Why it totally pays to pick electromagnetic

The arrival of AMP6 signals a change in many areas for both water companies and the supply chain.

As well as the potential end of the AMP cycle’s ‘boom and bust’ behaviour, another major change is underway, with Ofwat encouraging companies to move away from capital expenditure on new plant and infrastructure and instead focus on total life costs and getting more out of their existing assets.

Called TOTEX, this shift in emphasis will see a move towards companies focusing more on joined-up investment and on improving the performance of installed infrastructure rather than building new plant.

The approach includes a particular focus on the role of data in helping companies to maintain their networks more effectively and identify potential problems before they occur.

Of course, data is only as good as the device used to gather it. If the accuracy of the device itself is lacking, then the resulting data will be of questionable value when it comes to setting strategies to improve performance.
When it comes to the devices for measuring and monitoring flow around water distribution networks, various flowmetering options have traditionally been available to water companies, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Orifice plates may present an inexpensive solution, but their accuracy relies on the opening having been machined to the right size. Although they may offer reasonable accuracy at first, wearing of the orifice edges caused by particles within the flow can steadily erode measurement performance. This technology works by creating a pressure drop across the plate of which a minimum of 40% is non-recoverable. These losses inevitably lead to increased pumping costs.

Frequently specified where purchase cost is an issue, mechanical meters can quickly prove to be false economy. Wear and tear on their moving parts can reduce accuracy within weeks of installation, resulting in over or under registration of flows.

A higher costing option, the ultrasonic flowmeter, uses ultrasonic beams to assess the velocity of the fluid, which can then be used to derive a flow measurement. Although they offer the benefits of a clamp-on device, these meters can be severely affected by changes in speed, and are difficult to set up, especially where high accuracy is required.

In comparison, electromagnetic flowmeters offer a number of advantages that can quickly add up to savings that outweigh their higher initial purchase price. Firstly, there are no moving parts which need routine maintenance. Their buriable design also means the overall cost of the system is reduced as there is no need to build chambers or install ancillary equipment such as isolating valves.

Then there’s the matter of accuracy. Electromagnetic flowmeters offer typical accuracies of ±0.5% of rate throughout their operational life, as well as superb reliability from being unaffected by the wear and tear that can affect other meter types.

Recent technological developments extend their benefits even further. ABB’s AquaMaster 3, for example, includes GSM-SMS radio technology, enabling up-to-date information to be remotely collected from anywhere around the world and eliminating the costs associated with manual collection. Their ability to draw energy from either solar or wind also opens up a raft of new installation location possibilities.

When each method for leakage prevention is compared to the other, it soon becomes clear that the electromagnetic flowmeter is the best choice.

Not only that, but as listed technologies within the Government’s Water Technology List, ABB’s WaterMaster and AquaMaster flowmeters are eligible for Enhanced Capital Allowances which allow for offset of 100% of cost against corporation tax, not just on the cost of the purchase but also any costs relating to installation.

Taken together, these factors present a compelling case for using electromagnetic meters in a TOTEX-focused strategy.

For more about why it pays to pick electromagnetic flowmeters, email moreinstrumentation@gb.abb.com or call 0870 600 6122 ref ‘Water Technology List’.

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