Electromagnetic flowmeters are currently the meter of choice for the UK water

industry. Versatility of application and installation and the fact they are unintrusive,

coupled with improvements in accuracy, reliability and data transmission have

all had a big effect on their adoption. In an industry where purchase cost often

rules, however, a sharp decline in price throughout the 1990s has been instrumental

in the success of magmeter technology.

The fact ABB Kent has been able to sell meters at a price acceptable to an

industry which has been seeking to achieve major cost reductions ever since

privatisation has been vital to the company’s success. Manufacturers wishing

to charge premium prices for flow measurement products were simply unable to

compete, as rival supplier Krohne discovered. According to Peter West, the company’s

marketing manger, in the past the rigidity of Krohne’s pricing structure has

hindered market penetration in the UK. “Over the years we tended to go

more for profit than volume. We have lots of products for the water industry,

but we have got to get the prices right,” he told WWT.

West sees the core strengths of Krohne’s products as high standards of build

quality which ensure robust, reliable meters with highly competitive whole life

costs. The company has found, however, that quality alone is insufficient to

win orders, and West believes it now has a better understanding of what water

companies want. As an example he cites the two-wire meters used for specialist

process applications. To reduce installation time and costs, the need to complete

a two-wire connection has been replaced with a more straightforward plug-in


With many framework agreements coming up for renewal during the next three

to four years, Krohne will be presenting what it believes to be more attractive

packages. Pricing is being reviewed, commissioning and maintenance services

– which water companies are increasingly seeking as part of the deal – will

also be offered. Service provision is likely to have a bias toward rapid replacement

of failing meters rather than the undertaking of onsite repairs.

At Interkama 2001 in September, Krohne will be unveiling Magcheck, a new servicing

tool. Magcheck is a portable, in-line flowmeter verification system which runs

a functionality check on flowhead, converter and cables while the flowhead remains

in-line. Buried flowmeters can be checked without excavation, and once the plug-and-play

cables are connected verification is carried out automatically. Data processing

is undertaken at a work station.

Magcheck is Windows 95, 98 and 2000 compatible, and meets ISO 9001. Verified

accuracy is guaranteed to within ±1% of the original factory calibration

– the system is compatible with all present converters and sensors.

As utilities renew frameworks, West is hopeful they will become increasingly

willing to take into account the whole life cost of owning and operating flowmeters

as well as purchase price. The pump market has already witnessed such a shift

of emphasis, and whole life costing is an area in which West believes Krohne’s

meters can compete favourably.

Accuracy is another area Krohne perceives as a strength. At a production facility

in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, meters are calibrated on what the company claims

is the ‘largest, most accurate flow calibration rig in the world’. Calibration

range spans 18m3/h to 40,000m3/h with an accuracy of ±0.013%, the rig

can calibrate flowmeters of up to 3,000mm. Every instrument leaving the factory

is wet-calibrated by direct volume comparison, and supplied with an individual

calibration certificate. The rig has received accreditation from the RVA, the

Dutch council for accreditation, to calibrate on behalf of the NKO, the Dutch

calibration organisation.

In response to an anticipated growth in demand for ultrasonic flowmeters, the

Dordrecht site will soon have a dedicated ultrasonic meter production facility.

Although demand in Europe is principally for magmeters, use of ultrasonic devices

is likely to grow as resistance borne of problems with early installations are

overcome and the price gap between the two technologies narrows.

According to Fredrich Hofmann, Krohne’s product manager for both electromagnetic

and ultrasonic flowmeters, the magmeter market is peaking with few new applications

likely to emerge. As a pointer to the future of ultrasonics, however, Hofmann

cites developing markets such as China, where demand is much greater than anticipated.

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