliness is one of the external aspects to affect product quality. Product-sampling is often performed to verift product-quality. To reduce waste, the challenge is to quickly and accurately identify different fluids in the process pipework. Reading multiple properties of the liquid can now be achieved while measuring the flowrate.
Cleaning in Place to prevent contamination
Flowmeters can come in all shapes and sizes and finding the most appropriate design for a particular application can be difficult. However, for hygienic applications, models with open bore and no dead space inside will considerably shorten the start-up if your line. The ease of cleaning and ability to withstand Clean in Place (CIP) procedures,saves time and adds value.
Cleaning processes have a significant impact on many aspects of the design when it comes to selecting the most suitable components. CIP uses both heat and chemicals to remove scale, bacteria, and debris from process vessels and pipework, including your flowmeter.
Modern production facilities will be used to produce a range of products and manufacturers are faced with the challenge of ensuring that one product is not contaminated with another. In many cases this process is completed using a timer, so, when the first production run has finished, the lines and vessels are flushed and cleaned, with the output going to the drain.
The duration of the cleaning flush cycle (in the above example from 9..19) is a fixed period which guarantees that none of the previous product remains in the system. A next batch of product then starts to flow, and this also continues to drain for a further period, until it is certain that none of the water or cleaning solutions are in the line.
Reduce waste, improve productivity
To be sure there is no contamination, safety factors are built-in to these processes, which inevitably means that cleaning fluid – and valuable product- is sent to the drain. By using a method of accurately identifying the fluids and their flow volume in the pipework, considerable cost savings as well as improving productivity for manufacturers can be achieved.
How can a flowmeter recognize liquids?
An ultrasonic flowmeter uses acoustic waves to obtain a direct measurement of flow. Flowmax measures the time that an acoustic signal needs to travel through the liquid. The instrument also measures temperature. As a result of the measuring process we know two more parameters: the actual speed of sound through the liquid and the acoustic transmission factor. These direct and indirectly acquired parameters can be analyzed to provide a real-time indication of the contents of the pipework. When these parameters are logged, an operator can verify and proove at all times which liquids have been running through the meter, at which temperatures and for how long.
For hygienic applications, the open bore housing without gaps or dead space is ideal. The smooth wall pipe design means there is no direct contact of any sensor components with the fluid. The body DN-size can be manufactured to the same diameter as the rest of the pipeline. In terms of hygiene, cleaning and flow-conditions, there is nearly no difference to any other piece of straight pipe.
Process-operators have found that they not only save product that would have otherwise been wasted, but the additional information saves a considerable amount of time. By reducing the total change-over-time, the productivity of the process greatly improves. Each reduction in the volume of fluids being sent to the drain also delivers savings in water treatment costs.
It’s not magic
Let’s remember that the flowmeter got installed to measure flow. All other information that it retrieves is a nice extra. The direct readings are valuable, accurate and true (flow, temperature, actual speed of sound, bubbles yes/no). Conclusions drawn towards density and viscosity may be close to accurate, but if absolute certainty on these properties is required, Flowmeister advises to use a Coriolis-meter. (When cost and sensitivity matter, the Flowmax ultrasonic flowmeter portfolio is worth investigating.)
Find out more or request a test
Flowmeister can test your liquids and show how distinct the separate liquids behave inside the Flowmax device. That remains the best way to get understanding of the reliability of liquid-recognition. Feel free to leave your comment, request or questions in the form below.
IThis blog was inspired on Flowmax customer stories, a Burkert-post and MIB GmbH test-results.
Only a few processes get better by flow-measurement alone. These are often processes where a delivered volume of liquid needs to be invoiced, like filling up your car at the gas-station. For both parties, seller and customer, it matters that the dispensed volume is measured to ensure an honest transaction.
The above example was rather a volume-, not flow-measurement. In many other processes where you can think of flow-measurement, the real reason for measuring is not the measurement itself. The measured flow is a process-input and is compared to the limit- or reference values. It’s easy to imagine that, if a deviation is found, either an alarm, or an automated correction is issued. A fairly reactive way of controlling if you ask me.
Why install a flowmeter and respond in a reactive manner to a situation that is already deviating from your nominal process? Why not install a flow-control instrument, taking care of a constant flow, preventing deviations? The answer to this question is probably the fact that liquid-flow-control is not a commonly known solution (yet).
Flowmeister challenges you to think further. Is your flow-application one where a constant liquid flow is really the goal? Would a closed-loop feedback and control system -keeping a steady flow, independant of pressure- make you feel more confident than your current set of instrumentation? Q-dose might just be the solution you have been trying to build sofar.
What is Q-dose?
Q-dose is a setup that starts with an ultrasonic flowmeter with integrated PID-feedback system. When the flowmeasurement notices a difference between actual flow and the given setpoint, the PID-function will adapt the output signal. The change in output signal makes a proportional valve act and compensate for the measured difference. This feedback-loop ensures a stable flowrate, thanks to a number of technical details, both in the flowmeter as in the controlling loop and principle of actuation.
Sometimes a process is thát critical and each deviation in flowrate must be noticed and compensated for. A customer application involves water with potentially some short disturbances in flowrate. With water as medium, lots of measurement methods can be used to measure flow, why chose Ultrasonic measurement then? The reason is in the additionla requirements.
Requirements mark the playing ground
There’s always more than one requirement when a flowmeter is being considered. In this Fast Flowmeter process, speed was obviously key-requirement number one! Next to a quick response, it would be beneficial that the flowmeter would disturb the water-flow the least possible. In addition, and related to that, a minimal pressure-drop could be allowed, pressure plays an important role in this customer’s process. A last requirement has to do with accuracy and scaling. The current maximum flowrate is 12 liters per minute. This may rise a bit in the future, so additional capacity is not bad, but 12 l/min should be in the accuracy-range of the instrument.
In itself the above requirements would qualify for four types of Flowmax ultrasonic flowmeters. To come to a ranking, the requirements are weighted, the most critical requirement is counted five times, the least important only once. By judging with weighted requirements, it became obvious that the Flowmax 44i has the best overall score.
From good to better
All four considered flowmeters are equally fast, have an open bore and no moving parts. On that behalf, they are all good. What made the difference is the close-to-straight bore of Flowmax 44. The straight bore of DN10 matches ideally with the piping inner diameter. This results in low pressure-drop and in less noise in the flow itself. Great how a non-critical parameter can make a small diference at the end.
How fast is Flowmax-fast?
The application may have minor disturbances that may last no longer than 0.1 second. Or 100 milliseconds to make it sound more 😉 Flowmax sensorics deliver 250 internal measurement values every second, that’s one reading every 4 milliseconds (!)
A minimum damping level is hard-coded in the Flowmax calculator, averaging each 4 measurements and providing the outcome as an output to the world. That makes the fastest rate 4×4= 16 milliseconds. Do you have 3.05 minutes? Watch this video of the importance of milliseconds for athletes.!
Reduced speed on demand
On demand, the user may want to increase damping of the signal.
With increased damping , the meter still takes 250 measurements per second. The difference is that a lot of things happen inside the calculator, with an end-effect resulting in one output signal every 2 seconds for example. This damping is an important factor in PID-control cycles.
Optional: PID in the meter itself
PID software is optionally available in the Flowmax instruments. Tell us your aplication and get fast advise.
Ireland has an impressive industry in bio-pharmaceutical companies. The world-wide top ranking of medicine-makers, at least has a plant in Ireland. Given the fact that bio-medical production often invloves liquids, the Irish industry has a need for instrumentation for liquid-monitoring and -dosing.
Not an ordinary instrument
Process-control solutions in regular industries form the basis of instruments which can -and are allowed to- be used in hazardous processes such as bio-pharmacy. The proven technology has to be translated into a capable design, approved materials, methods and shapes. Once functional, the instrument will undergo an intensive trajectory of validation and approval before it can be introduced commercially.
Flowmeister is proud to intoduce the Eire Flowmeter for ireland. It’s a high-end solution, with the requirements properly in place for a quick plug-validate-play scenario. Developed in 2014-2015, the MIB Flowmax 242i, a Single Use ultrasonic flowmeter, is readily available.
Less is more
Ranging from 0.015 liter per minute up to 24 liter per minute with four different measuring-tubes we believe to offer solutions to cover the spectrum of regular applications in the bio-pharmaceutical industry. Knowing that the cost of an ultrasonic instrument is somewhat more than simple meters, it’s good to bring some relativity in the scale.
A first factor is a matter of smart design. Only the wetted parts are to be disposed, the valuable calculator and electronics remain for a lifetime. Secondly, the accuracy is high, better tan 1% of measured value, even at fluctuating flowrates! Ultrasound is fast, we give you a measurement every 16 milliseconds (if you like). Thirdly, the instrument has a free bore, with no obstacles no moving parts and only one wetted material.
Within chemical processes, a controlled and regulated flowrate is one of the key-parameters to ensure a safe and succesful process. The top-three features in this sector are: – Safety – Reliability – Repeatability The ultrasonic flowmeter for chemicals robustly fills in these three demands. In addition, the instruments are fast and accurate, which is an advantage in processes with fluctuating flow, such as fast dosing processes.
Chemical Flowmeter is all about material-properties
Each aspect in a product-design is important, but for the chemical flowmeter the choice of materials is crucial. Imagine one of the wetted parts being insufficiently resistant to your fluid, what would the consequences be….? If safety cannot be guaranteed, who wants to know about reliability or repeatability?
The MIB flowmeter named Flowmax, is not a one-size-fits-all solution, it is a whole range of instruments with different shapes and materials. Besides some specific properties, all instruments have five important features in common:
– Plastic housing – Free bore – No moving parts – Smooth inner surface -No electrodes or metals, just one wetted part!
Some examples of Flowmax
The basis instrument is Flowmax 44i, made of PolySulfon (PSU) This typical black shiny housing is injection-moulded, resulting in zero gaps or joints in the wetted area. Usable for multiple properties of conducting or non-conducting liquids, but not for Chloride.
A real pro in chemical flowmeasurement is Flowmax 400, made of PFA and also injection moulded. Its usability excels in the lower flowranges, down to one liter per hour. Integration in tubing systems makes a perfect fit with the integrated flare-connections. Adaptor to threaded process-connection is optionally available.
Higher flowrates up to 900 liter per minute are possible with the Flowmax 54i range. The machined body gives additional flexibility in material and process-connection. Standard material is PE-HD because of the good properties in lightly aggressive media. Process connection is outer thread. Flowmax 54i is also available in the extremely resistant PE-Xc and in poly-propylene (PP). Customized process-connections are possible on demand.
Another variant is Flowmax 242i, also in a machined PE-HD body with possibilities and certification for application in bio-chemical and bio-pharmaceutical environments.
Not just any material, but the result of a fully validated and certified design-trajectory.
What’s particularly interesting is the re-use of the standard electronics housing (in black PSU) whilst the wetted measuring-tube is made of the mandatory certified PE_HD.
Application-driven development leads to new products. This is an overview of high-end flowmeters in PE-Xc
Why develop Flowmax in PE?
Flowmax has been available in chemically resistant materials since years. Why making the addition to existing Flowmax series in PSU and PFA? MIB GmbH has developed the Flowmax in HDPE for two reasons:
Reason 1: Flexibility Existing Flowmax 44 (in PSU) and 400 (in PFA) are based on die-casting. This is a good manufacturing-process, but is limited in flexibility because of the existing moulds. The ability to machine every shape allows for a wide range in: – integrated process-connections such as Tri-clamp, hose-pillar or threaded. – different bore-diameters – customer-specific mechanical mounting – customer-branding / logo integration
Reason 2: Material-properties The material-properties of PE are interesting for the applications we support. First of all, PE is available in a FDA-approved version. This is a basic need for our Single Use Flowmeter Flowmax 242i Secondly, the base-properties of HDPE offer a great portfolio of chemical resistance. Thirdly, the standard HDPE can be upgraded to withstand extreme situations, see below for more details.
Improved material properties for PE-HD
High Density Poly-Ethylene (HDPE) has proven to be a useful basematerial for industrial components.
To achieve maximum performance, a treatment can be done to convert the material properties to a higher level. The molecular structure of regular HDPE will migrate to a stronger 3D structure with an after-treatment. The improved material is named PE-Xc. (X stands for cross-linked, c represents the after-treatment delivering the sublime material properties). In daily German operation, the HDPE-Xc version is also known as PE-HDV (V stands for ‘vernetzt)
Available flowmeters in PE-Xc
Flowmax offers a range of instruments in HDPE, most of them in PE-Xc upgrade as well. Typically the Chemical Applications benefit from the increased properties. (Link in Dutch)
Flowmax 42i is the initiator of the HDPE-versions. Main reason for its existence was a reduced bore-diameter in order to lower the measuring range for a pharmaceutical application.
Low-flow bore, customer specific process-connection and FDA-approved material came together in the design of the Flowmax 42i measuring tube.
The standard electronics have been integrated in the Flowmax 42i body. Demanding applications can be fulfilled with the Flowmax 42i in PE-Xc material.
Quickly after approval of the Flowmax 42i, the pharmaceutical customer requested a Single Use version of this PE Flowmeter.
This Single Use request eventually resulted in Flowmax 242i M, a separate measuring tube out of FDA-approved PP, with remote electronics.
For bio-pharmaceutical use, the PP material is excellent and the MIB-standard. Still, the body is available in HDPE or HDPE-Xc on request.
Either PP or HDPE: a material certificate is available of course!
A third line in HDPE is the newest instrument, Flowmax 54i. These instruments typically address higher flowrates such as cooling-circuits or high-volume chemical processes. The three versions (DN32-40-50) are available in PE-Xc as well, making them optimally equipped for higher temperatures and mechanical wear when measuring abrasive slurries.
Why Flowmax in PE-Xc?
Want to know more about the specific properties and how a PE Flowmeter (or PE-Xc) will improve your application? Just give us a sign using the form below and receive our response within two working day!
Did we meet in San Francisco? MIB has been visiting the SEMICON West Tradeshow in San Francisco. If you consider the usage of an Ultrasonic Flowmeter, this was a right occasion to meet us in person and get all your questions answered right away. With the holidays behind us, we are back at your service per August 1st!
Time is limited
Our agenda is filling up, but there’s always a way to meet.
Maybe not at Semicon, but just use the contactform and we’ll be in touch to set a meeting time with you.
Thanks in advance!
About MIB GmbH
MIB GmbH is the German company behind Flowmeister.nl where the ultrasonic flowmeters are developed, produced, calibrated and shipped.
Together with pre-filled syringes and ampoules, vials are the most common packaging for liquid pharmaceuticals. When dispensing this valuable medicine, the dose-control is important for more than one reason: – patients must get the right dose – each drop which is given away costs money – a detected error will have big consequences on the whole batch
Two important process steps
Delivering a properly filled vial merely depends on two actions. Step one is adding the right volume in the vial. Step two is verification that the dosed volume is really within specifications.
Ways to check the vial filling result
There is more than one way to verify the content of a filled vial, and the best one is a weight verification. Another method can be visual inspection of the fluid level in the vial. Weight verification can be done fast and accurate and is the most common -and often prescribed- verification method.
The weight-verification should be no more than a verification. In a nominal process, 100% of the vials are verified and found to be ok. However, not all processes are nominal and deviations may happen during the filling. Weight-verification will detect any vial which is out of range. This is good for the customer, but affects production output and leads to reduced efficiency (OEE Overall Equipment Efficiency).
Raising OEE by reducing filling errors
The OEE-figure depends on availability of liquid and vials, the filling time and verification error-percentage. Assuming there are enough vials and liquid, influencing OEE can only be done by the filling-time and accuracy. By establishing a fast filling-process which flawlessly doses the right volume for each vial, the reject-percentage will be -close to- zero!
A capable flowmeter will be one of the key-components of such a fast-filling process. Such an instrument can only be capable if speed and accuracy are inline with the process values. (next to the measuring, a good PID-control, piping and actuator-valve are key components)
Capability by design
The ultrasonic flowmeter can be considered capable, this has been proven by validation and daily practice. Capability is good due to the below properties of ultrasonic FlowMax instruments:
Flowmax delivers hundreds of measurements per second
Instrument body-sizing starts from DN3, (500 ml per hour)
The length of the measuring tube is maximized
The sonic path is optimized for low-flow accuracy
Smart algoritms process the raw measured data into a robust and stable signal
Speed can be increased by filling multiple vials in parallel. – Weight-verification will still be in place – Rejects found are at ppm-level. – PID, Piping and Actuator need to be capable as well
Proven and documented
It’s hard to image, accuracy within 10 milliseconds of dosing…. Field validation has proven this is still capable. -> Ask for results, we can share them, but unfortunately not on the website.
Get in touch with Flowmeister
Are you filling vials, syringes or ampoules? Get to know more advantages! Mail Flowmeister
or leave your details in the form below and get contacted within one working day!
The Disposable Flowmeter is a niche-product of which meanwhile multiple variants have become available in the market. Diversity in the available solutions is good, since there is no universal solution that only has advantages. Depending on your demands and wishes, it can be determined which type of single use flowmeter will suit your application best. Below I like to menstion some aspects that are to be considered in the selection-process.
Demands and wishes
When starting to think about specifications, a number of aspects will come to your attention. In this phase it is useful to separate the absolute demands from the more ‘soft’ wishes. Doing this will help you in a later stage where you might be forced to choose between possible solutions. An example is de flowrange of the instrument. The current application will hae a lower limit and an upper limit. If the lower limit is a demand, please store it as such in your list. If a higher max flowrate may be useful in the future, write it down as a wish. It may very well be that a high flowrate instrument is available, but doesn’t offer the required accuracy in it’s lower measuring range.
Each type of instrument measures differently and with a different deviation. Each method has in it’s physical form a maximum achievable accuracy. Deviation from the nominal measured value results in a process-deviation.
It’s up to you to determine wich level of accuracy is required. When comparing, please be advised to ensure the unit of measure in which accuracy is expressed. A 1% deviation of Full Scale (FS) can be completely different from a 1% of Measured Value (MV). This topic is further detailed in another chapter. A high-end instrument such as Coriolis or Ultrasonic will prove it’s accuracy on the certificate of calibration.
The socalled ‘wetted parts’ are all the internal parts of the disposable flowmeter that actually are in contact with the measured medium, zijn de onderdelen van het instrument die met het medium in aanraking komen. In the example of a turbine-meter these are: housing, turbinenbladed, shaft, bearings and possible sealing material. An electromagnetic flowmeter already has less wetted parts, but will always have a housing, metal electrodes and seals. Coriolis- and ultrasonic flowmeters often have just one wetted part, the housing itself. In the case of MIB Flowmax, the wetted material is an approved and resistant plastic. Here’s an example of a Suppliers certificate.
Gaps and dead-space
The main reason to go for a single use / disposable component is cleanliness or purity. Contamination in any form or shape is absolutely unacceptable. The form and shape of your instrument affects the risk of contamination. Gaps between components are potential hiding places for bacteria and other unwanted particles or even molecules. Presence of sharp edges and corners or bearing points means an increase of risk. Free-bore instruments are always the better option, electromagnetic, Coriolis and Ultrasonic have a comparable ranking. When considering all details like number of gaps, surface roughness and dead-space, the all-plastic one-piece housing of the ultrasonic disposable flowmeter scores best.
The financial aspect will remain an aspect in the total ranking. In cases where cost is the most important factor, a turbine-meter will be the better option compared to more advanced instruments.
Bio-pharmaceutical processen have risks which financially have hundreds or thousands times the impact of the instrument value.
Those riscs can partly be prevented by selecting the right equipment for your process.
A clean instrument, free of moving components and with only one wetted part, which reliably measures with high accuracy -even in pulsating flow- is always good value for the money!
Save money by replacing only the neccessary
In MIB‘s strive to always do the maximum possibe in your advantage, also the cost-impact has been considered. By designing the instrument with a separate measuring tube, the wetted parts can be exchanged whilst leaving the electronics in place. In fact it is a single use flowmeasuring tube rather than a single use flowmeters. By providing factory-calibrated measuring tubes, including a dongle with the unique calibration details, you’re ensured of the original accuracy. In case of a process-change, the nominal bore-size of the measuring tube can be replaced by another size and the matching dongle takes care of the accuracy.
This smart design is freely available and saves you €1.500,= per exchange!
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