Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Thermal Flow Meters

Thermal flow meter for industrial process measurement
Magnetrol TA2 thermal flow meter configured
for insertion mounting.
Image courtesy Magnetrol International 
There are numerous methods and technologies adapted for the measurement of fluid flow, each with its own set of positive attributes and limitations. Understanding the basic operating principles behind each is useful for effective selection of a technology to be applied on a specific application. One technology long employed for continuous fluid flow measurement is thermal dispersion. The operation of a thermal flow meter is as simple as placing a heated object into a moving stream. The amount of heat drawn away, or dispersed, from the heated object is a measurable quantity that is directly proportional to mass flow rate. This is similar in concept to a principle commonly observed in wind chill where someone perceives the temperature to be colder than it actually is at the moment of measurement.

One example of a thermal mass flow meter is a hot wire anemometer, with which air speed is measured via a metal wire charged with an electric current. The faster the air moves around the wire, the more the temperature of the wire will correspondingly drop. The electrical power required to keep the temperature of the wire constant is directly proportional to the flow rate of the air moving past the wire. However, thermal flow meters are inherently used to measure mass air flow and not volumetric air flow.

A common application of thermal flow meters is mass air flow measurement for combustion control, such as in engines and boilers. Maintaining fuel to air ratios in a range resulting in efficient combustion is essential to controlling fuel costs and the level of regulated emissions. Keeping combustion efficient relies on a controller’s ability to modify the combustion air mass flow rate to match the demand for fuel under changing load and input conditions. Thermal dispersion technology can be applied to gases or liquids, making the range of applications very broad.

Typically, thermal mass flow meters used in processing industries will have a flow tube or insertion probe with two temperature sensors, one which is heated and the other which is not. The heated sensor serves as the mass flow sensor, meaning it will cool at a rate directly dependent on mass flow. The purpose of the second temperature sensor is to deliver an accurate measure of fluid temperature. Various processing methods are employed to determine the degree of thermal dispersion, but all are related to the same basic principal.

One of the best applications for thermal mass flow meters is at a particular point of a flow stream, where the flow meter can be inserted or installed to measure a specific amount of fluid being used in the process, such as the amount of gas being sent to a flare. Their design simplicity and ease of production allows thermal flow meters to be very compact. Some are even coupled with built-in throttling mechanisms and other control devices, incorporating measurement and control functions into a single integrated device.

Share your flow measurement requirements and challenges with an instrumentation specialist, combining your own process knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop an effective solution.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Motion Detection For Materials Conveying Equipment

Instrument for detecting loss of motion in material conveying system
Loss of motion detector for use in material
conveying systems
Image courtesy Ronan Engineering
Processing equipment in many facilities involves moving materials along a conveyance system from one point to another. Continuous processing requires that the conveyance machinery keeps moving materials through the process. Monitoring movement at selected points along the conveyance can provide immediate notification when machine motion stops.

One motion monitoring unit from Ronan Engineering has been in the market for many years, evidence of its durability and reliability for detecting loss of motion. The X25 has a very simple operating principle. A detector head is located adjacent to a rotating shaft, spoke wheel, screw conveyor, bucket elevator, or other moving part of the equipment. It functions as a pickup with an output signal corresponding to movement of the target. A remotely located housing contains the signal processor with adjustable sensitivity and time interval controls, as well as output relays for signaling loss of movement in the targeted area.

There are a number of adaptations that can be made for installations subject to low rotational speed, high temperature, and other special conditions. The device is simple, rugged, and reliable.

More detail is provided in the data sheet included below. Share your potential applications with process measurement and control specialists. Leverage your own knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop an effective solution.



Friday, September 15, 2017

Automatic Self Cleaning Strainer for Fluid Processing

cutaway view of automatic self cleaning strainer
An automatic self-cleaning strainer is suitable for many
applications and reduces manual maintenance.
Strainers and other filtration equipment reduce the burden of targeted unwanted solids in a fluid system. Potentially damaging particulate material is trapped and held for removal from the system. Keeping fluid systems clean helps to maintain long term design performance and potentially extends the operating life of pumps, valves, and other mechanical devices in the system.

Strainers generally consist of a heavy duty housing and a contained screen with controlled opening size designed to disallow the passage of particles exceeding a targeted size. Trapped particulates remain on the screen, or within a shape created by the screen such as a basket (see basket strainer). The continuing collection of solids will eventually impede the free flow of the process fluid, so the strainer must be emptied or cleaned periodically. The frequency of cleaning is a function of the solids content of the incoming fluid and may not necessarily be a regular interval. A simple strainer, to be cleaned, requires temporary shutdown of the flow or bypass of process fluid around the strainer assembly. A duplex strainer consists of twin strainers, usually housed in a common assembly, with a diverter valve that allows the inlet flow to be directed to one of the strainers while closing off the other from the system. This allows for cleaning of one of the strainers while the other is in active service, maintaining continuous fluid flow.
A third solution provides the continuous operation of a duplex strainer, but without the need for manual cleaning. 
An automatic self-cleaning strainer, such as the MCS 500 from Eaton provides uninterrupted operation without a duplex configuration or regular manual cleaning. It's form is essentially a housed strainer with a built-in scraper blade that moves along the inlet surface of the strainer media, moving accumulated solids to a collection chamber at the bottom of the pressure housing. Automatic controls regulate the operation of the scraper and discharge valve on the purge chamber that removes the collected solids from the system. The automatic self-cleaning strainer provides a cost effective time saving solution for the filtration of compatible fluids.

More detail for the MCS 500 is provided below. Share your fluid filtration requirements and challenges with fluid processing specialists. Leverage your own process knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop effective solutions.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Little History

26 GHz radar level measurement transmitter
Pulsar® R86 Radar Level Transmitter
One of Magnetrol's recent innovations.
Some companies, through hard work, innovation, and good fortune, manage to stand the test of time and thrive for decades in a competitive environment. The manufacture of process measurement and control equipment and devices is an arena where standing still in the market is not a viable business strategy. Magnetrol has been helping process operators measure and control fluid level and flow for decades. The company recently posted an article on their own blog outlining a little of the company history as illustrated through product innovations. We include an excerpt from the blog below and encourage readers to share their fluid level and flow challenges with application specialists. Leveraging your own process knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop effective solutions.

This year marks the 85th anniversary of the founding of Magnetrol®. Since its very beginning, MAGNETROL has been a company focused on level and flow measurement innovation, designing cost-effective, cutting-edge solutions for its customers. In honor of 85 years of success, here’s a look back on some MAGNETROL highlights over the years. 
The Beginning
The history of MAGNETROL dates to 1932 as a Chicago-based manufacturer of boiler systems. The first MAGNETROL level control was born when the founding company, Schaub Systems Service, needed a controller for its boiler systems. Our innovative device was the first of its kind to accurately and safely detect the motion of liquid in boilers and feedwater systems. Soon the MAGNETROL name became synonymous with rock-solid, reliable mechanical buoyancy controls.

Mechanical buoyancy isn’t the only area where MAGNETROL has been a force for innovation. Our devices have changed the radar landscape as well. In 1998, we introduced the Eclipse® Model 705 as the first loop-powered guided wave radar (GWR) transmitter for industrial liquid level applications. The unprecedented reliability and accuracy of the ECLIPSE 705 set a new standard for radar devices.Innovation in Radar
We didn’t stop there, continuing to develop radar technology and adapt it to the needs of our customers. In 1999, MAGNETROL released the first ECLIPSE high-temperature/high-pressure probe, rated to 750 °F (400 °C). We developed an overfill-capable coaxial probe in 2000. And in 2001, we became the first company to incorporate GWR technology into a patented magnetic level indicator chamber, offering true redundant measurement.
In addition to these new developments in GWR, MAGNETROL created many pulse burst and non-contact radar devices for use in challenging process applications. We also secured our core capabilities in electronic technologies, including RF capacitance and ultrasonic.
 Looking Toward the Future
Most recently, MAGNETROL released the Pulsar® Model R86, a groundbreaking new 26GHz non-contact radar featuring a smaller wavelength for smaller antennas and improved 1mm resolution.
We continue to raise the bar for level and flow measurement. Whatever the future of industrial technology, MAGNETROL will be in the thick of it, developing the products that bring customers accuracy, reliability and peace of mind. We are a team of innovators—and innovators are always moving forward.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

I/P and E/P Transducers

variants of I/P and E/P electronic to pneumatic transducers
I/P and E/P transducers deliver a pneumatic output
proportional to an electronic input signal.
Image courtesy Rotork Instruments - Fairchild
Converting from one signal type to another is a common challenge in process control. When the application calls for conversion from an electrical signal, current or voltage, to a pneumatic signal (pressure), this calls for an I/P or E/P transducer.

I/P and E/P transducers are electro pneumatic devices that convert current or voltage input signals to a linearly proportional output pressure. These transducers are available in a wide array of configurations to accommodate almost any industrial setting or application.

The transducers pictured use, in the pilot stage, electronic closed loop feedback and a piezoceramic actuator flapper nozzle system, controlling the signal pressure of an integral pneumatic volume booster. A control diaphragm and main valve on the volume booster section controls the flow of air at the output in response to the pressure received from the pilot stage. The output pressure of the volume booster is feed into an electronic closed loop feedback arrangement to deliver accurate pressure control.

Applying the transducer is a straight forward operation, involving matching the device input and output signal capabilities with those of the application. More detail is provided in the document included below.

Share your process measurement and control challenges with instrumentation specialists, combining your process expertise with their product knowledge to produce effective solutions.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cloth Heating Jackets

cloth heat jacket installed on valve
Cloth heat jacket insulates and heats regulator valve
with included control module.
Image courtesy of BriskHeat

Industrial heating applications are numerous and varied. Heating requirements can range from freeze protection to precise maintenance of process temperature in piping, equipment, or vessels. Two commonly employed heating sources are electric resistance heaters and plant steam. While each has certain advantages, steam may not always be available or practical. Electric heat offers a number of positive attributes.

  • Ease of design and installation
  • Precise control
  • Uniform heating across surfaces
  • Low maintenance requirement
  • Portability
  • Economical to purchase and install
  • Wide array of shapes, sizes, and configurations
  • Standard and custom products for every application
Cloth heating jackets are one of many electric heater variants. Formed to fit specific valves, fittings, or other items, these reusable heaters are comprised of an exterior of rugged fabric, a layer of thermal insulation, a heating blanket, and an electrical connection point or fitting. Hook and loop fasteners facilitate the unwrapping or opening of the jacket to allow for installation and removal. The surface remains cool to the touch for most applications. Control can be provided by any type of temperature controller, with prewired options available for inclusion with the heating jacket.

More detail is provided in the document included below. Share your process heating requirements with application specialists, combining your own process knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop effective solutions.



Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Load Cells for Industrial Applications

One of many styles of load cells
Load cells - One of many styles used throughout
process measurement applications,
Image courtesy of  Minebea-Intec
In industrial application of process measurement and control, principles of the physical sciences are combined with technology and engineering to create devices essential to modern high speed, high accuracy system operation. Years of research, development, and the forward march of humanity’s quest for scientific knowledge and understanding yields packaged devices for process measurement that are easily applied by system designer and operators.

Load cells are the key components applied to weighing component or processed materials in modern industrial operations. Load cells are utilized throughout many industries related to process management, or just simple weighing operations. In application, a load cell can be adapted for measurement of items from the very small to the very large.

In essence, a load cell is a measurement tool which functions as a transducer, predictably converting force into a unit of measurable electrical output. While many types of load cells are available, one popular cell in multiple industries is a strain gauge based cell. Strain gauge cells typically function with an accuracy range between 0.03% and 0.25%. Pneumatically based load cells are ideal for situations requiring intrinsic safety and optimal hygiene. For locations without a power grid, there are even hydraulic load cells, which function without need for a power supply. These different types of load cells follow the same principle of operation: a force acts upon the cell (typically the weight of material or an object) which is then returned as a value. Processing the value yields an indication of weight in engineering units.

For strain gauge cells, deformation is the applied operational principal, where extremely small amounts of deformation, directly related to the stress or strain being applied to the cell, are output as an electrical signal with value proportional to the load applied to the cell. The operating principle allows for development of devices delivering accurate, precise measurements of a wide range of industrial products.

Load cell advantages include their longevity, accuracy, and adaptability to many applications, all of which contribute to their usefulness in so many industries and applications. A common place to find a strain gauge load cell in use is off a causeway on a major highway at a truck weigh station. Through innovation, load cells have been incorporated in an efficient measuring system able to weigh trucks passing through the station, without having each stop. Aircraft can be weighed on platform scales which utilize load cells, and even trains can be weighed by taking advantage of the robust and dependable nature of the transducers.

Thanks to their widespread incorporation and the sequential evolution of technology, load cells are a fantastically useful tool in process measurement and control. Share your process weighing challenges with application experts, combining your own process expertise with their product knowledge to develop an effective solution.