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How digital verification can help water companies ensure optimum flowmeter performance

17 March 2021

Abstraction permits from the Environment Agency mandate the volume of water that utilities can take from raw water sources and accurate measurement is required to manage it. We look at how ABB Ability verification for measurement devices can meet these requirements in water industry applications.

Faced with sustainably managing the growing domestic and industrial needs of a rising population, the water industry is under continuous pressure to maintain supply, increase efficiency and reduce environmental impact while maintaining compliance with relevant legislation. An integral part of providing potable water safely and cost-effectively to thousands of customers every day includes the need for accurate measurement. 

The requirement to verify flowmeter accuracy in the water industry is a key element in helping to ensure that the nation’s water supplies are accurately measured and managed. Two examples of this are the regulations surrounding water abstraction and the best practice standards set down by MCERTS for measuring effluent water discharge from utility and industrial plants, both of which are currently policed by the Environment Agency. 

ABB pioneered in-situ verification for electromagnetic flowmeters with its CalMaster and CalMaster2 solutions in the 1990’s. Both allowed water utilities to verify a flowmeter’s accuracy without the need to remove the instrument for calibration, offering significant savings in time and cost. The simple process involved the flowmeter itself to be taken offline for 30 minutes for the verification test to be performed. 

Over the last 25 years, in-situ verification has become commonplace and is a required function of instrumentation. Today many instruments developed by ABB have the necessary capability to be interrogated by verification software making in-situ verification possible. For end users, this removes the cost and inconvenience of maintenance engineers visiting site for verification purposes and allows companies that may have a much smaller installed base of instruments to verify their devices and reduce the frequency of calibration. 

Utility customers with a large installed base of legacy instrumentation that require regular calibration can use the SRV500 verification platform. The platform and associated software can be used to interrogate and verify instrument performance. It is scalable and can be applied to a growing range of instrumentation in addition to the MagMaster and AquaMaster electromagnetic flowmeters. 

The SRV500 platform can extract the necessary data from legacy devices enabling verification of the circuitry of the sensors, cabling and electronics, including the outputs, with the resulting measurements compared with a baseline set of measurements, known as the fingerprint. The software enables the operator to choose whether to use either the factory fingerprint or to create a new fingerprint based on real site conditions after product commissioning. All verifications performed in the field can then be compared with the fingerprint data and previous tests to identify any potential deterioration in performance. 

Verify and improve 

Regular flowmeter verification is an ideal way to help meet Ofwat’s drive to ensure that water companies are optimising the performance of their existing infrastructure. While it is important to remember that verification is not calibration and does not provide a certificate in conformance with ISO17025, it nevertheless provides an effective starting point for determining if calibration is required, enabling operators to be confident that their flowmeter is operating at optimum performance. 

For more information, visit Alternatively, email or call 0870 600 6122 ref. ‘Verification’.  

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