Flow Meter Calibration

December 20, 2021

What is Flow Meter Calibration and why do you need it?

There are multiple benefits a business operation may derive from being able to accurately measure and track their fuel and other high-value fluid resources. Flow meters are an essential element of any good Fuel Management System (FMS) and have the potential to be of great value to your operations, enabling you to make significant savings (in both fuel and dollars). However, it is vital for volumes measured and reported by your flow meter and FMS to be accurate, because “You can’t manage, what you can’t accurately meter”.

To properly manage your fuels and high-value liquid assets, you need to be able to confidently verify fuel delivery amounts, fuel movements, etc. Your fluid receiving and dispensing data need to be appropriately accurate, and that means ensuring your flow meters are regularly maintained and calibrated.

What are flow meters?

What are flow meters

A flow meter is an instrument or device used to measure the volumetric or mass, linear or non-linear flow rate of a gas or liquid. These devices can be installed on both the receiving and dispensing sides of your onsite fluid stores and are used to measure the amount of fluid or gas flowing through a pipe.

Flow meters play a central role in the accurate measurement of fuel and other high-value fluid resources that are moved during fluid transfers. These transfers might include receipt of fuel deliveries from a supplier, transfer of fuel stores from one site location to another, and the refuelling of fleet vehicles, machinery, and plant.

Why use a flow meter?

Flow meters are installed and calibrated on the dispense side to allow your business to capture intelligence regarding the quantity of liquid going into each vehicle in your fleet, or each piece of machinery or item of plant equipment. These flow meters enable businesses to:

  • control fuel security
  • analyse fuel consumption
  • reduce waste
  • maximise the Fuel Tax Credits or other government rebates your business is entitled, or able, to claim
  • optimise vehicle, machinery, or system performance

What is flow meter calibration?

Flow meters are precision instruments and, despite being built tough, the accuracy of even the most robust flow meters will slip with the general wear-and-tear sustained through constant use. When this occurs, your flow meter will cease to provide accurate measurements, making it impossible to correctly reconcile accounts or track the access and use of fluids.

Calibrating your flow meter involves comparing measurements taken by a standardised measurement device to those recorded by your flow meter, and adjusting the required settings on your flow meter to bring it into line with the manufacturer’s specifications.

How are flow meters calibrated?

Our experienced service technicians will take one of two approaches to flow meter calibration, depending upon whether the calibrated flow meter is being used in high-flow or low-flow applications.

  • For high-flow applications, our technicians use a frequently calibrated precision master meter. The liquid is passed through both the on-site flow meter and the master meter, and the on-site flow meter is manually adjusted to bring it into alignment with the master meter (within a specified accuracy threshold).
  • For low-flow applications, our technicians use a calibrated vessel to ensure a specific amount of liquid is metered. The on-site flow meter is then adjusted until the electronic pulse output matches the volume of liquid collected in the calibrated vessel.

Why do you need a calibrated flow meter?

Flow Meter Calibration - Flow Meter Calibration

Regular maintenance and calibration of your flow meters is vital to effectively and efficiently managing your fuels and high-value liquids to increase savings, optimise business outcomes, and improve your business’s bottom line. It is possible to calibrate flow meters for all lubricants, fuels, and other liquids, however, many of our clients prioritise calibrating flow meters associated with diesel tanks and pumps and diesel fuel nozzles. It simply offers the best ROI.

Here are the key reasons why it makes sense for businesses to ensure their flow meters are properly maintained and regularly calibrated:

  • To ensure you receive what you ordered and only pay for what you receive

Flow meters used for fuel receiving, high flow, or tanker unloading flow metering must be regularly maintained, so that they remain as accurate as possible. This helps to ensure you receive the amount of fuel or other high-value liquid asset you ordered, and you only pay for the fluids you receive.

It’s acknowledged that variations of 2% to 6% between measured fuel volumes are ‘normal’. Even a ‘normal’ variation could be costing your business significant amounts – for example, if your business operation receives one tanker delivery a week, that equates to a potential saving of over $50,000 per year.

  • To monitor downstream fluid consumption and achieve a full reconciliation between the quantities acquired and those consumed

Receiving accurate figures from your flow meters unlocks the ability to monitor downstream fluid consumption and achieve a full reconciliation. This is essential for determining the exact quantity of a resource acquired and consumed by your business during daily operations.

  • To capture intelligence on the quantities of liquid being dispensed

Flow meters are installed and calibrated on the fuel dispensing side to allow your business to capture accurate volume data for liquids dispensed into assets. This provides valuable intelligence regarding the quantity of liquid going into each vehicle in your fleet, or each piece of machinery or item of plant, and unlocks actionable fleet optimisation insights.

Flow meters also provide businesses with robust theft and equipment degradation controls, and enable them to fully analyse fuel consumption, reduce waste, maximise the Fuel Tax Credits or other government rebates your business is entitled to/able to claim, and to optimise vehicle, machinery, or system performance.

  • To ensure rules and requirements for measurement and transfer of custody of high-value liquids are met

Many countries have governing bodies that have instituted legally enforceable rules for the measurement and transfer of custody of high-value liquids. For example, in Australia, flow meters associated with custody transfer must be inspected and calibrated annually, in accordance with the requirements of the National Measurement Institute, because of the key role they play in custody transfer processes.

  • To enable you to maximise your Fuel Tax Credit entitlement and other government rebates

Regular flow meter calibration, and quality Fluid Resource Management Software, allows you to report accurate and audit-ready data to your regional governing authority. In different countries this ability to report dramatically affects either the buy price of fuel consumed by off-road vehicles, or government rebates or credits when reporting is completed. Improving the correctness of your metering and reporting processes ensures your business can claim it’s full entitlement – which puts significant money back in your pocket.

Fuel Tax Credits (rebates or discounts) can be accessed in many countries for off-road industrial fuel use. In fact, businesses are generally able to claim a rebate worth 15-40% of the cost of fuel, if they can prove the fuel was utilised by the appropriate type of machine, performing the proper task. Maximising the fuel-related government rebates or tax credits a business can access is often worth millions of dollars per year for larger operations, which could potentially offset the cost of a Fluid Asset Management solution entirely.

Our ResTrack RMS fuel management system software automatically gathers and reports upon the required data for businesses to maximise their access to rebates and tax incentives, without requiring any time investment from equipment operators or system administrators to achieve it. The time savings and access to trustworthy audit-ready data offers significant additional savings just from avoiding the admin.

  • To obtain the greatest Return on Investment

When acquiring fuels and other high-value liquid assets, such as service fluids, even seemingly-minute errors in flow meter measurements can result in losses numbering in the millions of dollars each year.

Having your flow meters regularly maintained and properly calibrated helps to ensure that you only pay for the fluids you receive, and that the correct amount of the correct liquid goes into the correct machine. Regular calibration is mandatory in custody-transfer scenarios for certain fluids.

The relatively small cost of calibrating flow meter instrumentation represents an excellent ROI considering the significant savings gained by ensuring correct resource delivery and dispensing volumes, maximised fuel tax credit rebates, accurate, actionable reporting, and minimised administrative burden.

  • To help prolong the life of your equipment

Regular flow meter calibration forms part of a preventative maintenance approach designed to reduce the risk of equipment failure and unplanned downtime events, by helping you to identify underlying issues with your infrastructure before any costly damage occurs. Regular servicing, including routine calibration, also aligns with OEM maintenance requirements and helps to prolong the life of flow meters as well as associated pumping, air elimination, filtration hardware, and other fuel infrastructure.

It is for this reason that businesses may choose to put a schedule in place to accommodate the regular calibration of all your business’s flow meters, rather than just those flow meters installed on fuelling systems.

  • To collect accurate data for more efficient and effective fuel management

Flow meter calibration can improve flow meter accuracy, which enhances the value of your fuel management data and ensures the data available to you is accurate enough for you to confidently rely on, use to make informed business decisions, and generate reports that provide valuable insights.

Accurate data is essential for tracking fuel receipt and movement – such as ensuring that fuel deliveries are correctly measured, that you’re getting the amount you’ve paid for, and that any fuel ‘losses’ can be quickly identified and corrected.

When used as part of a complete FMS, ensuring your flow meter is accurately calibrated makes it easier to track patterns of use, fuel loss and identify problem vehicles or pieces of machinery. This intelligence also helps with fleet maintenance by enabling early identification of potential issues and allowing preventative maintenance to be undertaken, such as identifying faults within fuelling systems before they cause the system to fail and take the fuel facility offline, causing potential delays to normal business operations. This offers yet another significant source of savings.

Banlaw ResTrack™ fuel management system software provides a very convenient, accurate, cost effective and practical means by which to prepare supporting data for Fuel Tax Credit claims. With the rates for Fuel Tax Credits regularly changing, it is now more important than ever for businesses to maintain accurate, time-stamped, and auditable records identifying how each litre or gallon of fuel was consumed.

Banlaw’s flow meter calibration services offer timely and expert assistance with all aspects of flow meter use and calibration.

Banlaw’s Flow Meter Calibration service helps users of industrial fluids minimise waste, extend the life of fluid transfer hardware, and meet mandatory reporting requirements in the countries they operate. Accurate and automated access to fluid transfer data contributes to profitability, and dramatically reduces administrative burden.

Our experienced service technicians will visit your worksite and undertake an inspection of the general condition of your flow meters and surrounding infrastructure. They will then calibrate your flow meter to within the manufacturer’s specified accuracy tolerance.

While on-site, our service technicians will identify whether your system’s design is optimal and provide you with actionable feedback on your metering system’s general condition, including observations of any defects or areas of concern with the surrounding fuel infrastructure.

Contact Banlaw today to find out more about how our flow meter calibration services can help you manage your fluid assets and gather the Fluid Asset Intelligence your business needs

For more information on how we can help your business improve fuel transfer and monitoring capabilities, so you can obtain more accurate figures on fuel movement and usage, track every drop of liquid, and make significant savings on both fuel and money, contact Banlaw today. Click here for Australian and international contact details, or to find a local distributor. Alternatively, click here to complete our online contact form and a Banlaw representative will contact you shortly.