Flowmeter Solutions in The Spotlight

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IEN Europe interviewed Trevor Forster, Managing Director at Titan Enterprises, to understand how much flowmeters impact on today’s manufacturing market

Test & Measurement, Industry 4.0

Flowmeter Solutions in The Spotlight
Flowmeter Solutions in The Spotlight
Flowmeter Solutions in The Spotlight
Flowmeter Solutions in The Spotlight
Flowmeter Solutions in The Spotlight
Flowmeter Solutions in The Spotlight
Flowmeter Solutions in The Spotlight
Flowmeter Solutions in The Spotlight

1. Mr. Forster, could you give us an overview of your company and products?

Titan was formed in 1981 with the intention of producing competitive, high quality mini-turbine flowmeters for OEM customers. I had been designing small turbine meters for several years and wanted to improve their usability, performance and marketability. In the early days these were highly specialised designs such as radar cooling circuit flowmeters for the nose cones in Harrier jump jets and engine fuel meters on the Blue Ribbon winning Virgin Atlantic Challenger II. As our customer base grew so did our range of flowmeters to satisfy differing operating parameters. We currently design and manufacture small bore ultrasonic, turbine, high pressure, oval gear and high temperature meters. Ninety five percent of our sales are repeat business and to date we have sold well over half a million flowmeters of various types to over sixty countries. We pride ourselves in offering optimised application solutions in medium to larger quantities where perhaps a standard meter does not quite fit the bill. This tailoring of products results in improvements to our standard products as well as providing secure supply of an optimised solution to our client. Obviously if a standard meter is fit for the purpose we will gladly specify one but often fitting a custom connecter or changing our calibration procedure will result in faster installation and commissioning. Our Atrato® small bore ultrasonic meter is currently our flagship product. I believe the technology to be the best small bore ultrasonic available. The current Atrato range can measure flows down to 2ml/min and up to 20 litres per minute. We are working on devices with ranges from 150microlitres to 60 litres per minute as well as an IP67 all stainless steel industrial device, clamp-on and low cost all PEEK Pulsite® meters for OEM applications. Accuracies for some of these devices is better than 0.5% over a 50:1 flow range with an overall operating range of 400:1. We are currently working on several exciting projects with this technology to meet customers exacting needs with competitive non-invasive solutions.

2. Titan has 40 years of experience in Test & Measurement. What is the weight of this sector in the manufacturing industry?

Very little is manufactured or transported without involving flow measurement at some point. The flow measurement market is enormous growing by over seven percent a year and expected to be worth something like eight billion dollars by 2020. So although a flowmeter may look like an insignificant little piece of instrumentation it is essential to ensure the quality of the goods we buy and in many respects our modern way of life. The anticipated number of domestic water flowmeters installed is forecast to exceed thirty million units by the same date. You rely on the accuracy of a flowmeter every time you buy fuel for your car, in fact most vehicles now have a flowmeter to meter fuel consumption. In manufacturing plants - flowmeters are used to measure and meter a vast and growing number of applications including the amount of oil or water in food production, the volume of sulphur added to a vat of premium wine, the binding agent in your daily medicine tablet or the amount of drink in your bottle.

3. What does Titan philosophy, based on the statement "pushing the envelope by trying to do things a little different and better", consist of?

When Titan started we decided not to be a 'me-too' company but to do things differently. As an example miniature turbines at the time all had either plastic and metal or sapphire and metal bearings. Inevitably the softer material would wear, sometime quite quickly. We developed a bearing system that consisted of five sapphire parts that is extremely robust and offers outstanding durability. We were told this could not be done. This development lead to extremely reliable meters that would last for years without changing their calibration and although costing a small amount more than some competitive devices our miniature turbine has a far lower lifetime cost. This lateral thinking to give the customer a benefit is an example of the Titan philosophy. The Atrato® ultrasonic flowmeter is another example of Titan pushing the envelope by trying to do things differently and better. These meters operate on an entirely different principle to any other commercial ultrasonic meter . Using Atrato technology we can send an ultrasonic flow signal down a metre of 1mm bore tube and measure the velocity of the liquid in the tube. Send the signal round a 720° loop or even monitor a dripping tap attached to a domestic water meter. We have licensed an American medical company to use our Atrato technology for bolus measurement with a disposable meter currently undergoing clinical trials having achieved FDA approval earlier this year. We are not aware of any other device which uses a disposable ultrasonic meter and remains economic and desirable.

4. Titan is a flow meter solutions manufacturer. In which way are your products able to satisfy all the performance requirements?

We try hard to satisfy all of our customers meter requirements but obviously this is not always possible. As an example a major electronic component distributor came to us some 25 years ago complaining that the flow meter they were selling was unreliable. We bought some, tested them and then put them on long term life test. We then set about designing a meter that would keep the distributor happy. We succeeded in matching overall physical dimensions, flow ranges, pressure drop and number of pulses per litre. What we could not improve were the pipe connections. The original meter had a stepped pipe connection with barbs 4mm and 8mm diameter. Ours was 8mm and 12mm so not quite the same but the Titan designed meter lasted fifty times longer and is now one of their top sellers. To supply customers with an optimised flowmeter solution we tailor end fittings, cable lengths, cable terminations and connections, flow ranges, the number of pulses per litre, materials of construction or even meter pressure drop.

5. Which are the main markets where your products are most required? Do you consider the development of new market segments?

Our current customer base is so wide it drives our marketing people to distraction and reads like a list of industry categories. The majority of our customers are equipment manufacturers and not end users although this is a growing market for us. For any company to survive it must develop and expand into different markets. We are well aware of this and are constantly on the lookout for new product areas. We spend a high percentage of our turnover on new product development targeted at enabling Titan to penetrate existing applications more successfully and addressing an even wider range of market sectors.

6. Titan Enterprises reports growth in flow meter exports. Are your products designed to meet the foreign market needs? Do you also work for the local market?

The UK market is very important to us and this is where we launch all our products initially. However flow meters are fairly generic devices in terms of international requirements and we sell our products all around the world. Our export level has increased even further since that press release earlier in the year and is now over 50% of our turnover.

7. How do you face the low-cost rising realities that aspire to mine your market share?

The simple answer is innovation and reliability. Looking after existing customers while expanding market share is the essence of any well run business. Under promising and over delivering is part of our philosophy as is maintaining quality. You can buy a $1 miniature turbine on Ebay but unless your application wants less than a few hundred hours of accurate operation it is a waste of money. Sending an engineer to site to replace an unreliable $1 meter is not a viable option. We deliberately pitch our products in between the cheap stuff and the very expensive technologies. Our typical customer requires reliability and performance first and price second.

Posted on September 29, 2015 - (20877 views)
Titan Enterprises Ltd
5a Coldharbour Business Park
DT9 4JW Sherborne - United Kingdom
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