Flow measurement - an exacting science

23rd Jan 2023
by Sam Brown

Getting a reliable supplier for your machined components for flow measurement equipment can be challenging. There are some very specific requirements that these components must have in order for the final product to work consistently and effectively, and not every machining supplier is set up to meet them. 

 

Applications and instrumentation

Let’s look at some of the applications for flow measurement technology. One is leak detection, be that pipes losing water, or gasses being omitted into the atmosphere. Others include flow analysis to identify whether there are contaminants within a fluid, identification of the fluid itself, or identification of the particulates within it, for example.

Depending on the exact purpose of the flow analysis equipment and the technology used to interpret the data, there are many, many differences in how the instruments are designed. But when it comes to the machined components that make up flow measurement equipment, there are some commonalities that we see across all applications, be it flow meter for liquid or gas, leak detection or particle analysis, fluid identification or contaminant investigation.

 

Machining requirements

When we work with customers who operate in this area, the most common requirement is for there to be a better than the norm surface finish, but most importantly, absolutely no burrs as a result of the machining process. 

Brass manifold

Many flow measurement systems will use components that will have multiple intersecting holes. These holes allow the flow of liquid or gas, but also allow the measurement system to function. The liquid or gas will flow through the tubes within the component, and sensors will gather data that is then transmitted back to a receiver to be interpreted. If there are burrs, debris, swarf or other surface imperfections within these tubes or holes, the flow of liquid or gas will be disturbed, resulting in false data and an incorrect result.

There is the additional risk of burrs becoming dislodged, which can cause further issues such as blocking valves or damaging seals within the equipment. Depending on where the damage occurs, this can be very expensive to fix. 

Another machining requirement is to ensure that components are free from any coolant, oil, or other contaminants. 

Coolant on machine

On the face of it, burr-free, clean components shouldn’t be too much to ask of a machining company. But when the component quality impacts the performance of the final instrument, reputations are at stake. Achieving a pristine, burr-free, ultrasonically-cleaned component, manufactured to the drawing, once, is generally fine. But achieving it time after time, over thousands or hundreds of thousands of components – that can be where people run in to trouble.

And with this sort of equipment, we’re not talking a simple deburr and give it a quick rub clean. These components have complex internal structures with multiple cross holes, and this is where the likelihood of burrs is high. Getting inside these structures to deburr and clean is tricky, needs specialist equipment and requires skilled experts with plenty of experience. 

Components being removed from the ultrasonic cleaner

At Penta, we are well set up to serve this industry. We have a dedicated, skilled deburring resource for managing those hard-to-reach intersecting holes, on-site rumbling capability for a pristine surface finish, and ultrasonic cleaners to ensure all machining residue is removed, even within complex internal structures. On top of that, our robust manufacturing processes and detailed inspection regime means that we can be confident of achieving the necessary quality levels, every time. 

Rumbler

Frequently we find that our customers, including those working in fluid measurement, do not inspect every component we deliver, just a sample. At the start of every quote, we agree the inspection requirements and identify what FAIRs or other certification is required. Our dedicated inspectors utilise a range of equipment, including CMM, shadowgraph, and gauges to ensure we are hitting quality requirements. Over time, we’ve proved our systems work, and our customers trust our quality across all the components we make. 

Component being inspected on CMM

At Penta, we want to be the manufacturing supplier you can forget about. Rely on Penta and your components will arrive, on time, to drawing, time after time. It’s thanks to our robust processes and dedication to our three Cs across the business. We communicate well. We take care at every stage. We are consistent in our service.

If you need a manufacturing company you can forget about, get in touch with one of our estimators to find out more and discuss your project