Intro to flow measurement and control - part 1

When man first started to measure the flow of liquids it was to measure out water to various farms and homes to ensure there was enough water to meet every bodies needs. The tools used for this task were simple and are still often used today for rationing water to farms and other operations needing water. Today there are far more complex flow measuring devices used in many other ways than just to irrigate farmland.

Metering water to farms is only one use of flow meters and probably the oldest use. Today flow measurement is used in many other areas of our lives. You can see flow meters at work with the gas pump at the gas station, the gas meter at your home and many other places. Not only do these obvious examples serve us daily but also there are flow measuring and control devices that we don't often see or know about. For instance the modern automobile employs flow control and measurement devices that all interact with a computer that achieves maximum fuel savings while deliver needed power.

All this flow control and measuring equipment can work as stand alone units or they can work as part of a complex system that includes a flow computer, flow control devices as well as alarms and other alert systems. When any part of these complex systems does not operate as expected they can fail causing loss of materials, equipment breakdown and other problems up to and including human injury or death. For this reason most critical parts of these complex systems use back up devices that serve to protect your investment in case of component failure.

Flow measurement technology is also used in efforts to monitor or control water flow through natural rivers and hydroelectric plants to ensure that enough energy can be produced without damaging the environment. Conservationist and wildlife management groups also monitor flow data using their own tools or relying on tools from other organizations in order to understand and lessen our impact on our environment.

Some of the important uses for flow control in manufacturing include delivering coolants or lubricants to moving parts of machinery, measuring raw materials coming into a manufacturing process and in packaging of liquid products or gases. For instance a flow meter will ensure a certain amount of coolant reached a milling bit to keep it cool but without wasting the coolant by delivering too much. Another example might be raw materials used to make paints, if the flow of raw materials are not mixed in the right proportions you will have a useless product.