Hoffer Pursues New Avenues in Flow Meas.

Dec. 28, 2009

by Matt MiglioreHoffer’s newly released Transi-Flo I unit is an ultrasonic flowmeter used for general industrial applications in conductive, non-conductive and aggressive liquids. It is available with an AC-powered

by Matt Migliore

Hoffer’s newly released Transi-Flo I unit is an ultrasonic flowmeter used for general industrial applications in conductive, non-conductive and aggressive liquids. It is available with an AC-powered rate indicator (pictured here) or as a battery-powered unit.

Hoffer Flow Controls Inc., a long-time manufacturer of turbine flowmeters, recently launched electromagnetic and ultrasonic flowmeter lines – a bold move at a time when most companies are playing a cautious hand on the heels of an historic global recession. In early 2010, Hoffer will be expanding its new flowmeter lines to include not only general industrial solutions, but also a high-temperature, high-pressure ultrasonic flowmeter and two abrasive-service electromagnetic flowmeters. One of the magmeters will be for general slurry and abrasive service, while the other will be for extreme abrasive and large solids service.

Beyond Turbine
According to Bob Carrell, president of Hoffer Flow Controls, the development of ultrasonic flowmeters ranks as one of the key trends in flow measurement technology over the past 10-20 years. As such, he says there were some applications for which Hoffer’s customers were inquiring about ultrasonic technology. "The decision to add new meter technologies was the result of direct customer requests for metering solutions for applications where turbine meters were not the best fit," says Carrell. "These customers have a strong loyalty to our brand based on their prior experiences with the company, and as a result they will regularly inquire with us on all of their flowmetering requirements."
Some of the typical applications Hoffer is trying to meet with its electromagnetic and ultrasonic flowmeter lines include:
• Larger-line water flow applications that require inline meters;
• Corrosive-service applications; and
• Fluids with physically large solids.

A Strong Commitment Remains
Despite the broadening of its product line, Carrell says Hoffer will remain committed to turbine meter technology as well. "Our sales for [turbine flowmeter] technology have grown substantially in the last several years, and we anticipate this trend continuing," says Carrell. "We are fortunate to have an exceptionally broad range of turbine meter designs that permit us to thrive in an equally broad range of markets." Carrell says Hoffer will also introduce a new patent-pending turbine meter design in early 2010.

"The turbine meter remains a strong option for many applications in everything from energy production, distribution and consumption to pharmaceuticals to military and aerospace to a wide variety of OEMs and beyond," says Carrell. "Turbine meters provide the best bang-for-the-buck in terms of purchase price versus accuracy in many applications, and with significant improvements in bearing materials, the long-term cost of ownership has been substantially reduced."

Specification Advice
With its ever-growing solution set, Hoffer has experience working with end-users to specify a variety of flow measurement applications. And with this experience, the company has achieved a high level of understanding of the pitfalls end-users typically encounter when specifying flow measurement solutions. "The most common mistake we seem to see these days is not getting the initial application and specification details right," says Carrell. "Too often we hear of customer meters being mis-sized because the application details provided at the time the quote was prepared were incorrect – flowrates are wrong, temperatures are wrong, operating pressures are wrong, etc."

Carrell believes improper flowmeter specification may be a reflection of the workload designers and engineers face in today’s leaner and meaner business environment, but he says it is nevertheless a costly misstep to correct for all parties. To avoid such errors, Carrell recommends end-users read the quote details from the supplier and make sure they meet the expectations for each application.

Looking Ahead
Going forward, Carrell says he sees the emergence of wireless standards as a key enabler for wireless in flow measurement applications. However, he believes security concerns will remain a long-term issue, and thus limit the use of wireless to noncritical application environments.

Unfortunately for many industry segments, Carrell says the unit price for flow measurement will likely increase in the years ahead due to projected trends in commodity materials used in flowmeters, as well as the steady and so-far unending drumbeat of ever-more certification requirements.

He says declining remote telecom prices will lead to more maintenance and calibration being done from off-site, allowing users to maintain less staff on-site, thus reducing the chance of an accident injuring an employee.

Regarding applications, Carrell says he sees growth in flow measurement of natural gas, as it offers a temporary fuel to reduce carbon emissions as other alternate energy sources develop. Also, he says there will likely be demand for additional flow measurements as countries adopt and enforce cap-and-trade systems and taxes on carbon emissions.

Matt Migliore is the editor of Flow Control magazine. He can be reached at [email protected].

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