Friday 31 March 2017

Flowmeters Talking Your Language

Katronic implement new protocols on KATflow range

At Katronic we recognise that it is no longer enough to simply provide customers with reliable flow data, we also need to increase our focus on how this information is presented and used in the most productive way possible. It is still the case that the majority of KATflow meters include a standard 4 - 20 mA or totalising pulse output. There is, however, a growing requirement for more advanced communication options capable of more than the conventional analogue solutions that have been the go-to output of choice for decades.

One of the greatest evolutions of the communications on the KATflow meters took place recently in response to a series of customer requests. Initially a customer approached us to provide instruments with a connection to a PC network and we therefore developed an Ethernet output for all of the fixed installation instruments. We then took this to the next stage by making all of the measurement and diagnostic values available wirelessly as Katronic joined the Internet of Things. We original conceived this approach with the KATflow 150 in mind (please see article "Wireless Data Show the Future for Katronic Flowmeters"). We considered that the modular design best allowed the modification of the electronics; however, the plan is now to make this available on other instruments such as the new KATflow 210.

Once the data is available on the internet we provide the customer with a software interface that we tailor to suit their needs. The platform can support all of the measurement variables available on the flowmeter including, volumetric, mass and heat quantity values. In response of the move towards smarter metering the customer is also able to access the flowmeter diagnostic data such as signal strength, gain, noise and liquid speed of sound. Engineers can use this information to evaluate meter performance, add credibility to measurements and make predictions on possible service requirements of the flowmeter and sensors.

As well as the wired and wireless Ethernet options Katronic have developed several other new platforms on which the flowmeters are able to operate. We are about to ship our first order of flowmeters fitted with a LonWorks interface. This protocol is widely used in control systems for buildings, mainly in the areas of lighting, power and air-conditioning systems. This latest project is for the supply of ten KATflow 100 flowmeters for a network data centre in The Netherlands where they measure the flow in the cooling systems.

Another new addition to the KATflow arsenal is the availability of the rival BACnet output. As with LonWorks the BACnet protocol was developed for the control of Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning system (HVAC). BACnet is an ASHRAE, ANSO and ISO standard protocol first developed in 1987. The system that launched in the United States has since increased in scope to cover the global HVAC industry in line with the spread of automation and control systems.

The LonWorks and BACnet options are available on the KATflow 100, 150 and 170 fixed flowmeters and the KATflow 210 portable one. We also have developed a Profibus PA solution that at this stage is only available on the KATflow 150 with the KATflow 170 to follow. Profibus, which stands for Process Field Bus was initially developed in Germany in the 1980’s and was adopted by several large European instrumentation companies. The protocol is primarily used in the industrial automation sector with the PA variant being suitable for operation in hazardous areas.