The first step to optimizing compressed air systems within an industrial facility is to get a known baseline. To do so, utilizing a digital flowmeter is an ideal solution that will easily install onto a hard pipe that will give live readouts of the compressed air usage for the line it is installed on. There is also an additional feature that we offer on the Digital Flowmeters that can help further the understanding of the compressed air demands within a facility.
The Pressure Sensing Digital Flowmeters are available from 2″ Sched. 40 Iron Pipe up to 8″ Sched. 40 Iron Pipe. As well as 2″ to 4″ Copper pipe. These will read out and with the additional Data Logger or Wireless Capability options record the information. When coupled with the wireless capability an alarm can be set for pressure drops that give live updates on the system as well as permits data review to see trends throughout the day of the system.
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. A scenario similar to this was the cause of an entire production line shut down nearly every day of the week for a local facility until they installed flowmeters and were able to narrow the demand location down to a filter baghouse with a faulty control for the cleaning cycle.
If you would like to discuss the best digital flowmeter for your system and to better understand the benefits of pressure sensing, please contact us.
“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.
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 capability is an option for EXAIR’s Digital Flowmeter’s. It is the efficient way to monitor your compressed air consumption wirelessly utilizing the ZigBee® mesh network. This is accomplished by a module located within the meter that transmits data to an ethernet connected gateway. Each meter has a range up to 100 feet (30 meters), however the ZigBee mesh network protocol is very versatile as it allows data to also be transmitted from meter to meter, effectively extending the distance over which the system can operate. So large facilities with great distances to cover are not a problem.
The Digital Flowmeter with Wireless Capability is offered in a kit with a wireless output flow meter, wireless to ethernet gateway, drill guide, power supplies for each component, and ethernet cable for gateway connectivity. These kits are best suited for new installations. They are also available without a gateway if you are simply adding an additional meter to a pre-existing Gateway in your plant. EXAIR simplifies this process by configuring each gateway to communicate with the flowmeter to provide the necessary communication for monitoring your system. Models from 1/2″ to 4″ iron pipe are in stock. 5″, 6″ iron pipe, copper pipe ranging from 3/4″ to 4″ diameter and aluminum pipe from 25mm to 101mm diameter are available with short lead time as a special product offering. Each digital flowmeter is calibrated for the pipe size to which it is mounted and the large digital display shows air use in either SCFM or Cubic Meters per Hour.
Setting up the EXAIR Digital Flow Meter with Wireless Capability is super easy. After the meter is installed download the graphing software from our website and install on your computer. There is also a video tutorial posted in the previous blog from Tyler Daniel, Video Blog: EXAIR’s New Wireless Digital Flowmeter Installation.
The Digital Flowmeter with Wireless Capability is designed for permanent or temporary mounting to the pipe. It requires the user to drill two small holes through the pipe using the optional drill guide which includes the drill bit and locating fixture. The two flow sensing probes of the flowmeter are inserted into these holes. The unit seals to the pipe once the clamps are tightened. No cutting, welding, adjustments or calibration are needed, ever! If the unit needs to be removed, blocking rings are available for the 1/2″ to 4″ iron pipe sizes from stock with other sizes available on short lead time as special orders.
EXAIR’s Digital Flow Meter offers an easy way to measure, monitor and record compressed air consumption. The Digital display shows the current amount of compressed air flow, allowing for tracking to identify costly leaks and/or inefficient air users.
How exactly does the Digital Flow Meter work? The unit falls under the category of Thermal Mass or Thermal Dispersion type flow meters. Below shows the backside of a unit.
Thermal mass flow meters have the advantage of using a simple method of measuring flow without causing a significant pressure drop. The EXAIR units have (2) probes that are inserted through the pipe wall and into the air flow. Each of the probes has a resistance temperature detector (RTD.) One of the probes measures the temperature of the air flow. The other probe is heated to maintain a preset temperature difference from the temperature measured by the first probe. The faster the air flow, the more heat that is required to keep the second probe at the prescribed temperature. From Heat Transfer principles, the heat energy input required to maintain the preset temperature is based on the mass velocity of the air. Using basic physical properties for compressed air, the volumetric rate can be determined (SCFM), and displayed.
It is important to note that the compressed air should be filtered to remove oils, and dried to remove water, as these liquids have different physical properties from air, and will cause erroneous readings.
If you have any questions about the Digital Flow Meter or any of the EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.