The product of a new regime
Water companies have changed the priorities by which they choose flowmeters. According to Endress + Hauser's David Claridge the emphasis is now on securing life cycle management.
With water coming to be viewed more as a ‘product’, water companies are increasingly interested in tracking its path from abstraction, through production, to transfer and delivery. The new interest in tracing product transfer was fuelled by summer shortages during the mid-1990s and the associated increase in regulatory and political demands to reduce leakage. The most recent demand for fuller product tracking has been brought about by competition rules governing the sale of water outside the originating supplier’s geographical area.
These and other factors have driven utilities to look at their methods of production and transfer, and in addition the monitoring of their systems and infrastructure. Utilities’ understanding of the mechanics of leakage control has increased and methods are being put in place to reduce the impact of leakage on the production/delivery ratio. These methods include improving the infrastructure through district zoning, and pressure reduction and control. As a consequence, the focus on the instrumentation necessary to measure and control assets – the pipework infrastructure and the passage of the product through it – has increased.
The understanding of, and the demands on, monitoring equipment has developed to a stage where issues such as whole life costings and life cycle management are becoming increasingly important.
With flowmeters the historic trend has been towards buying the cheapest device available, with little or no thought given to overall capabilities or lifespan. This is changing, with many companies now integrating all areas of the instruments’ life cycle from selection, design and calibration, to the manufacturer’s traditional order and delivery role, and all aspects of installation, training, commissioning, verification, re-calibration and preventative and predictive maintenance. The result is a need for added tooling to be developed in association with enhancements on flowmeters themselves.
Previously, following installation, the meter was left until it either had a catastrophic failure and was replaced, or gave unreliable or unbelievable information and was ignored as a consequence. Today, however, after installation the final phase of whole life cycle management begins. The following areas are all considerations in the completion of the whole life cycle:
These, briefly, are the concepts behind the latest electromagnetic flowmeters and their associated tooling. The next stages in life cycle management are based on internet access to the electronics. Via the net it is possible that even greater amounts of data will be available, including information on spares requirements. Ordering of such items can be done automatically through the meter’s manufacturer.
These processes and ideas apply to nearly all flow measurement technologies. The tools enable utilities to manage assets more effectively by controlling each segment of the meter’s life cycle to its optimum. This will give greater confidence in the unit and enable a suitable maintenance regime to be determined, extending the lifespan of the instrument and ensuring only necessary work is undertaken.
Emphasis on life cycle management has put new demands on flowmeter manufacturers;
knowledge, preferably in electronic form, available to assist in sizing
and technology choices,
capable of 0.05% accuracy. Initial calibration provides the footprint
for all future investigations and comparisons. It is also vital for providing
reinvestment. Ideally, the manufacturer should have a policy for funding
new research and development.
value-added services are available from the manufacturer or supplier.
These include installation services, training on the configuration and
operation of the unit and commissioning facilities. Other added value
offerings can include service functions and availability of maintenance
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