The Role of Flow Meters in Different Industries
A flow meter is utilized to measure the amount of liquid or gas that moves through a pipe, or flow rate. The applications of flow measurement are diverse and each industry has its own engineering requirements and constraints. Depending on the industry where a flow meter is used, it may be referred to as flow indicator, flow gauge, liquid meter, etc. however, their function is the same: to measure the rate of flow.
Listed below are some of the industries where flow meters are used:
In particular, flow meters are required in oxygen therapy. Various machines are used to administer oxygen. The oxygen first passes via a pressure regulator. This regulator controls the high-pressurized oxygen which is delivered from the cylinder. It administered as low pressure. This lowered pressure is monitored or controlled by a flow meter. This function can be selectable or preset. The flow is measured in liters per minute or lpm. The range for a medical oxygen flow meter is from0 to 15lpm. Some units are able to get up to 25lpm. Some wall flow meters utilize a Thorpe tube design; it can be set to “flush” which is helpful during emergency situations.
An anesthesia respiratory device includes a dosing unit, monitoring of both the patient and the device and the respiratory device. In inhalation anesthesia, a mix of oxygen, air, anesthetic (sevoflurane, desflurane or isoflurane) and nitrous oxide is administered to the patient. These volatile anesthetics are mixed into the respiratory air in specific concentrations into the anesthetic device along with the expiratory and inspiratory volume flows. The flow meter, in this case, ensures that the patient receives the right mixture of gasses as selected by the anesthesiologist along with the set volume and pressure.
One unique example of how McMillan’s flow products were applied in a lab setting was for a company in California who needed flow sensors for prostate research. Researchers at the laboratory needed liquid flow sensors to establish urine flow levels that directly correlated with the onset of prostrate conditions.
There are many circumstances in die casting when a flow meter is used. These are:
In the die casting process, high temperatures are used. Therefore cooling liquids often reach extremely high temperatures. Cooling water lines are used in die temperature controls which can get blocked because of their complex and thin design. The cooling liquid flow is closely tied to die temperatures, as a result flow meter control is vital to maintaining proper temperatures.
Die lubricants increase the lifespan of dies which enhance product quality. Lubricants protect surfaces from temperature peaks that may occur when molten metal is poured into the die cavity. Fluctuations in the die lubricant can lead to temperature-related issues, making the products stuck in the die post cooling. The amount of lubricant is, therefore, critical. This function is controlled with the use of a Keyence FD-M flow meter.
Semiconductor Fab Industry
Many semiconductor manufacturers face many challenges in their production processes. As a result, many engineers rely on flow meters to meet manufacturing requirements and reduce operating expenses. Many of the chemicals that are used are costly to buy because they have strict purity and corrosive properties. This is why engineers need precise flow levels of the chemicals to get specific results and to avoid overuse of certain chemicals.
In the laboratory of a semiconductor fab company, flow meters are used to measure gasses and liquids to run experiments and calibrate or monitor laboratory equipment.
The following are some examples of how a flow meter can be used in this industry:
- To verify gas or liquid flow.
- For quality control purposes such as testing tube assemblies for blockages and leaks.
- To monitor cooling of semiconductor production equipment to ensure proper process temperatures producing higher yields and quality.
Flow meters in the automotive industry are utilized to determine the flow rate of a variety of fluids such as engine coolant, engine oil, wiper fluid and automatic transmission fluid. Automotive flow meters monitor and control consumption and inventory of supplies of fluid products. To monitor fuel consumption, engineers rely on flow meters to measure extremely low flows of diesel or gasoline to determine the combination of water and fuel combination.
The following are examples of flow meters used in the automotive industry:
Automotive Flow Meters
For example, automotive flow meters accurately measure fluids in the electronic field replaceable or serviceable registers. These are special meters, specifically designed for wiper fluid, brake fluid, and anti-freeze applications. This provides valuable data for inventory management systems.
Gas Flow Meters
These are used for repeatable and precise flow measurements of compressible fluids with the additional benefit of reduced pressure loss. To accommodate requirements of gas flow applications, gas flow meters have three rotor designs to measure low, medium and high-density gasses.
Universal Flow Meters
Universal flow meters are used to measure gear oils and antifreeze fluids. They are used like an inventory control device in the lubricant dispensing systems. These flow meters are rugged, accurate and light weight. These are called universal meters because they can adapt to many different applications.
HVAC systems refer to the technology that deals with heating, ventilation and air conditioning of vehicular and indoor comfort. Flow meters monitor volumetric flow pressures and rates. To minimize energy expenses and to reduce energy costs, greater measuring sensitivity, decreasing measuring range, long-term stability of the sensor and accuracy are required. In addition, flow meters must be able to meet particular HVAC systems requirements such as air laden with dust or moisture. They must be easy and small enough to integrate into OEM systems.
Room Pressure Monitoring
In an air conditioned room, the extraction and supply of air is controlled in a way that reduces differential pressures in the surrounding environment. In hospitals and laboratories, a negative pressure is maintained in order to prevent the spread of hazardous substances and germs. On the other hand, in a clean room, constant overpressure must be maintained to prevent entry of untreated air.