Why and When do your Flowmeters need Calibration?
Failure to calibrate flowmeters can negatively impact performance, while calibrating too frequently can result in excessive costs without providing any benefits. So, the question is, how do you determine if calibration is needed and what the frequency should be?
In many process plants, flowmeters are calibrated annually or more frequently simply because that’s the way it was done in the past. New instruments and technologies, combined with careful planning and study, can allow plants to calibrate flowmeters at an optimum frequency, resulting in improved operations and cost savings.
A flowmeter that is not measuring properly can cause many problems. In a custody-transfer application involving crude oil or natural gas, even the smallest error can cost a customer millions of dollars a year. In a food processing plant, a similar error can adversely affect the quality and safety of food products, resulting in the costs that go along with such failures.
Because flow measurements are so critical to many processes, the industry standard is to calibrate annually, even though that might not be necessary. In many cases, this is done in an attempt to demonstrate to a quality auditor that instruments within the process are under control. For most companies, annual calibration is performed as a traditional ritual with no scientific basis behind it, other than it being the longest duration of time they are willing to risk before finding a potential problem.
In many instances, yearly calibrations are not necessary, as some flowmeters require calibration only once every three or four years depending on the process fluid, operation, and criticality. In other cases, a flowmeter may require calibration much more frequently, possibly on a monthly basis, to maintain a safe, efficient, or regulatory compliant operation. It’s also important to realize that calibration intervals are not always fixed, meaning that they might fluctuate based on usage or historical performance.
How do you determine when to calibrate a flowmeter? By setting up a calibration plan that follows best practices for flow calibration.
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