Dirty water flow meter

Paul Boughton

Graphoidal Developments has established itself at the forefront of designing and manufacturing the most advanced lubrication and coating systems for the glass container and tableware industries.

Their expertise is in precise pumping, control of mixing, dosing and spraying of the lubricants and coatings which form a vital part of the glass production process, both in hot end and cold end areas. Graphoidal Developments first started using Titan's turbine flowmeters more than 20 years ago. They install flowmeters in their water lines to monitor the application of the coolant to the shears which are used to cut semi-molten glass in bottle making machines. The accurate application of a lubricant and coolant is critical to the reliability of the whole machine.

Initial installations of Graphoidal machines in Europe, fitted with Titan flowmeters, proved very reliable. However as the success of the Graphoidal machines spread worldwide a flow monitoring problem became apparent. Older glass bottle making plants often had steel piping which rusted. The deposition of rust in the water coolant lines not only abraded the machines bearings but also rendered the turbine flowmeters inaccurate. Graphoidal recognised in some locations a regular supply of clean potable water was not possible and excessive filtering (to remove rust) with the corresponding pressure drop and reduced service intervals were not options.

As a result - Graphoidal approached Titan Enterprises to develop an alternative flowmeter that would be immune to the ‘dirty water’ problem, could operate over a wide dynamic flow range, had identical electronic outputs and would fit into the same space as the existing turbine flowmeter. It became apparent that Titan’s proprietary Atrato ultrasonic flowmeter technology offered a solution but required modification to fit in the desired space and reduction of the sophisticated electronics to help meet target unit prices.

Titan Enterprises started with a blank sheet of paper and used a bit of lateral thinking to solve the problem.  The pipe connections on Graphoidal machines were fixed so Titan chose to turn the Atrato flowmeter sensing element to be 90° to the fluid path with a manifold to make the connections.  Unfortunately this made the meter just too big for the available cabinet space. Titan then experimented with bending the flow passage around 180° whilst still carrying the ultrasound. Using unique algorithms this technique proved to be successful so the sensors could be placed on the manifold and both the flow and the ultrasonic signals being bent around a 28mm diameter 180° arc.

In addition the flowmeter electronics were re-designed to match the customer’s specification and any extraneous functions not required by Graphoidal machines eliminated. The closure for the housing was made into a robust plastic cover to keep the costs down.

While the resulting product is more expensive than the turbine flowmeter it replaced its advantages far outweigh the drawbacks.  Each meter has an identical ‘K’ factor so no individual calibration of a Graphoidal machines PLC is required.  

A single ultrasonic flowmeter is able to cover multiple flow ranges enabling reduced inventory to be held by Graphoidal.  As the Atrato ultrasonic flowmeter has no moving parts, there are no parts to wear out due to rust abrasion. The flowmeter has proven itself highly reliable, even in some of the former troublesome plants, so far fewer call outs for faulty measurement systems due to inferior water supplies have been required.  Consequently Graphoidal’s customers are happy and the company’s reputation has further improved within the industry.

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