Over the years, I’ve heard some folks make the case that high-accuracy flow measurement is only required for certain “critical” applications and that end-users would be wise not to concern themselves too much with accuracy for those applications that really only require an “approximate” measurement. Going further, others make the case that there are process points that aren’t even worth the few hundred dollars it would require to provide a basic measurement. I would argue, on the other hand, that such noncritical applications are nearly extinct in today’s business environment where companies are struggling to squeeze every bit of efficiency out of their processes to keep up with their competitors, and in a world where the reality of just how finite our resources are becomes more and more apparent with each passing day.
Take, for example, water – whether it’s drinking water or wastewater from an industrial process – the measurement of water/wastewater is considered far more critical today than it was, say, 50 or 20 or even 10 years ago. Compare your water bills over the past five years, and you’ll likely see a pretty significant upward trend, making the accuracy of water measurement more important. Regarding wastewater, the growing need to reduce the amount of pollution contaminating our depleted useable water supplies has produced more stringent regulatory requirements, which in turn has made the measurement of wastewater not only a critical requirement, but also, in many cases, a mandated one. So what was once an application prime for “approximate” measurements now requires more sophisticated flowmetering technology.
Consider another example – I was recently having a chat at a trade show with a representative from a major flowmeter manufacturer who had been working with some oil refineries in the Middle East. He said many of these oil companies had been in the habit of burning off the natural gas that, in many cases, was situated on top of their oil reserves. (Talk about wasteful.) Now, however, with natural gas gaining momentum as a cleaner burning fossil fuel, these same companies are looking for ways to leverage their natural gas in conjunction with their oil reserves. So, here we have a resource that was once burned with no regard (quite literally), which is now being leveraged as a key asset for oil companies operating in the Middle East.
From my perspective, it seems clear that with wasteful lessons learned in hand, the importance of flow measurement figures to grow over time. No longer will businesses be able to add process points without some form of measurement capability … the more accurate, the better. And as the drive toward more sustainable business and, for that matter, societal models continues to evolve, I believe we will begin to see the mutually agreeable benefits of more, and more accurate, measurement – i.e., more efficient businesses that make more efficient use of our natural resources.
It is with this sentiment in mind that we present Flow Control magazine’s 2010 Flowmeter Technology Report issue. With technology overviews on key flowmeter categories, best practices for specification, installation and maintenance, and more than 500 supplier listings, we hope you find something in this year’s Flowmeter Technology Report that you can use to improve your flow measurements going forward.