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Bürkert FloWave starts field tests in the dairy industry

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By Jenny Eagle+

27-Jun-2014
Last updated the 27-Jun-2014 at 11:59 GMT

Bürkert FloWave, which measures the flow of a liquid in a pipe, is being tested in the dairy industry and has requests from a chocolate manufacturer.

The technology, which will be launched in September, is based on SAW (Surface Acoustic Waves) flow-rate measurement.

SAW technology

SAW avoids using sensors in a measurement tube that come into contact with a liquid, which is ideal for manufacturers where hygiene and cleanability of systems is paramount.

The technology was a runner up at this year’s Hermes Awards 2014 at Hannover Messe in April, Germany.

Volker Erbe, product manager, sensors, Bürkert, told FoodProductionDaily, existing methods for flow measurement have weaknesses and limits in usage and developing identical technology did not bring advantages for users.

The FloWave can be used everywhere where you have milk running and you need to know the volume of it. Not just milk coming in but all production and totalized volume, which manufacturers have to control because each litre of milk is paid for and dosed to make cream or cheese,” he said.

If Bürkert is to move forward it has to think about optimizing resource usage and knowledge. You cannot have one development team knowing everything.”

The FloWave systems are assembled in Triembach-au-Val near Strasbourg, France. They detect solids, clean water, acidity and measure the nature and properties of a liquid. The R&D team already did some lab tests on chocolate.

Hermes Awards 2014

John van Loon, global marketing, hygienic, Bürkert, said any failure of a product can be a disaster for the market.

Disadvantages of EMF against FloWave

• Sensor parts (electrodes, sealing) inside the pipe

• Liner needed and suitable liner material is to be selected

• Electrodes needed and to be selected in shape and material

• In some cases grounding ring needed

• Minimum conductivity required

• Deposits causes measurement errors

• High power consumption

• High weight

• Large transmitters

• Very sensitive to air if included in the liquid

• Real empty pipe detection only with 3rd electrode in the bottom of the measurement tube

• Medium including magnetic particles is not possible to measure

• Resistivity of electrode, liner, sealing has to be observed

If you bring a product to market which is taken off the shelves due to a recall, that affects the trust in that product,” he added.

FloWave can be installed without any restriction – it won’t affect their products.

It was a real accomplishment for us to be recognized in the Hermes Awards. We have carried out field tests in the dairy and chocolate market in France.

We did different tests on chocolate in the lab and we’ve been approached by one of the largest chocolate manufacturers to partner with them.

Dairy industry

Milk testing has been done and now we have to qualify and industrialise this product for dairy. Taking a piece of technology from an R&D perspective to an industrial product is the biggest step we have to take.

When we measured milk in the diary factory we detected air bubbles in the cream which the company didn’t know about. We are now looking to create flow sensors which we can use in several applications. There was no device like this before on the market just EMF (electromagnetic flowmeters).”

Hannover Messe 2014 recognised the FLOWave for being ‘the world's first surface acoustic wave device for measuring fluid flow rates and characteristics in stainless steel pipes that does not involve the insertion or placement of sensor components inside the measurement channel.’

The acoustic waves are generated along the interior surface of the pipe by a specially developed piezoelectric interdigital transducer. The measuring elements do not come into contact with the fluid medium and can be re-used.

The measurement channel is not narrowed or obstructed in any way because no moving or fixed components protrude into it. The device has very low maintenance costs and is suited to a wide range of uses, particularly hygiene applications.

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