Welcome to the Autumn 2017 issue of fLowdown - a quarterly Newsletter from Titan Enterprises Ltd. written to keep you informed about the latest technological developments, applications advances and breaking news in the field of flow measurement.

If a particular feature interests you, do not hesitate to contact us or follow the link for further information. We welcome your feedback.

Trevor Forster (Managing Director)


Technical Tip

Trevor Forster is Managing Director of Titan Enterprises. His experience in fluid handling dates back to the mid 1960's when he started working on rotating seals and flowmeter design for third party clients. Trevor draws upon over 40 years of using innovative design and production techniques to produce elegant flow metering solutions for organisations around the globe.
In this issue - Trevor offers you useful technical tips on:

When is the right time to protect your technological development intellectual property?

A few years ago, Titan Enterprises filed a patent application for some new ultrasound technology we had been developing over the previous 12 months. On examination by the patent authority it transpired that someone else had the exact same idea and had filed some three months before us. Annoyingly this competitive filing was nine months after we had our first thoughts and six months after our first successful experiments. There were two valuable lessons here:

1. File your ideas as soon as possible.

2. Do not waste time in developing a completely viable idea before protecting the intellectual property behind the innovation.

As a consequence of this setback we had to revisit what we wished to achieve with our ring technology development. This project involved development of an ultrasonic device which was tolerant to variations in tube diameters due to the material, temperature or pressure. Our new idea was to section the device annulus into several segments which where independently acoustically coupled to the pipe but joined electronically. The benefit of this innovation is that it would provide us with a "flexible" crystal which can accommodate variations in the tube diameter as well as having a consistent acoustic connection.

Our developmental options were to make drawings, get the specially shaped crystals manufactured and then perform the tests. Alternatively we chose to get some miniature diamond cutting saws with appropriate boring burrs and make our own segmented crystals from existing larger crystals which we use on another ultrasonic meter. This enabled us to prototype and test our idea much more quickly.

The initial tests on the new device were extremely promising which gave us sufficient confidence to file our patent application while more accurate components were being manufactured and tested. This technology has formed the basis of our soon to be released Metraflow ultra-pure flowmeter and our developments with a new 1350 Bar flow device.

The initial disappointment was a valuable lesson in getting intellectual property registered as quickly as possible especially with any rapidly developing technology.

To register to receive information on the Metraflow ultra-pure flowmeter please click here.

Problem Solved

In this feature, we look to bring you a further example of a customer application solved by a flowmeter development by Titan Enterprises.

20+ years, 600,000 meters and counting

In this issue we report on how Titan Enterprises has established a long-standing working relationship with Vianet (formerly Brulines) for the supply of beer flowmeters. During the last 20 year period we have delivered, and Vianet has installed, over 600,000 of these devices in various guises.

Brulines, was formed in 1993 with the intention of providing pub chain owners with data on their bar activity via an electronic point of sale (EPOS) system. After trialling several other flowmeters, the company sought a solution to resolve flowmeter bearing lifespan problems and the unreliability of the optical detection method.

Following a collaborative approach to developing the solutions needed for Vianet’s customer base, Titan Enterprises proposed an adapted version of its 800-series turbine flowmeter as the design included durable sapphire bearings proven reliable for many thousand hours operation, and a Hall effect detector which was not subject to problems with discolouration inside the pipe. After successful tests, a trial order for 400 units was placed in 1997, which after the subsequent field trials, was followed by an order for >5000 meters which were all delivered to the clients required timescales

800-series flowmeter (2017 version).

To ensure the flowmeter was 'fit for purpose', Titan additionally adapted the cable type as well as the body and increased the length to 10 metres. These adaptions enabled Brulines installations to be maintained in beer cellars with differing wire runs to the control panel without any junction boxes.

With the widespread reliability of this product, Vianet turned again to Titan Enterprises in 1999 to develop for them an "intelligent" flowmeter (IFM) for their enhanced iDraught retail product. The specification for the IFM required that it should additionally measure temperature as well as determining the type of fluid in the line to detect line cleaning cycles which are essential for the dispense of a good pint.

At the time, Titan did not have the technology to provide sensing electronics at a reasonable price so we produced a revised version of the beer flowmeter with the capability of being matched to a PCB designed, manufactured and installed by a third party.

After trialling and testing, this new IFM was introduced in June 2000 and supplied to Vianet at the rate of up to 3500 units a week. Mark Fewster, product manager at Vianet commented "Titan's supply chain has always delivered to our quality and timescale needs".

Since this first IFM introduction, close collaboration between the 2 parties has resulted in 5 iterations of the product with revised features as end user requirements have evolved.

Drawing upon this close working relationship, over a long period of time, Titan continue to work with Vianet on new solutions and offerings as Vianet’s customer offering develops.

Beer meter.

Latest IFM.

For further information on the 800-series flowmeters please click here.

Flow Technology Spotlight

In this issue of fLowdown we look at why oval gear meters are often the flow technology chosen for the measurement of viscous liquids.

Titan Enterprises was founded on the belief that the market required a high quality reasonably priced mini-turbine flowmeter. This proved to be correct but we quickly ran into problems with attempting to meter more viscous fluids as these turbine flowmeters are Reynolds number dependant. We were therefore forced into looking at alternative low cost, high viscosity flow technologies, but which one? As this was before the advent of our low-flow Atrato ultrasonic flowmeter technology it had to be a mechanical meter.

Below are some of the flow technologies we considered and why we ended up developing an oval gear flowmeter which offered low pressure drop, ease of high volume manufacture, good chemical resistance and a range of detector options.

Nutating disc:

This technique is often used in domestic water meters. Nutating disc flowmeters use a flying saucer or Saturn shaped measuring element, with a slot in the disc and a divider to prevent rotation, wobbling around a circular path. The motion of the nutating disc is up and down but because the spindle is constrained to a small orbit the cyclical movement is circular. It is not a true positive displacement device as there is always clearance around the disc and between the divider plate. In this type of flowmeter there are a lot of rubbing/bearing surfaces which have to maintain their low friction characteristics. The low flow capability is limited, therefore not the type of meter we wanted.

Oscillating piston:

Oscillating piston flowmeters are in some ways similar to nutating disc meters but the piston in constrained in one plane and it is therefore more efficient. Oscillating piston meters also rely on a lot of sliding surfaces and have a fairly large constant leak path. This technique can be used for some low flow viscous fluid applications.

Sliding vane:

This technique uses a rotating hub in an offset orbit in a round chamber. In the hub are a number of spring loaded vanes. These slide in and out as the hub rotates so trapping a volume of liquid and transferring it from the inlet to the outlet. Sliding vane flowmeters can be very accurate but have even more sliding elements, and hence drawbacks, than the previous meters.

Radial piston.

This flow technology typically uses four pistons on a central camshaft fluidically connected with suitable valve arrangements. You can view a radial piston flowmeter as a circular four cylinder two-stroke aero engine without the spark and running with an incompressible liquid instead of a gas mixture. Radial piston flowmeters are very accurate devices but incorporate complex assemblies and are therefore not possible for a lower cost solution.

Helical gear:

Helical gear flowmeters use two inter-meshing helixes to pass a fixed volume of fluid along the length of the helix which are geared together. They are very efficient, but are unfortunately very expensive to produce.

Gear meters:

Gear flowmeters operate using two meshed gears in a single close-fitting chamber. The volume of a single gear tooth is passed through as they rotate. As a result, they offer high resolution but require a fairly high pressure drop before they start working. Gear flowmeters also do not lend themselves to a moulded solution which would reduce the cost of manufacture to an acceptable level.

Oval gear:

On investigation, we found that oval gear flowmeter technology combined the benefits of some of the others without compromising the performance. The rubbing/bearing areas are small and controlled. The clearances can be easily maintained in manufacture. The gears themselves can be moulded in chemically resistant materials with excellent bearing properties and precision machined afterwards to ensure closer tolerances if required. The pressure drop is relatively small and the start-up flow very low.

Comparison of flow techniques for viscous fluids

Our decision was to develop an oval gear flowmeter as this technology not only enabled us to handle viscous fluids but also low viscosity and aggressive fluids. Oval gear meters also beneficially offered the option of low cost manufacture for OEM applications.

For further information on oval gear flow meter technology from Titan Enterprises please click here.

How do I measure?

In this issue of fLowdown we discuss:

How do I measure the flow of liquids at elevated temperatures ?

I well remember my physics teacher dropping a piece of sodium into a bath of water and being mesmerised by the pyrotechnics. In its solid form sodium is a soft silvery-white metal which is highly reactive with a lot of chemicals. However, in its liquid form it is used in cooling circuits as it has unique physical and thermal properties. Flowmeters exist which can measure this liquid metal at temperatures up to 600°C and possibly above. The flow of other materials commonly required to be measured at elevated temperatures included bitumen, molten sugar and sulphur in the construction, food and chemical industries. In all cases of elevated temperature flow measurement, it is important to conserve the heat in the liquid to prevent it sticking to the internal surfaces and damaging the pipework and other equipment. Maintaining the temperature is also important as the transport properties of the fluid can change dramatically with even small temperature changes.

For slightly above ambient applications insulating pipes is often sufficient to maintain the transport properties of the fluid. By comparison higher temperature flow applications (>50°C) require other techniques to be used such as heat tracing elements and water or oil heating jackets. In these flowmeter system the sensing element has to be able to withstand these temperatures but the electronics usually cannot and are therefore mounted some distance from the main body to maintain a thermal bridge. Likewise associated materials commonly used in flowmeters such as paint, seals and cabling could be subject to operating outside their design envelope thus alternatives have to found.

Hot oil jacketed OG4 oval gear flowmeter for use with liquid bitumen at 150°C

Currently the highest elevated temperature flowmeter – Titan has manufactured operates at 200°C. This bespoke system was an oval gear flowmeter for metering engine oil in an F1 racing car testbed. Other flow technologies such as electromagnetic and Coriolis can also be adapted for higher temperature applications.

For further information on flowmeter systems for elevated temperature applications please click here.

Engineering Apps for Mobile Devices

An app is a software program for your mobile phone. These programs range in size and complexity from a simple flashlight application to a comprehensive navigational system for plotting positions on a marine chart. Apps allow you to customize a mobile phone or tablet to your specific set of wants and needs. They are generally easy to install, and once you start using them, will become a necessary part of your mobile life.

To save you the time and trouble of searching for and finding useful Engineering Apps we have already done this for you. Part 3 of our informative feature on Engineering Apps is detailed below.

Engineer's Edge

Engineer’s Edge is a comprehensive web portal (http://www.engineersedge.com/) that offers a wide range of tools to aid your engineering work. The list of features includes drill bit size charts, screw size charts, dowel size charts, beam deflection calculators, unit conversions, bearing application and specification, gear design and calculation, material properties and many other features. A mobile device app version of this useful site is also available enabling you to use it on your tablet or phone.

Constructing Analogue & Digital Circuitry

iCircuit is an engineering app which enables the simple construction of analogue and digital circuitry and allows rudimentary testing of said circuit. The app features a scope function for your designed circuits, along with a multimeter function allowing you to probe different parts of your ciurcuit to test. The app is available for £3.09 on android devices, £3.89 on windows computers and $9.99 on the US Apple store.

Further information

Product Update

Batch Controller for Flowmeters

Ruggedly constructed to provide years of trouble-free operation, the Metra-Batch is proven to deliver precise control of batch dispensing, blending and bottle / tank filling of beverages, chemicals, food ingredients, fuels and solvents. Metra-Batch is designed for controlling flowmeters or machinery with pulse or frequency outputs.

This versatile flow controller can be configured as a plant or panel mounted unit offering 2-stage batch control, automatic over-run compensation as well as safety features to prevent erroneous dispensing when a fault occurs. The 8-digit batch display is selectable to count either up or down, in engineering units, or can show the current flow rate, or total product consumption on a password protected accumulator, as well as number of batches delivered. The unit can transmit totalizer and rate of flow data for remote monitoring. Simple PIN-protected flow-chart programming with English prompts guide the user through the entire setup routine. Multiple units may be used in conjunction with each other with lock out and networking enunciation giving the user full operating data. Designed to P67 (NEMA 4X) standards the Metra-Batch housing is purpose designed to suit harsh industrial environments.

For further information on the new 2017 version of the Metra-Batch please click below.

Bulletin Board

New online resources for flow measurement

A new customer resources section has been added to the Titan Enterprises website. Designed for engineers and scientists tasked with making flow measurements - new flowmeter selection charts facilitate easy selection of the optimum flowmeter and instrumentation for your application using parameters including technology, accuracy, flow rate, maximum temperature, maximum pressure, fluid type and cost. In addition, the new resources section provides ready access to a comprehensive bibliography of articles, an archive of fLowdown newsletters since 2013 and many years of topical news.

For further information: visit www.flowmeters.co.uk.

Senior Engineer Sought By Titan

Titan Enterprises are looking to recruit an experienced project/development engineer with knowledge of flow measurement to be responsible for all engineering and technical aspects within the organisation. The successful applicant will schedule, plan, forecast and manage all the technical activities aiming at assuring project accuracy, viability and quality from conception to completion. Key responsibilities will include to Prepare, schedule, coordinate and monitor engineering projects ; Monitor compliance to applicable codes, practices, QA/QC policies, performance standards and specifications ; Interact regularly with the clients to interpret their needs and requirements ; Perform overall quality control of the work (budget, schedule, plans) and report regularly on project status ; Cooperate and communicate effectively with the company directors ; Review engineering deliverables and initiate appropriate corrective actions and Support sales in both a technical and commercial capacity.

To request full details of this exciting role please contact kate@flowmeters.co.uk.



While there may be many things currently happening around the world that worry you …
here are a few bits of humour to make you smile !

A duck walks into a post office and asks the man behind the counter: 'Do you have any corn?' The man answers politely: 'No, we don't have any corn here.' The next day, the duck enters again and asks: 'Do you have any corn?' Annoyed, the man answers: 'No! We don't have any corn.' This goes on for a couple of days until finally, when the duck asks 'Do you have any corn?', the man gets so upset he yells: 'NO! For the last time we don't have any corn, and if you ask again I'll nail your beak to the counter!' The next day, the duck returns and asks: 'Do you have any nails?' The man answers: 'No.' Then the duck asks: 'Do you have any corn?'

A man left his workplace one Friday afternoon. Instead of going home, he stayed out the entire weekend with friends and spent all his wages. When he finally got home on Sunday night, he was confronted by his very angry wife. After contemplating the situation she said: 'How would you like it if you didn't see me for two or three days?' He replied: 'That would be fine with me.' Monday went by and he didn't see his wife. Tuesday and Wednesday came and went with the same results. By Thursday, the swelling had come down just enough for him to see her a little out of the corner of his left eye.

A group of chess enthusiasts were kicked out of a hotel reception for discussing their winning games. The manager can't stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.

Click here for a printable version of Flowdown.

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Titan Enterprises Ltd, Unit 2, 5A Cold Harbour Business Park, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 4JW. UK
Telephone: +44 (0)1935 812790   -   Fax: +44 (0)1935 812890   -   Email: sales@flowmeters.co.uk