A smart VSE flowmeter with IO.flow®: Plug-in module integrates flowmeter into IO-Link systems

The IO-Link communication standard is the optimal solution for efficiently exchanging sensor data at field level in industrial systems. VSE Volumentechnik GmbH is now launching the new IO.flow® converter: an IO-Link extension for all VSE flowmeters. The result is a smart volume measuring device, which is either available as a complete system or can be integrated into existing systems as an upgrade/add-on. In addition to digital process data, the plug'n'play module also provides maintenance and diagnostic data, raising the market leader's high-precision flowmeters to Industry 4.0 level.

For volume and flow measurement in positive displacement flowmeters, quadrature signals have been an excellent standard solution for accurate sensor evaluation to date. The possibilities by using IO-Link are much more extensive. By using the IO.flow® converter, the sensor can transmit the above-mentioned process data to the higher-level controller and communicate bidirectionally. This includes, for example, identification data of the converter as well as the paired flow meter, parameter settings, diagnostic data and events. In addition, the technical complexity of switching and wiring in the field is significantly reduced, as many flowmeters can be connected and queried collectively via the IO-Link master. Additional frequency-to-analogue transducers or counter modules, which must be separately configured, are therefore no longer required.

Very interesting for the user are the freely parameterisable calculation and filter functions of the process values, which are specially designed for flow measurement. In the standard configuration, volume and flow rate are calculated using the calibration factor (K-factor) and interpolation factor (IPF) and output in a selectable unit. For applications with higher accuracy requirements, the integrated linearisation function is useful, which considers the characteristic calibration curve of the flowmeter. For applications with strong flow pulsation, the measured value can be stabilised with pulse and frequency filters.

Collected diagnostic data and events are reported directly to the higher-level automation system (e.g. PLC). Also for preventive maintenance the events "flow operating hours" and "total volume" can be used to estimate upcoming maintenance and thus minimise device failure due to flowmeter wear. Through the identification functions, the serial number and type code of the flowmeter can be used to directly identify the sensor in question. In case of failure of the IO.flow® converter, the Data Storage mechanism enables an easy device replacement without data loss.

A detection of invalid flow conditions has been implemented to immediately detect errors in the plant and in the process. This includes adjustable flow limits, the overrun of the maximum flow range of the flowmeter (e.g. in case of flow and pressure peaks), or an optional warning in case of negative flow. The module provides the user with helpful information and ensures a reliable system operation.

The IO.flow® converter is ideally ordered directly in combination with the paired flowmeter. The required operating parameters and identification data can then already be pre-defined by VSE, so that the system is directly ready for operation. With the appropriate configuration, the IO.flow® converter can be used flexibly in combination with all VSE flowmeters. This also includes flowmeters with a single-channel pulse output.

The IO.flow® functions can be used with VSI or VHM gear flowmeters as well as with the more economical VSE EF ecoflow sensors. Likewise, the modules are the ideal smart sensor add-on for the RS series screw counters or the VTR turbine sensors. The IO.flow® module was intentionally not integrated into the preamplifier but planned as a separate device. Hereby, flowmeters in existing systems can be retrofitted and made IO-Link-capable and benefit from the multiple additional functions.

The IO.flow® converter consists of an aluminium housing with two M12 connectors on the side, to which the flowmeter and the IO-Link master are connected. The wiring is done with conventional shielded M12 cables. Both the connectors and the housing are designed for use in oily environments to protect the internal electronics from moisture.

Published: June, 20 2022