Flow measurement in food processing plants

For the fast-paced food and beverage industry flow measurement plays an essential role. Worldwide demand on the industry is high and large volumes of liquids pass through food plants every day. Before reaching the shelves of supermarkets, food must reach the high standards set by the Food Standards Agency, which is responsible for food safety and hygiene across the UK.

Flow measurement is used at almost every stage throughout processing plants, ensuring quality and consistency in products. Important processes, including storage, pumping and ingredient control, will all use flow measurement as a means to measure and monitor activity. A range of materials, such as gas, oil and water, will be measured throughout the plant. Food processing is notorious for its high water consumption during production, including washing, cooling and heating.

Types of Flow Meters
Ultrasonic flow meters effectively measure the volume of water which passes through food processing plants on a daily basis. These non-invasive meters sit on the outside of pipelines and measure the flow of liquid through the pipes, meaning there is no need to cut into pipework to install flow meters. As a portable meter, they can be moved from pipe to pipe as required, easily linking to a flow computer to download the collected data.

Open channel flow meters are also used within food processing where suitable. As open channel meters operate on pipework, either open entirely to the atmosphere or a half full closed pipe, this type of meter is used purely to measure materials which can be safely exposed to the atmosphere, such as water and waste.

Flow Measurement at Biogas Plants
The push on renewable energy has seen many food processing plants turning to biogas plants to recycle food waste and reduce their carbon footprint. Flow measurement can be used within biogas plants, where waste is broken down to produce energy, measuring what goes in and the amount of energy produced from waste materials.

Exi Flow Measurement worked closely alongside the Natuurgas Overijssel BV (a joint venture of NV ROVA Holding and HVC Alkmaar) to measure the energy produced from their plant in Zwolle in The Netherlands. The SFC3000 Flow Computer was installed at the plant, which opened in 2010 and produces up to 3 million m3 of natural gas annually.