Why is Flow Measurement Not Very Accurate?

Flow measurement is less accurate compared to level, temperature and pressure measurement.

This is due to the consideration of various parameters while measuring a flow. These parameters, such as the accuracy of the orifice plate diameter, the pipeline diameter their operating parameters such as temperature and pressure do not remain same in the process operation as the design parameters.

Generally, an accuracy of 5% is permitted in a flow measurement.

This is quite true, but I think that 5% accuracy is too high. Classical flow measurement throw FE and differential pressure transmitter have a loss of accuracy (even if sometimes is used for fiscal metering) but other technologies of measurement can have a better accuracy i.e. ultrasonic, mass flowrate ect.

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Thank you very much for the contribution.

Flow measurement accuracy depend of your meter and standard…
In fiscal metering (Pay meter) never allow 5%


Sometime ago Emerson has realeased a guide for DP Flow measurement. I think that it can be usefull during the definition of a DP flow. I share it with you :slight_smile:


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Perhaps the most perfect of all; flow technologies is that of positive displacement.
The only way for flow to pass through the meter is by causing registration, the movement of the elements and there is no open flow path between inlet and outlet. The swept volume is dictated by the geometry which does not vary with flow rate nor any other effect. Theoretically they are potentially perfectly accurate and perfectly linear at any achievable flow rate from zero to infinity.

In practise most, but not all have working clearances that allow a proportion of the flow to pass through the clearances without causing registration.

This “slip flow” is variable dependent on the flow path and flow rate or pressure drop. It is only through the impact on slip flow that anything can affect the performance (bar temperature and pressure, easily correct for).

Sliding vane and oval gear meters, perhaps the least well performing PD meters are expected to deliver (+/-)0,1% of reading over 80/100:1 turndowns.

The Brooks bi-rotor is one of the most accurate due to the sequencial clearances which limit slip flow significanlt and I have seen claims that they can achieve accuracies of (+/-)0,01% of reading, though it was not said over what flowrange.

The PD principle is used to calibrate all flow technologies, Ball and Piston provers for fiscal applications calibrating PD meters, multi chord US, coriolis, Turbine etc. In gas metering it is the bell prover and for low flows of liquids and gases the flying meniscus and flying bubble methods.

Another very accurate meter is the reciprocating piston meter which has flexible seals between the pistons and the cylinders virtually eliminating slip flow. These are used, for example when filling vehicles with petrol or diesel and have proven resistant to all attempts by modern flow meters such as coriolis to replace them because of their accuracy and robust calibration i.e. lack of calibration drift over time with wear.


I would argue that a Dynamic Flow computer is more than accurate. This is a system that incorporates pressure temp and Flow and performs a calculations that we use at our facility. Also you could program your DCS to do the same calculations providing much more accurate flow measurement

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How can we program in DCS to achieve flow measurement accuracy? Are you talking about compensation of pressure and temperature? Please explain.

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So we recently just did it while I am not a DCS Tech. We had a loop that we were going to put back into service from our refining partner but we didn’t have an adequate " custody meter" what was in line was far out dated and obsolete. Well within that loop we had a PT FT and TT.

Essentially we made our DCS into a Flow computer to achieve more accurate flow measurement by using the pressure and temperature to compensate the flow. It worked out nicely because it meant much less work for me lol.

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Okay, thank you for the information.

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