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The Value of an Integrated Cryogenic Metering Solution

The cryogenics industry has changed drastically in the past ten years. Although the general population may know very little about the business, those of us in the industry realize its significance as it impacts medical delivery systems, food processing, space exploration, construction, transportation, electronics, and numerous other markets.

And as technology expands, so too does the opportunity to expand into other industries. This means there is a greater demand for cryogenic liquefied gases, but this also means that there will be an increased demand for effective measurement. 

This creates some challenges and it is important to focus on offering technology that produces the critical link to the revenue stream and not only offer measurement, but a complete reporting system. The system must be easily integrated, easy to understand and must reduce cost. The goal is to provide a solid, efficient, and most importantly, accurate investment, while also reducing the use of one resource that can’t be manufactured – time.

Moving Past the Meter

At cryogenic conditions, liquids provide little lubrication for moving parts and the thermal shock of fluids at these low temperatures can pose problems for transport. Keeping elements cold, near boiling points and ensuring that these materials are in their purest forms can be difficult but not impossible.

The cryogenic turbine meter has been around since the 1940s but improvement upon mechanics such as re-engineered ball bearings including ceramic, and alternate meter materials – Monel for some applications, and stainless steel for others, are now available. Choosing the correct meter is an important investment, one that needs to be backed by knowledgeable industry professionals.

This is especially important when transporting cryogenic materials. The transportation vehicles traveling down a highway can encounter potholes and the usual hazards of travel. Even during the most tenuous routes, liquefied gas must remain stable and transport drivers must always have access to the status of their cargo. In addition, the quality of the liquid must be maintained. An intuitive system needs to be put in place that monitors activity but also recognizes warning signs and take the appropriate measures to prevent damage especially from cavitation. If temperatures are not in the safe operating region, or there is an indication of pump pressure loss, the pump system needs to react accordingly, swiftly, and automatically. It is important to note that accuracy has a direct correlation to revenue. For example, it is possible that a one percent error in accuracy could translate to upwards of $15,000 of revenue loss annually per bulk transport. This means a typical major fleet consisting of 300 cryogenic bulk transports has a potential annual loss of $4.5 million.

Focusing instead on integrated solutions with technical advances such as µprocessor utilization, assists companies to effectively transport as well as monitor all activities from the comfort of their truck (or home office) when used with various in cab solutions. This creates not only a safe environment for transportation professionals, but it also protects the quality of the cryogenic materials, reduces the need for maintenance, and protects the investment.

Keeping It Simple

The other element that is a must in terms of successful implementation is simplicity. Anything that is hard to read or humbles people, will not work. Simplicity and efficiency are imperative to the success in the cryogenic industry. Incorporating an integrated system needs to be a cost-effective investment but it also should be easy to implement, operate, and understand. Installing a meter with convoluted or extensive programming instructions not only takes time away from more pressing matters, but it can also be more difficult to maintain or understand. This also poses safety issues. A properly integrated metering system should notify users of issues and should indicate clearly what the problem could be whether it is a malfunction, pressure changes or perhaps something more serious.

Clearly presented diagnostics and warning icons help even the newest member or technician trouble shoot issues. This not only saves time for training but also protects your investments by quickly discovering issues and solving them before they grow to become dangerous or unmanageable – which again can significantly impact your bottom line.

When choosing an overall metering solution, there are several things that should be factored:

  • Quality: It is important that a company designs and calibrates its meters and totalizers to the highest standards using independent verification and meeting all prerequisite certifications. Especially in the case of cryogenic applications, meters must be precision crafted by skilled machinists, from the best available materials so that they are able to maintain critical tolerances at cryogenic temperatures and withstand harsh conditions. Cryogenic meters must be able to handle a large temperature range, including up to -450ºF as a minimum. The meter’s engineers must be knowledgeable of processes where the flow meters will be implemented and can determine the best metering option for any installation.
  • Reliability: Turbine meters depend on the quality of their design, workmanship, and materials, as well as proper installations. Designed to provide an accurate and long service life a key element that is necessary, especially when dealing with rugged materials and drastic temperatures, is that the meters installation is such that it can be installed or removed, repaired or replaced in a relatively quick turnaround – so that valuable production time is never sacrificed for performance and accuracy.
  • Precision: Turbine meters should be equipped with a specially designed turbine rotor that minimizes drag and spins freely. As the rotor spins, it interrupts the magnetic field provided by the magnetic pick-up, which is detected, amplified, and processed by the totalizer and displayed as a total and rate of flow. In addition to the need for a high-quality turbine meter, it is also important to have a totalizer that displays in real-time.
  • Accuracy: Turbines can be designed and calibrated to deliver from +/- 0.15% to +/- 0. 5% respectively. Only skilled, experienced providers can harness the full potential of these technologies to such high standards, outcompeting other meters. Independent calibration provides a greater level of insurance against low performance; suppliers who both in-house and independently calibrate offer a more conservative, and reliable option.

Providing Ever More Complex Solutions

As the cryogenic industry evolves so does the industries expectations of vendors and the equipment provided. Gone forever are the days when a simple delivery totalizer is sufficient. Vendors today are expected to partner and provide solutions to challenges the client is experiencing, even those not related to the vendors’ immediate accountability.

Integration of wireless communications with a cab’s onboard computer and handheld billing systems, accurate data records of delivery information, preservation of delivery system components and preventative maintenance scheduling are just a few of the critical elements to creating an effective forward-thinking solution.

As technology infiltrates every aspect of our daily existence, dependence on that technology increases proportionately. As with all products, the advent of the µprocessor has transformed product expectations. Today manufacturers can comply with those elevated expectations in an economically feasible way. Continued exploitation of technological advances has converted impractical products and concepts into mainstream products and services. Turbines Incorporated utilizes the latest technological advances and resources in our designs, yet our greatest resource is as old as business itself – price, delivery, quality, and customer service.

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Turbines, Inc. was founded in 1975 in Altus, Oklahoma with a vision to manufacture high quality, American made flow measurement instruments supported by excellent customer service and prompt delivery. We have transformed this vision into...

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