Sensors, Actuators

Flowmeter market growth expected thanks to oil and gas industry recovery

A study from Flow Research projects the worldwide flowmeter market will grow from $7 billion to almost $9 billion by 2023 as the oil and gas industry continues recovering. Flow measurement technologies advance.
By Mark T. Hoske and Chris Vavra November 2, 2019
Courtesy: Flow Research Inc.

A research study from Flow Research finds the worldwide flowmeter market totaled $7.06 billion in 2018 and is projected to approach $8.85 billion by 2023.

The worldwide flowmeter market size has followed the upward and downward fluctuations in oil prices. When oil prices began dropping in 2014 and many oil and gas exploration projects were postponed or cancelled, associated instrumentation industries experienced a ripple effect. This downturn especially impacted the Coriolis, ultrasonic, differential pressure (DP), positive displacement, and turbine flowmeter markets, according to the May 2019 report, “Volume X: The World Market for Flowmeters, 7th Edition.”

As oil prices began recovering in 2016, the worldwide flowmeter market is now back on a healthy upward track. Coriolis and ultrasonic flowmeters, which are industry-approved for custody transfer of both gas and liquids, are projected to experience the fastest growth rates.

New vs. traditional flowmeters

While new-technology flowmeters are displacing traditional technology meters in some applications, traditional meters are still a major force in the flowmeter market. New-technology flowmeters, meters first introduced after 1950, include Coriolis, magnetic, ultrasonic, vortex, and thermal flowmeters. Traditional technology flowmeters include DP, positive displacement, turbine, open channel and variable area flowmeters.

A study from Flow Research projects the worldwide flowmeter market will grow to almost $9 billion by 2023. Courtesy: Flow Research Inc.

A study from Flow Research projects the worldwide flowmeter market will grow to almost $9 billion by 2023. Courtesy: Flow Research Inc.

As some new technology flowmeters become more familiar, gain industry approvals, come down in price, and expand the range of line sizes available, their advantages are gaining them converts. Some advantages include: accuracy, repeatability, reliability, lack of moving parts subject to wear and low to no pressure drop. A steady stream of new features, options, and apps increases their ease of use and integration into processes. Some new-technology flowmeters are also benefitting from expanding and newer applications such as hydrofracking and environmental monitoring.

Traditional technology flowmeters, especially DP flow, positive displacement and turbine meters, have the advantage of a large installed base that is reluctant to switch without cause. In addition, they were among the first types of flowmeters to receive approvals from industry associations for custody transfer applications. In many applications, these are the lower-cost workhorses of the flow measurement world. However, the need for increased accuracy, reliability, and managed network capabilities are causing some users to make the switch to new technology meters.

Product improvements propel growth

In addition to growth factors related to the oil and gas industry, product improvements in new and traditional technology flowmeters are contributing to the upward trend in the worldwide market. Some product improvements include modern materials for meter parts or liners, additional line sizes, increased accuracy and broader flow ranges. Suppliers are also making battery powered units, smaller meter bodies for tight spaces, multivariable meters, and self-monitoring or self-recalibrating meters.

Regulatory reporting requirements, along with the need for continuous measurement without interruption, are increasing the value of redundancy in measurement. Vortex and turbine suppliers have brought out flowmeters with two sensors and dual flowmeters calibrated together. New differential pressure flowmeters offer fully- integrated orifice plates with multiple transmitters. Dual turbine rotor designs offer greater turndown flow range along with enhanced accuracy. Redundancy, along with accuracy and reliability, are key features to look for when selecting a flowmeter.

ST80 Series Thermal Mass Flow Meter by Fluid Components International (FCI) has FCI’s Adaptive Sensor Technology (AST) to expand the rangeability, accuracy, extended service life, and reliability for process industry air/gas flow measurement. Courtesy: Fluid Components International

ST80 Series Thermal Mass Flow Meter by Fluid Components International (FCI) has FCI’s Adaptive Sensor Technology (AST) to expand the rangeability, accuracy, extended service life, and reliability for process industry air/gas flow measurement. Courtesy: Fluid Components International

“It’s an exciting time for the world flowmeter market,” said Dr. Jesse Yoder, president of Flow Research. “Oil prices have stabilized and projects requiring new flowmeters are in full swing. Adding to that, suppliers are introducing new product features that are revitalizing the market. Chief among these are enhanced accuracy, reliability, and redundancy. Last year was a banner year for the flowmeter market, and this trend is continuing into 2019. There is also a burst of merger and acquisition activity that is almost certain to continue as companies position themselves to compete more effectively in an expanding market.”

Flowmeter technology advances

Thermal Micro Flow Rate Liquid Flow Meter Model F7M flow meter from Azbil Corp. can measure micro flow rates from 0.5 to 50 mL/min, an addition to the two current models, which can measure flow rates of 0.1 to 10 mL/min and 0.3 to 30 mL/min, respectively. The flow meters have applications in a wide range of areas, such as battery and semiconductor manufacturing, sterilization processes and spray dispensing. All three models feature the ability to measure two types of liquid with one unit.

Dynasonics TFX-5000 ultrasonic clamp-on flow and energy meters from Badger Meter are designed for non-invasive, ultrasonic transit time measurement. The meters can be used in water and wastewater treatment, heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) and oil and gas applications. They can measure volumetric flow and heating/cooling rates in clean liquids and those with small amounts of suspended solids or aeration, such as surface water or raw sewage.

ST80 Series Thermal Mass Flow Meter by Fluid Components International (FCI) has FCI’s Adaptive Sensor Technology (AST) to expand the rangeability, accuracy, extended service life, and reliability for process industry air/gas flow measurement. FCl’s AST thermal mass flow technology combines constant power (CP) and constant temperature (CT) thermal dispersion sensing technologies in the same instrument. The flow meter has a choice of four flow sensor element designs, including FCI’s new wet gas sensor.

Signet 2580 FlowtraMag from GF Piping Systems is full bore magnetic flowmeter with a sensor made in the Georg Fischer factory in Southern California. It is designed for high accuracy flow measurement in short pipe runs (as low as 3X upstream and 2X downstream). High accuracy is achieved for these problematic runs with the new sensor design that has shorter inlet and outlet pipe length requirement and certified factory calibration.

Signet 2580 FlowtraMag from GF Piping Systems is designed for high accuracy flow measurement in short pipe runs (as low as 3X upstream and 2X downstream). Courtesy: GF Piping Systems

Signet 2580 FlowtraMag from GF Piping Systems is designed for high accuracy flow measurement in short pipe runs (as low as 3X upstream and 2X downstream). Courtesy: GF Piping Systems

Red-y Smart High-Precision Thermal Mass Flow Meters and Mass Flow Controllers from Vogtlin Instruments to accurately monitor gas flow within the very sensitive bioreactor process that cultures the algae. Sight glass meters were susceptible to temperature and pressure deviations, resulting in value variations by 10% or more. It has CO2 onboard totalizing and flowrate indication to support greater process results.

Admag Total Insight (TI) is a lifecycle-aware magnetic flow meter from Yokogawa that reduces OpEx and downtime by monitoring the health of the flow meter without removing it from the process. The Yokogawa dual-frequency design achieves a fast response, stable measurement, and zero stability. Basic parameters are grouped together in an easy setup wizard. Download and save data to analyze offline, avoiding potential problems or downtime. It has three levels of built-in verification, including in-line.

For more on flowmeters, see www.controleng.com/NPE under control systems under the subcategory of flow control flowmeters, including ABB AquaMaster 3, Aplus Finetek Sensor EPR Series Paddlewheel Flowmeter, Endress+Hauser Proline flowmeters, Exair Wireless Digital Flowmeter, Schneider Electric Foxboro MagPlus, and Siemens Sitrans FC430 Coriolis flowmeter.

From materials submitted from the respective companies, edited by Chris Vavra and Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

KEYWORDS: Industrial flowmeters, flow meters

Flow meter product improvements expand flowmeter use.

The worldwide flowmeter market follows oil prices.

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Mark T. Hoske and Chris Vavra