What is a flow sensor?

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What is a flow sensor?


Flow sensors, also known as flow meters, are used to measure (and usually regulate) the flow rate and pressure of a liquid or a gas within a system. Critical for ensuring that any flow media is kept within safe pressure levels for the operating equipment and the configuration of pipework, flow measurement is key to any processing system. In our latest article, we answer the question ‘what is a flow sensor’ in more detail and explain why flow measurement is so important.

What is a flow sensor’s standard configuration?

A flow sensor is what is used in industry to provide information on the flow rate of a media through a pipe; it would usually be electronic and would be connected either to a digital interface to provide feedback and subsequent control, or to a gauge. Flow sensors include a primary medium connection device, a transducer to sense the flow passing through the primary device and a transmitter that then creates the output signal from the transducer information. Flow sensors can broadly be split into two types: contact flow measurement and non-contact flow measurement sensors. Non-contact flow measurement is usually used in environments where hygiene is a critical factor, such as in food or pharmaceutical processing. These flow sensor devices have no moving parts that could contaminate or alter the media as it passes through the system. Contact flow measurement devices are used where the media would not be affected by the flow sensor, and where the flow sensor would not be impacted by the physical flow through or past it.

What formats are used for flow measurement

Flow sensors can either measure a rate of flow over a set time period, known as time measuring units, or they can measure the media as it passes through on a continual basis, known as a totalising flow sensor.

How to select the right flow sensor for your application

When looking for a flow measurement solution it is important to understand that many flow sensors are designed specifically with an application, a working environment or with installation constraints in mind. Many of the available flow sensors will work well on a variety of applications, but it is better to start with the application when looking for the right solution rather than trying to make the technology fit your needs. Some factors to consider when selecting the right flow sensor for your flow measurement requirements include:

The type of fluid being measured

  1. The viscosity of the fluid
  2. The output required: time measuring or totalising flow measurement
  3. The format of the output: display or signal
  4. Minimum and maximum likely flow rates
  5. Process pressure within the system
  6. Process Temperature

Flow measurement is an expectation in all kinds of processing environments, and there is a wide range of solutions available on the market. A flow sensor is what provides the feedback to be able to monitor and control the flow rates and pressure within the system, but selecting the right flow measurement device for your application can be confusing. If you would like help in choosing the right flow sensor, call BEST Pneumatics on 01254 390555 or email us at [email protected].