Flow Research flash report: Emerson acquires clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeter company FLEXIM

Aug. 23, 2023
Flow Research analysts take an in-depth look at last week's announcement.
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August 21, 2023 (Wakefield, MA; Flow Research release) — Global technology and engineering company Emerson has announced that it has a definitive agreement to acquire its business partner FLEXIM during the 2023 fiscal year, which ends September 30. Emerson, based in St. Louis Missouri is a leading supplier of inline ultrasonic flowmeters, as well as a wide range of other flowmeters and automation solutions. FLEXIM, based in Berlin, Germany, with US offices in Edgewood, New York, exclusively manufactures clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters. In October 2016, Emerson announced an agreement to jointly collaborate in the design and installation of flowmeter products for capital projects, and the companies have been partnering ever since.

What it means

Emerson’s acquisition of FLEXIM makes sense in light of the alliance the two companies have had for almost seven years. Since Emerson has only inline ultrasonic flowmeters, FLEXIM’s clamp-on meters are complementary to rather than competitive to Emerson’s ultrasonic product line. In addition, since many of Emerson’s meters are sold as part of large projects, the acquisition of FLEXIM enables Emerson to fill a gap in case someone wants one or more clamp-on meters as part of a larger project. It will also enable Emerson to integrate FLEXIM’s meters more completely with Emerson’s instrumentation line.

While the clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeter market is significantly smaller than the inline flowmeter market, there are many applications for clamp-on meters. These include check metering, temporary metering, and applications where high accuracy is not a requirement. Clamp-on ultrasonic meters can also be used to meter the flow in large pipes, although here they compete with insertion meters.

FLEXIM’s Berlin headquarters is expected to become Emerson’s Ultrasonic Flow Measurement Center of Excellence. It seems unlikely that this will impact Emerson’s established inline ultrasonic meters based in Houston. What is more likely is that this center will focus on clamp-on ultrasonic meters, while the inline ultrasonic meters will remain in Houston.

Emerson’s purchase of FLEXIM does put it in more direct competition with Siemens, which also sells both control systems and instrumentation. Siemens has clamp-on meters that are based on its acquisition of Controlotron in 2005. Emerson’s acquisition also puts the company in more direct competition with Panametrics, a Baker Hughes company. Panametrics has inline, clamp-on, and insertion ultrasonic flowmeters.

It will be interesting to see how Emerson handles FLEXIM as an operating company. The belief among some FLEXIM employees is that FLEXIM will continue to operate independently. This may be true initially, but the trend at Emerson is to take what were somewhat independently operating companies and integrate them into Emerson’s corporate structure. The company then becomes a brand. This is now even true of Micro Motion, which used to be treated as a company and is now a brand. It seems likely that this is the course Emerson will follow with FLEXIM, even if they continue to operate somewhat independently at first. Stay tuned for further developments.

About the companies

Emerson is focused on global automation leadership through acquisition, divestiture, and reorganization. The $19.6 billion company manufactures and sells products that automate and optimize production, processing, and distribution facilities for process, hybrid, and discrete manufacturers, including electronic and electrical equipment, software, systems, and services.

Enerson is a broadline supplier of new-technology flowmeters including Coriolis, magnetic, ultrasonic, and vortex. Its line of conventional flowmeters includes differential pressure (DP) transmitters, DP flowmeters, and orifice plates. Emerson recently divested itself of its line of Daniel orifice fittings and turbine flowmeters. Through its Roxar division, Emerson is a supplier of multiphase and watercut meters. Emerson also manufactures pressure, temperature, and level instruments; analytics solutions; and flame & gas detection devices. 

In ultrasonic flowmeters, Emerson manufactures inline ultrasonic flowmeters for liquid and gas applications. Four-path and eight-path Rosemount SeniorSonic ultrasonic flowmeters can be used for custody transfer applications.

Until earlier this year, Emerson’s flowmeters resided in its Automation Solutions business. Now automation solutions are a company-wide focus and the company reorganized into six different business segments, with flowmeters residing in the Measurement & Analytical segment.

FLEXIM, founded 33 years ago, has grown to become a technology leader in clamp-on ultrasonic flow measurement for liquids, gases, and steam. The $93.5 million company, which also manufactures density and concentration meters, has an installed base of more than 100,000 flowmeters in the chemical, power, oil & gas, energy, water, and other industries.

FLEXIM's transit-time ultrasonic flowmeters for gases and liquids are available in both fixed and portable clamp-on configurations.  FLEXIM claims to be the only supplier of clamp-on ultrasonic systems for non-invasive flow measurement of liquids and gases with worldwide SIL certification. The PIOX S determines the mass flow of liquids by dynamically inferring the fluid’s density from the acoustic velocity and temperature. The FLUXUS G for gas contains transmitters and transducers ranging from basic models for standard applications to robust measuring systems for offshore and hazardous use. The FLUXUS F Series can be used for bi-directional flow conditions and for any kind of liquid in a wide range of temperatures. FLEXIM claims that the measurement of liquids with entrained solids and gases is not a challenge for this series.

Analysts: Jesse Yoder, PhD and Belinda Burum of Flow Research, Inc.

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