The drive to save weight from the flowmeter experts

There was a very interesting article about Shell in last months Fortune. It explains how Shell were approaching the next decade and building 4 different scenarios of oil price and availability and their investment reactions to those.  I’ve included the link at the end of this article.  Sign up for FlowSight, the Litre Meter newsletter.

It also detailed the effect on their platform design when the oil price suddenly reduced.  The most striking image is of two platforms designed in different eras.  Appomattox will soon be active in the Gulf of Mexico so would have been designed in 2013 with a Final Investment Decision (FID) in July 2015.  Vito was designed in early 2014, when oil was at $100.  By 2015, when the price had slipped, Vito was looking bulky. In early 2016 it was decided to slim it down to be profitable at $40.

A radical design overhaul slashed the top weight over the next year, from 40,000 tons to 8,900 tons. The shell team right-sized Vito, for a world of ‘peaking oil demand’.

The similarities with Litre Meter developing the FlowPod instrument seem tenuous – and we don’t have meters on either platform, which is unusual. But, the FlowPod was developed over 12 months from the original FPod Exd flow display.  The prime motive was size reduction and improved performance.  With that, and unclear at the start of the process, was a beneficial reduction in meter size and weight into the bargain.

The original purpose of the redesign was two-fold: firstly, to reduce the size of the instrument enclosure – mounting them remotely from the meter produced some unexpected challenges for our clients from time-to-time; secondly, to replace on obsolescent internal electronic component. It transpired that the new component was even bigger than the old one so a thorough instrumentation re-design was discussed, eliminating the large isolator and taking the benefit of a reduced enclosure size. This wasn’t an easy task and soon we were down the road of a ground-up redesign encompassing the traditional sensor which now had to be part of an Exd system.

With a new sensor every cap was also redesigned and there was a knock-on effect to the VFF body. We coupled this refinement with a desire to provide our customers with more standard meters ‘off-the-shelf’ shifting our traditional 80% bespoke/20% standard to 80/20 standard design vs custom, offering better availability.
When the dust had settled the new VFF, although having the same flow rate ranges, had a standardised Pressure Balanced Chamber design with a redesigned sensor, a compact display dubbed FlowPod certified Exd and over 114,000 different standard designs.
Litre Meter have analysed our customer’s requirements which has resulted in the various meter sizes being available in most appropriate connection sizes and styles. For example:

VFF flowmeter sizes and selected threaded connections

The sheer range of choice, which also encompasses body & cap materials, seal materials and instrumentation has effectively designed out the need for customization. Drawings are available for over 114,000 different VFF configurations – including

  • General Arrangement,
  • Parts List and
  • Lifting Diagrams, together with a
  • STEP file, allowing instant modelling.

Lead times are reduced, enabling customers to bring their projects to fruition earlier. There is a dedicated program that enables Litre Meter and their distributors to select and configure flowmeter solutions quicker and more accurately.

All the VFF range are designed around the Pressure Balance Chamber.  Cap and body sizes have been rationalised and minimum pressure ratings increased. For example, the most popular 1/2″NPT female body is now rated to 530 bar rather than 414 bar previously, increasing it’s usability just by varying bolting material.

Here are two identically ranged meters with 1/2″NPT female connections:

The older FPod on the left dwarfs the more compact FlowPod and rationalised body and cap.

Instrument weight plummets from 5 kg to 1.2 kg and display enclosure diameter reduces from 6.5 to 3.5 inches.  Stainless steel is now standard.   Here’s a quick comparison:

FlowPod benefits

We think this clearly demonstrates Litre Meter’s commitment to continuous improvement, matching Shell’s dramatic reductions on the Vito project. Fortune article.

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