Articles & Case Studies

ABB AquaMasters help Langham Industrial Controls Ltd to create a new breed of vertical standpipes

Posted: Friday 25th September 2009

ABB’s AquaMaster electromagnetic flow meters have been used to create a new breed of vertical standpipe for water supply applications. Built by Northamptonshire-based Langham Industrial Controls, the new standpipe is aimed at replacing previous versions using mechanical meters.

Standpipe flow meters are very popular with users such as Fire Brigades and Water Authorities which need to accurately calculate and regulate their water usage. In the past, mechanical meters have tended to be used for standpipe metering applications, resulting in deteriorating accuracy over time caused by wearing of mechanical components.

“The merging of standard standpipes and flow metering technology began some years ago,” says Nigel Langham, Managing Director of Langham Industrial Controls Ltd.. “However, as time has gone on, the limitations of mechanical meters have become apparent and there is a demand in the water industry for something new.”

ABB’s AquaMaster electromagnetic flow meter provided the answer. Specially adapted by Langham Industrial Controls to fit to the 57mm standpipes, the meters provide accurate measurement of water consumption with none of the drawbacks associated with mechanical meters.

Iron and metal particles found in water often stick to the magnets of mechanical meters, causing blockages and leading to wear and tear that can affect accuracy. With no mechanical moving parts, the AquaMaster has eliminated this problem.

The AquaMaster meters have also helped Langham Industrial Controls to optimise the design of its standpipe by enabling it to be vertically positioned. Horizontal versions face the disadvantage of inaccurate readings when the flow tube is not full, such as at low flow rates. With vertical pipes it is structurally inevitable that the flow pipe is full when readings are taken as the water moves up though the pipe, giving enhanced accuracy.

The ability of the new flow meters to cope with higher velocities has also widened the scope of industries that can use them. “With mechanical meters, the extreme velocity of water at some locations such as airports has been known to destroy the paddle wheel,” says Nigel Langham. “Now the flow meters can deal with higher velocities, as the paddle wheel has been removed, opening up new possibilities for wider use.”

After three years in development, the new electromagnetic standpipes look set to phase out the use of mechanical flow meters in the long term. The hybrid technology sees the ABB AquaMaster broken down to its main constituent parts. To fit the standpipe, the AquaMaster’s sensor section has been remodelled, with the connection flanges being removed and replaced with a ‘welded’ fitting to allow it to be fixed into the standpipe upright. These modifications have also reduced the overall weight of the standpipe to 15kg, enabling it to be easily lifted and moved by a single person.

Another key feature that is integral to the success of the new design is the AquaMaster’s battery–powered transmitter. As a result of this, the standpipe can be easily adapted into a portable device, which is further aided by the inclusion of a ‘handle’ design enabling easy fitting and adding protection to the instrument.

To make it easier to read the collected flow data, the AquaMaster’s transmitter is also mounted at an angle. AquaMaster also has the ability utilise an in-built data logger (when fitted), enabling flow and pressure readings to be recorded for further analysis.

Successful trials have been carried out with the assistance of Anglian Water Services, where low flow rates of less than 0.1 l/s have been accurately recorded.

“Choosing ABB for this collaboration was easy,” says Nigel Langham. “I have a long standing relationship with ABB and I knew I was guaranteed to get the knowledge and experience the project required.”

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