Aug 05, 2008

Flowmeter Foresight

As with most technology in this industry, flowmeters are changing rapidly. New flow-meters on the market are equipped with wireless capabilities rather than mechnanical technology.

Clare Pierson, associate editor for WWD, spoke with Jim Caruso, a flowmeter specialist with Hach Co., for insight as to why this technology is changing, the impact it will have on the industry and what is to come in the future.

Clare Pierson: Is there still a market for traditional flowmeters (i.e., those that rely on mechanical technologies)?

Jim Caruso: Traditional flowmeters—those that rely on mechanical technologies—are a market in decline. The newer technologies are proving to be more accurate, more reliable and— specifically speaking of the non-contact technologies—less maintenance.

Pierson: What do you foresee for the future of the flowmeter market? Where are consumer preferences headed, and what kind of new technology is coming?

Caruso: There is a definite trend toward wireless data. Wireless data is such a logical evolution of the flowmeter. Data can either be pushed through the Internet or pulled by dial-up and you can be sitting at your local coffee shop sipping a latte and also be monitoring a storm water event miles away. Having the data delivered to your computer in what is essentially real time has so many benefits.

Besides the example I gave before, you will know the status of your collection system all the time. You can set alarms to monitor issues like combined sewer overflows, high level alarms, battery status and practically anything else you would want to keep tabs on. And of course, there are the monetary and safety benefits of not having to send a crew out to stop traffic and perform confined space entry to collect data the old-fashioned way.

Pierson: When selecting new flowmeters, what guidelines should potential users follow?

Caruso: Select a flowmeter appropriate for your application. Too often I hear of instances where people are trying to use a flowmeter in an application it was not designed for. For example, you should not use an ultrasonic Doppler sensor in clean water, nor should you use a paddle wheel at the influent of a wastewater treatment plant.

It goes even deeper than that, really. Every site has its own signature and quirks. Some meters are better than others at working in a wide range of site conditions. Bottom line is that I would not recommend buying a flowmeter through a catalog unless you know what you are doing. Contact a vendor rep, schedule a site evaluation or, at a minimum, discuss it with an expert on the phone.

Pierson: How do you see the changes in the water/wastewater industry—increased use of membrane, new desal technologies and the need for improved infrastructure—affecting demand for flowmeters or new flowmeter technology?

Caruso: Most everyone is concerned about water supplies and water quality. Water is a natural resource that is increasing in value; therefore, it makes sense that we understand where it is coming from, where it is going to and how much of it is being used. Flowmeters will continue to play an important and expanding role in water management.

Pierson: Since Marsh McBirney introduced its Data Delivery Services feature for flowmeters, how have customers responded to it?

Caruso: Data Delivery Services (DDS) is a new approach to flow monitoring. For a small monthly fee, customers have their data delivered directly to a secure website. There is no equipment to buy or maintenance costs whatsoever. The response from DDS customers has been positive. Customers appreciate the simplicity, reliability and convenience of this product.

Jim Caruso is product application specialist for Hach Co. Caruso can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].

About the author

Clare Pierson is associate editor for Water & Wastes Digest. Pierson can be reached at 847.391.1012 or by e-mail at [email protected].