by Eastern Instruments, USA or quite a while now, the choices for solids flow measurement devices for the milling and grain industries have fallen into two main camps; the flow meters that are relatively inexpensive but whose accuracies leave much to be desired, and the flow meters that are extremely accurate, but whose prices can be hard to justify, especially when viewed in the context of the cost of the products being measured. Depending on the application, one or the other of these types of flow meters have their place, but sometimes it can be difficult to determine which direction to go. As with all choices, the decision to opt for an accurate, or alternatively, an affordable flow meter comes with consequences that can affect the way your process operates and that ultimately, can affect your bottom line. Let us examine this choice between accurate flow measurement and affordable flow measurement and within the context of this choice, we can also examine a new flow measurement solution on the market that may change the way this choice between accuracy and affordability is made.
Accuracy as a determining factor
The accuracy of your flow measurement and equivalently, the efficiency of your process, is key to controlling costs and monitoring expenses within your operation. The most effective way of monitoring and controlling costs is to understand what is occurring within your process so that it can be optimized. Ideally, that means measuring the input and output of each minor process to understand, for instance, the optimal settings for your mill or your dryers or the best ratio for mixing ingredients. Subsequent to dry bulk solids being such an integral part of the milling and grain industry, being able to accurately measure them is critical to the efficiency of their processing. Such is the case with many parts of modern industrial processes, however, the accuracy of your flow measurement devices is most important when actual money is on the line.
80 | December 2017 - Milling and Grain
Receiving product during load-in is a great example of this. As product is received it is typically purchased and billed for by weight. With an inaccurate flow measurement, or even worse, no flow measurement at all, you may have no way of verifying the amount of product that you are receiving. Utilizing the â€œtake their word for itâ€? approach may very well leave you with less corn or grain than you are being billed for and may leave you paying more for the product that you have, than you should be. An accurate flow measurement of the incoming product helps verify what you are receiving and allows for control of the cost of your incoming grains, thus lowering the cost of your overall process. As a result of the accurate measurement of your incoming product directly correlating to savings within your process, the accuracy of the flow measurement at this location is rather important and may warrant the expense of a more accurate flow measurement. Conversely, the cost of an inaccurate flow measurement device will be seen directly on your bottom line. Another example of where accurate flow measurement is important is during blending or mixing. Many processes combine different types of grains together for special blends of milled grains or flours. Controlling these blends can be critical to the consistency and quality of your end product and so having an accurate flow measurement for each of the individual ingredients is crucial. Obviously, the more accurate the flow measurement of the individual products, the more accurate and consistent the end product will be. For particularly expensive products, accurate flow measurement is even more important. No one wants to use more expensive product than necessary within their blend or batch as the cost of doing so can add up quickly. However, by accurately measuring the amount of particularly expensive products that are being blended into your end product, you can better limit its use, or rather over use, thus limiting the cost of producing your end product and drastically reducing the waste of your expensive ingredients in the process. Finally, the measurement of your finished product, whether milling grains into flour, cleaning seeds, or making feed pellets