Michigan City, Indiana
In June of 2018, engineers at Dwyer Instruments in Michigan City, Indiana, implemented a “simple modification to current parts” that had taken nearly three months of CIVS computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model development and investigation alongside Dwyer professionals to arrive at—and the results surpassed all expectations.
“I was amazed by how quickly the problem was solved and the significant improvement this will have on our ability to manufacture our new Insertion Magmeter going forward,” said Bob Moss, Director of Engineering and New Product Development at Dwyer. “I shared my excitement with our senior team and emphasized how important this collaboration is to Dwyer. Without the alliance with PNW’s CIVS, we could have encountered significant challenges manufacturing this product.”
The phenomenon under investigation involved an output reading (a “K-factor”) from an insertion electromagnetic flow meter (or magmeter), a device that can be installed into pipes to measure the fluid velocity of conductive liquids such as water. Dwyer engineers had, through much experimentation, observed an unexpected decrease in the K-factor that could result in nonrepeatable readings, increasing the difficulty of automatic calibration to precise measurement. Knowing that a better understanding of the fluid flow field around the magmeter was needed, but lacking sufficient computational resources for the needed simulations, Dwyer brought the phenomenon to CIVS as a collaborative project.
Using specific Dwyer-provided physical data, CIVS staff and student Dr. Armin Silaen and Mr. Haibo Ma worked closely with Dr. Shilei Ma, a research engineer at Dwyer, modeled both the instrumentation and the environments involved in the phenomenon, and applied computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to analyze the conditions under which the unexpected K-factor readings appeared.
By modeling the measurement process, conducting various sensitivity studies, and performing numerous simulations under different model configurations, CIVS engineers discovered that the unexpected K-factor readings were a result of unstable fluid flow around the electrodes in the transition of water from laminar flow (“smooth, slower flow”) to turbulent flow. Further parametric studies provided direction for optimized solutions, validated both by CFD modeling and real-world experimental results. The selected solution reduced the time to calibrate by 50% and eliminated scrap related to calibration. The improvement was so dramatic that the solution was implemented in production in less than one week.
CIVS Director Dr. Chenn Zhou summed up the collaboration outcomes by noting (not for the first time), “CFD is a powerful tool for gaining fundamental insights into physical phenomena; it’s useful in achieving foresight–in answering ‘what if’ questions; and it’s efficient and cost-effective. The close interactions with Dwyer have made for a successful collaboration, and we look forward to more future productive collaborations.”
Dwyer Instruments, based in Michigan City, Indiana, is a leading designer and manufacturer of innovative control and sensor instrumentation for such markets as HVAC, water and wastewater, powder and bulk, and more, and holds more than 650 technical patents.