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Digitalisation of flow measurement and its benefits

The importance of digital connectivity and hygiene in the industrial sector, particularly in ensuring product quality and meeting regulatory standards, can’t be overstated.

The benefits of real-time data accuracy and quality assurance in digitalised processes is a critical part of manufacturing, with simplicity and effectiveness of a plug-and-play installation being one of the more obvious benefits.

With the potential for seamless integration with existing systems, ifm’s Hygienic Flow Meter with IO-Link presents a cutting-edge solution for the continued evolution of monitoring technology.  

ifm specialise in manufacturing sensors and control systems, with a wide range of products on offer for food and beverage manufacturing.

IO-Link is a standardised, serial communication protocol used in industrial automation, serving as an interface between sensors or actuators and the higher-level control system.

Overall, IO-Link offers benefits such as increased flexibility, easier configuration, enhanced diagnostics, and seamless integration, making it a popular choice for industrial automation applications.

For example, the ifm Hygienic Flow Meter with IO-Link is helping to revolutionise the way food products such as milk, wine, offering cutting-edge accuracy and real-time data transmission capabilities. 

Glenn Thornton, ifm’s national product and brand manager, spoke about the need for such technology and the role it plays in helping to future-proof businesses. 

“Real-time data is a very important point for us at ifm, and this solution provides transferable, readable, and actionable insights,” said Thornton. 

“That traceability creates a new level of improved quality assurances. Every aspect of your operation is within reach, empowering you to make informed decisions and optimise your processes like never before.”

Gone are the days of relying on multiple measuring points, which in turn creates the opportunity to redistribute crucial labour elsewhere. 

With IO-Link technology, the Hygienic Flow Meter ensures seamless digital data transmission, providing complete transparency from start to finish. 

The Hygienic Flow Meter offers a wide variety of applications, from detecting flow rate and total volume, to monitoring flow direction and medium presence. This device delivers a comprehensive overview of your production line. 

Also, with conductivity and temperature data transmission, you’ll have everything you need to maintain quality and consistency.

“We understand the importance of simplicity in the workflow,”
said Thornton. 

“That’s why we’ve designed the Hygienic Flow Meter for effortless integration.” 

With standard installation dimensions, a range of seals and adapters, and a user-friendly app-based interface, making for an efficient set-up. 

“Plus, our patented cables and M12 connection ensure a fast, waterproof, and error-free connection to your data infrastructure,” said Thornton. 

“Quality is non-negotiable in the food industry. That’s why the Hygienic Flow Meter undergoes rigorous testing to ensure long-lasting performance.”

From temperature shock tests to pressure peak simulations, this device is built to withstand the most
demanding conditions. 

“So, you can trust that your measurements are accurate, every time,” added Thornton. 

“As a magnetic-inductive flow meter, the Hygienic Flow Meter is at the forefront of innovation in the food industry, by providing precise measurements and real-time data transmission, it’s helping set a new standard for efficiency and reliability.”

The solution also plays a significant role in the context of digitalisation and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) initiatives. 

One of the main advantages of IO-Link is its ability to provide extensive configuration options and diagnostic information for connected devices, such as when paired with ifm’s Hygienic Flow Meters. 

This compatibility allows for remote parameterisation, monitoring, and troubleshooting of sensors and actuators, enhancing overall system efficiency and reliability. 

“What you have is immediate notifications of any deviations, any worrisome fluctuations, any erroneous fluctuations, and alike,” said Thornton. 

“Along with dosing, colouring, mixing, and batching.

“The digital signal is a lot purer than what is previously been done.” 

Thornton also said part of the revolution being provided by the Hygienic Flow Meters come from the materials used in the solution and the ease with which it can be put into practice. 

“It’s as simple as one single plug in the back. You plug it in, and you are now into the digital world,” he said. 

The digitalisation of the flow meter also helps to reduce the risks associated with human error, while also allowing for timely responses to any issues which may arise. 

On top of this, the Hygienic Flow Meter with IO-Link also has a protection rating of IP67 (waterproof) and IP69K (protection against ingress of dust, high temperature, and high-pressure water.)

Both these ratings show the solution is able to withstand robust washdown routines, which are very common and supremely important to the manufacture of foods and beverages. 

The Hygienic Flow Meter is also perfectly suited to be paired with other ifm product solutions such as conductivity sensors, pressure sensors, and temperature sensors 

The flow meter’s ability to provide detailed device information and support for data exchange also enables intelligent and connected manufacturing processes, leading to improved productivity, flexibility, and predictive maintenance.

With its advanced features, seamless integration, and unwavering reliability, it’s poised to transform the way you measure and monitor your
production processes. 

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