Flow and consumption measurement of compressed air and gas is an important task in the manufacturing industry in order to optimize energy efficiency and save costs.

SUTO flow meters provide accurate and reliable flow and consumption measurement and come with various signal interface options (4-20 mA analog, pulse, Modbus/RTU, Modbus/TCP, M-Bus, HART). 


The Importance of flow and consumption measurements in a compressed air system

Almost any industrial process uses compressed air as one of its energy resources. Compressed air is easily accessible and available throughout the factories and plants as a reliable energy form. But where it is normal to measure electrical power consumption, it is often found that compressed air as an energy source is not measured and monitored. A constant and reliable air flow at any point in the network is necessary to keep the process under control.

Measuring the compressed air flow gives the control back to the operators, knowing how much air is consumed during which period of productions and how much air is actually needed.

Overall flow and consumption measurement products from SUTO are offering operators to get an overview of their compressed air performance and getting it under control.

Why measuring compressed air consumption?
Compressed air is one of the most expensive energy forms and widely used in almost any application and process. Only by measuring the compressed air consumption with thermal mass flow meters or pitot-tube flow meters, operators of compressed air system are enabled to optimize the system, operating their compressors at the highest efficiency and save costs.

But not only saving costs, an optimized system also saves energy and reduced the carbon footprint of a factory or plant.

What types of flow meters are available?
Flowmeters are available as Insertion type models, which can be installed under pressure through a ball valve or are available as inline types, where the flow meter is provided with a measuring section. SUTO is using two different types of flow meters for compressed air and gases to provide measurement solutions for different applications:

+ The thermal mass flow meters are suited for dry and clean conditions and can be used in compressed air or any other gas.
+ Pitot-tube flowmeters allow the measurement of wet air as it exists at compressor outlets, thus enabling the performance measurement of compressors.

Special OEM versions of the thermal mass, as well as the pitot-tube flow meters, are available for compressor/dryer makers and Energy Management Solution providers (IIoT) as very economic flow meter solutions.

By installing compressed air flow meters, operators are able to answer questions like:
  • How much air is needed by which machine?
  • Does my compressor deliver the air required?
  • Are the compressors operating efficiently?
  • Are there losses in the compressed air system during periods where the production is stopped?
  • How much money is spent on compressed air?
  • Overall flow and consumption measurements is offering operators to get an overview of their compressed air performance and getting it under control.
Which gases can be measured by SUTO flow meter products?
SUTO flow meters are not only suited to measure compressed air consumption, but are also able to measure almost any gas which is typically used in industries. Thanks to the thermal mass technology, as well as the pitot-tube technology, it’s not needed to compensate the temperature or pressure, no matter in which gas the flowmeters are used. For the standard industrial gases, SUTO is able to provide real gas calibrations when needed.

Typical gases besides compressed air are:
Nitrogen (N2), Oxygen (O2), Carbon dioxide (CO2), Argon (Ar), Natural Gas, Helium (He), Hydrogen (H2), Methane (CH4) and many more.

The SUTO flow meters are suited to measure almost any pure gas, but also gas mixtures, please contact our support if you need custom solutions to measure the process gas as you need it.

Why are thermal mass flow meters also suited for Oxygen, CO2 and Nitrogen?
Every gas has a specific gas constant, which indicates the thermal characteristics of the gas. Thermal mass flow meter technology is based on this constant, enabling the flow meter to be used in this industrial gases, even if the flow meter is calibrated and set to air. The technology allows users of the mass flowmeters to switch the gas type via a software setting, directly on the sensor using the local display or a smartphone with a wireless connection.

With this, a compressed air flow meter can be turned into an oxygen flow meter or nitrogen flow meter at a glance. Still, thanks to the thermal mass flow principle, there is no need to compensate pressure or temperature additionally, therefore the flow meters are perfectly suited to be used in many gas applications.

What measurement technology is used in SUTO flow and consumption meters?
SUTO flow meters for compressed air and gas are based on two technologies:

Thermal mass flow meters for dry air and gases
With SUTO thermal mass flow sensors, users are enabled to measure the mass flow, volumetric flow and consumption of any gas. Thermal mass flow sensors provide the advantage of wide measuring ranges and high accuracy. Besides that, thermal mass flow sensors are long term stable, easy to maintain and can be installed in existing pipe systems, making them the universal product for a wide variety of applications.

Pitot-tube flowmeters for wet air and gas applications
When it comes to measure the compressed air directly at the outlet of the compressor, where the air is unfiltered, hot and wet, thermal mass flow sensor can not be used. For this application, SUTO is offering wet air flow meters based on the pitot-tube principle. An insertion type sensor is using the differential pressure which is created at the sensor tip (pitot-tube), paired with a temperature and pressure measurement, to measure the volumetric flow of the wet air. With this sensor, it’s possible to measure the FAD (Free air delivery) as well as the total flow of the compressed air. The pito-tube flowmeter is the right tool for energy audits and often used for compressor performance tests as well.

How to choose the right flow meter to satisfy the requirements and needs in customers applications?

Typically, it is needed to know the on site conditions, such as:

  • Is the air or gas dry or wet?
  • What is the pipe diameter in which the flow and consumption should be measured?
  • What flow rates are expected?
  • Should the flow meter be inserted under pressure?
  • Is there enough straight inlet section available?
  • What output signals / interfaces are needed?

This sound like a lot to be known, but our expert SUTO team is here to assist you at any time and up to now we never had a case, where we did not find a suitable flow meter which matches perfectly to the customer needs and application.

In which applications are flow and consumption meters used?
Typically, compressed air flow meters are used in the main header pipes of a compressed air system. By this the total consumption, as well as the consumption of single production lines, can be easily monitored. But also the measurement of single consumers is an important point, especially when operating costs are playing a vital role. Besides that, gas flow measurements, like the Oxygen flow rates and consumption in medical applications, are to be monitored and controlled.

The flexibility of SUTO flow meters are offering users the best suitable measurement technology in almost any application.

Do SUTO flow meter require an additional temperature or pressure compensation?
Traditional flow meters, like rotary flow meters, are often used in many applications. But their major drawbacks are the moving parts, which need regular maintenance, their high installation costs and the need for an additional temperature and pressure compensation.

SUTO thermal mass flowmeters do not need any additional pressure or temperature compensation, the technology used is pressure independent. The absolute gas temperature is measured by the sensor as well and already part of the measurement principle, therefore an additional temperature compensation is not needed.

SUTO pitot-tube flow meters come already with and integrated temperature and pressure measurement, which is used to calculate and measure the volume flow of compressed air and gases, additional sensors for compensation are not needed.

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