Installed Base and High Accuracy Keep Positive Displacement Gas Flowmeters Competitive, Finds New Flow Research Study

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Positive displacement gas flowmeters dominate the billing and utility applications for industrial plants and commercial buildings. Their installed base and high accuracy keep them competitive with other meters, according to a new Flow Research study on gas flow measurement.

Positive displacement flowmeter suppliers are adding improved features like higher precision components, more durable bearings, and smaller, lighter meters to remain competitive.

A new research study, The World Market for Gas Flow Measurement, 3rd Edition, by Flow Research ( finds substantial growth in the gas flow measurement market. According to this new study, the worldwide gas flowmeter market exceeded $1.7 billion in 2014. While traditional technology gas flowmeters revenues are still strong in this market, accounting for $930 million of the total, new-technology gas flowmeters made up $788 million of the market total. The positive displacement gas flowmeter market totaled just over $48 million in North America in 2014.

Positive displacement (PD) meters are highly accurate meters that are widely used for custody transfer applications. Within gas flow measurement, they are widely used for billing and utility applications for industrial plants and commercial buildings. The main types of PD meters used for these applications are diaphragm meters. However, rotary PD meters are displacing diaphragm meters for some gas applications.

Positive displacement flowmeters are workhorses in the flowmeter world — tough, reliable, economical, and do their job well for many important flow measurements that many people take for granted. Even though they face competition from new-technology meters in some segments, PD meters still have a large installed base and still provide the best solution for certain applications, are economical, and last for many years. Technology improvements for PD flowmeters are also occurring, e.g., higher precision components, more durable bearings, and smaller, lighter types of meters.

Accuracy and reliability continue to be the strongest driving forces behind the flowmeter market. This is especially important in custody transfer, which is also the fastest growing flowmeter market. Many industrial PD flowmeters have high accuracies, in the 0.2 percent range, exceeded only by Coriolis and some multipath ultrasonic flowmeters. Thus, some types of PD meters are widely used for custody transfer because they are both accurate and reliable. For residential and commercial utility PD meters, low cost and reliability are competitive factors.

Another competitive strength of PD meters over some other types of meters, including DP and turbine, is that PD meters excel at handling low flowrates and fluctuations in flowrates. This is another reason PD meters are widely used for residential and commercial billing and utility measurement. Flow Research has found that the PD market for municipal and industrial gas has a stable base and is expanding slightly due to population increases and industrial development.

A significant trend for billing meters is that end-users are increasingly looking for automated meter reading (AMR) systems to allow meters to be read from a remote location. AMR systems make it possible to read residential and commercial billing meters remotely, without having them read manually by personnel walking up to each meter to get a reading.

This study, The World Market for Gas Flow Measurement, 3rd Edition, ( analyzes the world market for all types of flowmeters used for gas flow measurement. It includes a technology analysis, 2014 market size and market share data, market growth projections through 2019, and provides in-depth segmentation of the market by various product and geographic categories.

According to Dr. Jesse Yoder, president of Flow Research:
“One major growth factor for positive displacement flowmeters is the large installed base of positive displacement flowmeters worldwide. Because they were introduced more than 100 years before new-technology meters, positive displacement flowmeters have had much more time to penetrate the markets in Europe, North America, and Asia. Installed base is a relevant growth factor because often when ordering flowmeters, especially for replacement purposes, users replace like with like. The investment in a flowmeter technology is more than just the cost of the meter itself. It also includes the time and money invested in training people how to install and use the meter. In addition, some companies stock spare parts or even spare meters for replacement purposes. As a result, when companies consider switching from one flowmeter technology to another, there is more than just the purchase price to consider. The large installed base of positive displacement flowmeters worldwide will continue to be a source of orders for new and replacement meters in the future.”

About Flow Research

Flow Research, with headquarters in Wakefield, Massachusetts, is the only independent market research company whose primary mission is to research flowmeters and other instrumentation products and markets worldwide. Flow Research has years of experience in doing both off-the-shelf studies and custom work. Published studies can be purchased by anyone interested in the topics. These studies are developed through interviews with suppliers, distributors, and end-users, and are presented in a clear and consistent manner. Topics include all of the flowmeter technologies – both new and traditional – as well as temperature sensors, temperature transmitters, level products, and pressure transmitters.

A growing area of interest – especially related to custody transfer – is flowmeter calibration. Flow Research has recently completed two studies, one on gas and one on liquid, of flow calibration facilities and markets. This series is called Worldwide Flowmeter Calibration Facilities and Markets(

The company also focuses on the energy industries, especially on oil and gas production and measurement. Special topics include custody transfer, multiphase measurement, and liquefied natural gas (LNG). A series of quarterly reports called the Worldflow Monitoring Service ( regular updates on both the flowmeter markets and the energy industries

For more information, visit or call +1 781-245-3200.

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Jesse Yoder
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