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Non-intrusive Flow Measurement and Process Analytics Solutions in Chemical Plants
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I think we can safely say that ultrasonic flowmeters have finally met their potential. I have taken more than 600 readings with the FLEXIM portable meter, and my success rate is 99.8 percent; and that includes pipes containing acids, water, gasses, and slurries at several hundred degrees. At the end of the day, I collect all the data dumps from the built-in data logger and export it to my spread sheet program.
Now I can accurately put our settings exactly where the factory recommends for optimum performance. But there’s more to it than that. Since our pumps have frequency drives, we can stop running them at full speed. Before the FLEXIM meters, we used butterfly valves and gate valves to back down flow. Now I’m able turn every valve wide open and program the frequency drive to run at the optimum speed to deliver the cooling water.
We now have 20 FLEXIM PIOX ultrasound meters performing well and sending data back in real time. They have improved safety, accuracy and production. I’m pleased at how non-intrusive metering makes my job easier and the plant more efficient by reducing downtime. Before, we couldn’t repair acid leaks on the run because we couldn’t operate without a concentration meter.
It soon became apparent that clamp-on ultrasonic metering was the way to go. I researched all of the meters available and narrowed it down to FLEXIM. We had a few meters in for demonstrations and it won out because it had the features we needed, including a 16-hour battery. It was also the most intuitive and fast to install.
As the building efficiencies continue we also utilize FLEXIM energy meters to upgrade old or non-existent submetering throughout the building. These meters have proven reliable and are perfect for retrofit installations because they are nonintrusive and eliminate the need to cut into piping for installation.
We had a serious balancing issue. Our measurements showed we were delivering significantly more water than we were taking from our wells. The problem was the magnetic flowmeters, due to the high mineral content the probes were becoming fouled degrading the signal and reporting lower than actual flows. We found FLEXIM and after we proved through testing that the meter was 1% accurate we installed 35 meters on our most problematic well measurements.
We installed a FLEXIM HPI meter for flow and interface detection to improve our operations. We were losing money because we could not detect the exact moment when the product arrived from the barge so that we could divert it to the right tank. The HPI meter was successful in exactly identifying both of the interfaces. That information allowed us to minimize the amount of number two that was downgraded. The meter also provided accurate real-time rate and total volume of product and cutter movements. That saved us between 1,500 and 2,000 barrels which translates into $30,000 in savings. That should translate to an annual savings of $750,000.
We searched for a clamp on meter to measure 400˚F high temperature hot water. We found FLEXIM that was rated to 750˚F and put the first meter on our main line. We found out that the steam company was not billing us correctly, it turned out that the FLEXIM had a much better turndown than the other meter and was more accurate on low flow. Now we are completing most of our buildings with FLEXIM meters for our performance contract.
We needed flow measurement for pipeline leak detection. I knew I wanted a flowmeter that was nonintrusive and highly accurate with a solid operational history to communicate to our control system. We selected FLEXIM's 4-path meter for this highly sensitive flow measurement. The accuracy has met Buckeye’s needs and satisfied the Coast Guard’s oversight requirement during marine discharge activities. We have been up and operating for more than a year and there have been no issues. One nice thing about the ultrasonics is that if there is an issue, they are easy to access to make any changes. But, since there are no moving parts, I don’t see any issues in the future.
We invested in 3 different types of GE ultrasonic meters, insertion and clamp-on. We had issues and paid for GE technicians to get these meters working. My company decided to not throw any more money at the GE meters and we just abandoned them all together. We had 8 of them at one facility and 5 of them at the other. Once we found FLEXIM, we put it right beside the GE meters and tested it for 1 yr. I can honestly tell you I've never had to come back to it due do flows errors. We now have them all over our three facilities. I put these FLEXIM meters on everything.
We always specify FLEXIM meters because their accuracy is 1% of rate backed up with a calibration certificate. More importantly they maintain their accuracy at low flow rates. FLEXIM meters capture low flow rates better than any meter I have encountered. If the flow rates aren’t detected you are giving away free energy.
Utilizing clamp-on ultrasonic [FLEXIM] meters really improved our profitability. I was surprised the meters handled just about everything we threw at them. They were far more robust and accurate than I thought they would be. This is a capability every midstream operations manager should have.
FLEXIM is selected as the preferred meter; this predicated on investigations including technology search, market survey, technology familiarization, unit familiarization, expected accuracy analysis, and actual field testing. Independent testing by KSC and CEESI laboratories confirms the 1% accuracy specification of FLEXIM.
Now that, with FLEXIM, the tube and flow problems on the unit have been resolved, we plan to move forward with a similar solution for a sister unit. We're sure with what we've learned, we will be able to get accurate flow readings right away.
The FLEXIM meter we chose was portable and worked on all the pipe sizes. It also measured slow flows very accurately. We've been going to each lateral and totaling the flow over a particular period of time. Then we compared that to the tool's mass flow meters. When we compared the performance to our own buildings flowmeters, the FLEXIM meter was quite accurate.
We decided to put one [FLEXIM] meter on our chemistry building, which had been a problem for us. We agreed to a trial period on both chilled and hot water that reached up to 350°F. The measurements were within one percent with no drift. It finally gave us accurate data on that building that we had been lacking. Given that success, we began replacing our differential flow meters with the ultrasonics. We now have a total of about 100 ultrasonic meters monitoring our HVAC flow and temperature and reporting to our dashboard/BAS system. We recently added 70 new meters for domestic water, and we continue to expand building by building.
I proposed another FLEXIM meter for the hot water line. After our experience with the FLEXIM portable, I had no problem getting approval to purchase a permanent clamp-on FLEXIM liquid meter to measure flow and temperatures to and from the plant.
The FLEXIM Meters worked out well for SVTC. They were not as close to capacity as they thought. Replacing aging equipment and perform upgrades and retrofits was going to be expensive, but there was no need. This project more than paid for itself.
The installation of the meters went smoothly. They have provided consistent, reliable data. In the future, the data will be used by the process control and automation system to not only monitor, but possibly control the flow and optimize the process.
The differential meter was a lot more noisy; it read higher flow than the FLEXIM. And the measurements would drop over time as it plugged. The ultrasonic gave us good, flat readings with minimal noise. For three months we tested it and then installed it permanently. It is now one of the plant’s safety interlocks and it is still giving accurate, noise-free measurements. And we don’t have to take it out and clean it!