Precision in Flow Accuracy

Case Study - Howden's Journey to Optimal Flow Accuracy

Howden Compressors

Howden Compressors


MEASUREMENT FOR RECOVERY (M4R) Project - TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory helps Howden Compressors increase flow accuracy through screw compressors

TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory provided Howden, a global leader in manufacturing air and gas handling solutions, with a resolution to a flow measurement problem, which was outside the company’s core area of expertise. The solution proposed by TÜV SÜD enabled Howden to increase flow measurement accuracy and reduce test setup time, as well as improve customer satisfaction by providing a demonstrably code compliant product.

Howden’s Compressor division design, engineer, manufacture and supply a range of rotary, centrifugal and reciprocating compressors. The screw compressor business supply both oil-injected and oil-free rotary twin screw compressors for a number of industries including industrial refrigeration, petrochemical, oil and gas, as well as mining applications.


Dr James Ure, a Principal Analysis Engineer at Howden, performs structural and thermal analysis of screw compressor parts, assemblies and compressor package components. These calculations are for reasons of safety, structural integrity and compressor/component performance prediction.

A screw compressor contains two rotating shafts, which have helically cut profiles (similar to helical gears). When the shafts rotate, these profiles mesh together and trap a volume of gas between the shafts and the casing. As the rotors continue to mesh the volume of the gas, it causes compression. Compression continues until the gas is exposed to the outlet port, where the high-pressure gas leaves the compressor.

Each screw compressor built by Howden is functionally tested for several hours to demonstrate machine performance through temperature, pressure, vibration, flow and power measurements. Demonstrating that the compressor can meet the customer’s gas flow requirement is of critical importance to fulfil customer contract terms and guarantee product performance.

Currently, the measurement of gas flow through a compressor is constrained by the physical space available in the test area. This can lead to doubt over the compliance with flow measurement standards. Another issue is that the measurement uses manual gauges, which lag behind other instrumentation (pressure, temperature, vibration, etc.) where values are electronically data logged.

Howden required expertise to provide a solution which complied with the relevant flow measurement and compressor test standards, that would result in automatic (data logged) flow measurement.

TÜV SÜD provided a solution to alleviate a daily problem faced by Howden. Dr Ure said, “I contacted TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory because they are recognised experts in the theoretical and practical aspects of flow measurement, making them the ideal partner for this project.”

TÜV SÜD solutions

TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory reviewed the relevant flow measurement and compressor testing standards to determine the requirements of the flow measurement solution. Next, they examined Howden’s existing setup to see how it could be improved within the code constraints. Finally, concept solutions were provided which both met code requirements and also have significant practical benefits such as accuracy improvements and ease of test setup.

Business benefits

This project has provided an expert review and solution to a problem which is outside the core competencies within Howden. The technologies proposed in the solution concepts were sized in conjunction with manufacturers, allowing Howden to pick up and use the work directly before implementing the solution. The solution will result in increased flow measurement accuracy, reduced test setup time, and is demonstrably code compliant which will reduce customer queries.

Howden were able to benefit from the BEIS-funded Measurement for Recovery (M4R) programme which TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory was pleased to support. M4R aimed to help businesses recover and grow in the challenging economic situation resulting from COVID-19 by providing access to world-leading measurement experts and facilities at no charge.

Dr Ure, Principal Analysis Engineer, Howden Compressors Ltd.:

“TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory’s friendly staff are knowledgeable on both the theoretical and practical aspects of flow measurement, with a wealth of experience to back it up.“

Do you need help with fluid flow measurement? Find out more about our flow measurement services.


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