Different Type of Industrial Flow Indicator Instruments

Different Type of Industrial Flow Indicator Instruments

An industrial flow indicator will gauge any fluid that flows through them. They are also known as flow meters, flow gauges, or flow sensors. Many industrial meters exist as gauging units against time. Also, they can be used to gauge fluids passing through them continually.

Sometimes the flow meters will need to open and close the valve. This is when it is used as an industrial flow switch. There are several types of industrial flow meter tools. In this article, we will look at the different types and their uses. All meters are in two major categories; the mass flow meters and the volumetric flow meters.

Mass Flow Meters

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These industrial meters gauge the mass of a fluid that passes through them. They are further divided into thermal mass and Coriolis meters. All the other meters fall under the volumetric flow meters. 

Thermal Mass Flow Meters

These meters work in a condition where the fluid has a certain degree of temperature. The meter works by sensing the amount of heat a fluid loses over a certain distance and time. Since the fluids’ properties are known, the meter can determine the mass of fluid that has passed through it each second. 

Coriolis Meters

These are the most accurate industrial meters in the market today. They apply to all large scale and small scale industries. They require low maintenance. Also, fluid conditions do not affect their performance. 

 The Coriolis meters work when the moving fluid pushes an oscillating pendulum to its direction of flow. The fluid’s resistance in both directions causes the tube to twist. The sensor records the twisting and converts it into a mass flow rate. 

Differential Pressure Meters

These are the pioneers in the flow meter industry. But, they have evolved to suit the needs of the flow industry. They have a wide application in various industries. 

Positive Displacement Industrial Meter

These meters directly measure the fluid volume as it passes through a closed channel. They are highly used in industries dealing with paints, adhesives, and petrochemicals. The meters will give you a long time service. Also, they are very accurate in all fluid conditions. 

Turbine Meters

These volumetric flow meters are ideal for self-lubricating fluids. They are used in custody transfer in many industries. That is why they are common in the chemical and gas industries. They can detect meager flow rates that the vortex meter cannot detect. 

Vortex Meters

These meters work as a barrier in the flow channel. The meters have no moving parts, so there are minimal chances of breaking down. Also, they require little maintenance. The Vortex flow meters are common where highly viscous fluids apply. Their accuracy ranges are high. Since the meters were invented, they have gone through much development. Currently, they are mainly in use in the oil and gas and saturated steam industries. 

Industrial Flow Switches

Sometimes, a flow indicator may act as a flow switch. Under these categories, you can trigger an action or stop a fluid’s motion in a channel. The most common use of industrial flow switches is in pumps. But, there are several other uses, as you will see below. 

Thermal Dispersion Flow Switches 

These switches work as thermal mass flow meters. They have no moving parts. Their principle is how the molecules of fluid can carry heat from a heated sensor within the flow channel. The readings are gauged by the wattage amount you need to keep the sensor at a specific heat range. 

Paddle Type Flow Switches

These switches have a metallic or plastic strip in which a fluid is pushed to another position. When the strip is pushed, it completes a circuit and activates an alarm response or an action.  

Oil Flow Switches

These industrial flow switches are common in the oil and gas industries. They can either be paddle or thermal switches. They are made to handle aggressive media like oils and gases. Also, they work under normal and very high heat that standard switches cannot withstand.

Mechanical Flow Switches

These switches have one or more moving parts. The parts move when they get in contact with a flowing fluid. The motion of the moving parts completes a circuit making the system take action. However, these meters need constant maintenance and replacement after a period of time. 

Non-Intrusive and Ultrasonic Flow Switches

These switches are placed outside a flow channel. The sensors ping a signal forth and back to the sensor. The particles and bubbles within the channel will reflect and refract the signals as they travel within the flow channel. Then the switches use the Doppler’s effect to calculate the flow rate. 

These switches are not suitable for clean gases and liquids. Their uses are majorly in wastewater treatment. 

Calorimetric Flow Switches

These are just like the thermal dispersion switches. But, the difference is that these switches use two sensors. The second sensor gauges the heat difference of the fluid that has traveled from the heating sensor. Here, you will not need to check the wattage needed to keep the sensor at a specific heat range. When there is a huge difference, it means the speed of the fluid is low. Yet, the difference is decreased as the speed of the fluid increases. 

Pneumatic Flow Switches

These are types of mechanical or paddle switches, but instead, they work with an air valve. They are applicable in a gaseous environment. You can use these w=switches when the gas pressure is too low. 

Rotary Flow Switches

These are all industrial switches with rotating blades immersed in the flow channel. They are mainly in a paddlewheel or multi-blade design. They come in the form of paddlewheel, piston, or impeller designs.

Adjustable Flow Switches

These are flow switches in which a user can recalibrate without disassembling. Thus, they are easy to use, and you can apply them to various fluid properties. You will only need a screwdriver to perform the recalibration. 


You can find industrial flow indicators inform of flow switches and industrial meters. There are times that the instrument will work as both. If you want to save money and installation time, you should select an instrument that serves both purposes. 

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