Compressed Air Digital Flow Meters Monitor Your System Demand

In the times we live in, efficiency is key. To offset the rising costs of goods, services, and energy we must be purposeful in lowering costs wherever we can. Every company has large utility expenses such as electricity, water, gas, sewer, waste, and recycling. Many companies have policies and systems in place to help control these expenses. One major utility that gets overlooked is your compressed air. Many companies just loop this expense into the gas and or electricity funnel and move on. But that can be a costly mistake. Assuming you utilize compressed air in your facility, it is most likely your 3rd-4th highest utility expense. The good news is there are many ways to make this utility much more efficient.

We have several EXAIR blogs on how to improve your compressed air efficiency from mitigating leaks, sizing pipe properly, flow control, pressure regulators, engineered nozzles and tools, and even receiver tanks. These are all very effective ways to reduce this expense. There is another tool that I would like to share with you; our Digital Flow Meters. What they are, how they work, and how they can save you money…

With a rough cost of $0.25 per 1000 SCFM, wouldn’t it be nice to know how many SCFM you are using? (Please click here for a great blog on how to calculate your SCFM cost) More importantly how much air are you wasting… Your compressor information already tells you how much air it is producing and with EXAIR’s Digital Flowmeter, you will know the exact amount of compressed air that is being used, making it very easy to identify loss. These losses are primarily found in leaks or inefficient air products. A best practice is to install one of these on each leg of the air distribution system and monitor and and benchmark the compressed air usage.

EXAIR Digital Flowmeter

The EXAIR Flowmeters work by measuring the temperature differential between two probes that are inserted into the compressed air pipes. One probe is kept warmer than the other, and the mass flow rate is determined by the amount of heat required to maintain the temperature differential. The flow rate, or SCFM is displayed on the large digital display

To install the Flowmeters, you will drill 2 holes into your pipe for the probes. Included with the meter is the drill bit and the Drill Guide to quickly install the meter. We have these available in many sizes from 1/2″ to 4″ iron pipe, We also offer these for Copper Pipes, and can make / calibrate them for many others, we will just need the information.

In addition to our standard version we offer several upgrades. One is a Data Logging version. You can download our software and then set the data logging to record from once a second for about 9 hours of data to twice a day for over 2 years worth of data. You simply plug the Data Log Stick this into your computer, download and repeat.

We also offer a wireless option that will run through a ZigBee mesh Network. A radio module within each meter transmits data to an ethernet connected gateway. You can also piggyback meter to meter to extend the range for this wireless solution. Each meter has a range of about 100 feet.

Many people ask if they have to shut down their system to install the Flowmeters. Understanding that this could cause systemic issues, we have a Hot Tap option that will allow you to install while the pipe is still under pressure. It incorporates 2 valves that the probes pass through as well as a muffler that collects the chips from the drilling process. This is only available on the 2″ or larger units.

Speaking of pressure, we also offer a Pressure Sensing Digital flow meter. On this, there is a pressure sensor that is mounted between the two flow sensor probes. The pressure is sent via a second milliamp output. The display can be configured to show either pressure or flow. You can set this to send alarms if the pressure falls under 50 psi. Also only available on 2″ pipes and above.

Finally, we also offer Block Off Rings. These are simply rings to block off holes where the flowmeter was, in case you need to use the same one in a different location.

Please fee free to reach out with any questions, or for more information. Let us help you save air and money…

Thank you for stopping by,

Brian Wages

Application Engineer

EXAIR Corporation
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Video Blog: How-to Install EXAIR’s Hot Tap Digital Flowmeters

The Hot Tap Digital Flowmeters can be installed on pressurized compressed air systems and pipes. This avoids the downtime necessary to depressurize the compressed air system and keeps your processes up and running.

Watch the video below to learn how simple it is to install EXAIR’s Hot Tap Digital Flowmeters.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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EXAIR Digital Flow Meters

A topic that we’ve talked about here on the EXAIR blog discusses the costs of compressed air and how to use it more efficiently. How can you determine the costs of your compressed air? The first step you’ll need to take is to put a number to how much compressed air you are currently using. In order to do that you’ll need a measurement tool such as the EXAIR Digital Flowmeter.

EXAIR Digital Flow Meters

The Digital Flowmeter is available from stock for use on Schedule 40 pipe with sizes ranging from ½”-4” I.D. Sizes up to 8” for Schedule 40 and ¾”-4” for copper pipe are also available. Metric sizes are also available for 25mm, 40mm, 50mm, 63mm, 76mm, and 101mm. With a digital readout display, it’s easy to accurately monitor your compressed air usage throughout the facility. Creating a baseline of your usage will allow you to understand your compressed air demand, identify costly leaks, and replace inefficient air products.

The Digital Flowmeter installs in minutes with help from a drill guide and locating fixture to assist in mounting the Digital Flowmeter to the pipe. Two flow sensing probes are inserted into the drilled holes in the pipe. The meter then seals to the pipe once tightened. There is no need to cut, weld, or do any calibration once it is installed. With blocking rings also available, installation can be permanent or temporary. Below is a easy to follow video on how to install EXAIR’s Digital Flow Meter!

The newest addition to this product line is the Digital Flowmeter with wireless capability. Using a ZigBee® mesh network protocol, data is transmitted to an Ethernet connected gateway. This allows you to mount the Digital Flowmeter in areas that you may not be able to easily access and wirelessly monitor and graph the usage with the EXAIR Logger software. Take a peek at this video blog for a demonstration of the use of a wireless Digital Flowmeter software to compare an open pipe to an engineered Air Nozzle.

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Wireless output gives you the freedom to track air usage data from any computer!

In addition to communicating wirelessly with the gateway, the Digital Flowmeters can “piggyback” off of each other to extend their range. Each meter has a range of 100’. Using multiple Digital Flowmeters within the same ZigBee® mesh network, data can be passed from meter to meter to extend the distance over which the meters can operate. These can be installed on each major leg of your compressed air system to continuously monitor usage throughout the facility.

If you’d rather go with a hard-wired data collection method, the Digital Flowmeter is also available with a USB Data Logger. Simply remove the Data Logger from the Digital Flowmeter and connect it to the USB port of your computer. The data can then be viewed directly in the accompanying software or exported into Microsoft Excel.

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Add a Data Logger for easy Value Tracking

Two special flow meter options we now offer are the Pressure Sensing Digital Flowmeters, and the Hot Tap Digital Flowmeters!

Pressure Sensing Digital Flowmeters help by generating a pressure and consumption profile of a system can help to pinpoint energy wasters such as timer-based drains that are dumping every hour versus level based drains that only open when needed. Hot Tap Digital Flowmeters offer a way to install a flow meter on a pipe that is currently under pressure. It uses a series of valves and mufflers to maintain a safe working environment for the installer.

If you’d like to get a clear view of your compressed air usage, give us a call. An Application Engineer will be happy to work with you and get the proper Digital Flowmeters installed in your facility!

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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EXAIR Digital Flowmeters With Wireless Capability

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure” is a well-known axiom in engineering & process improvement circles.  We talk to callers every day who are keen on conserving compressed air use in their facilities by making a few tweaks, considering a complete overhaul, or more often, some point in between.  Bottom line (literally) is, compressed air isn’t cheap, so small gains in efficiency can add up.  And large gains can be complete game-changers…following our Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System has resulted in users being able to shut down 50 and 100 HP air compressors, saving thousands of dollar A MONTH in operating costs.

Step #1 is measurement, and that’s where the EXAIR Digital Flowmeter comes in.  They’re easy to install, highly accurate, extremely reliable, and available for just about any size pipe used for compressed air distribution.  They can output a 4-20mA signal straight from their PCB board, or serial comms (RS485) through an optional control board.  USB Data Loggers and Summing Remote Displays have proven to be value-added accessories for data management as well.

Summing Remote Display (left) for remote indication and totalizing data. USB Data Logger takes data from the Digital Flowmeter to your computer and outputs to its own software (shown above) or Microsoft Excel.

If you want to go wireless, we can do that too: using ZigBee mesh network protocol, a radio module is installed in the Digital Flowmeter with wireless gateway to transmit data to an Ethernet connected gateway.  The transmitting range is 100 ft (30 meters,) and the data can be passed from one radio module to another, allowing for multiple Digital Flowmeter installations to extend the distance over which they can communicate with the computer you’re using for central monitoring.  Advantages include:

  • Wireless monitoring of EXAIR Digital Flowmeters throughout your plant.
  • Prevents unwanted joining upon the network.
  • Monitoring software is included at no extra charge.
  • Measures & transmits both current air usage, and cumulative air usage data.
  • 128 bit encryption for wireless transmissions.
  • Comes configured & programmed, out of the box, available for installation on 1/2″ to 4″ SCH40 iron pipe, or 3/4″ to 4″ Type L copper pipe.

Digital Flowmeter w/ Wireless Capability, Gateway, and Drill Guide Kit

If you’d like to find out more about how easy it is to measure, manage, and optimize your compressed air usage, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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