Challenges Using Flowmeters for Tank Scale Calibration

Flowmeters are indispensable tools in various industries for measuring the flow rate of liquids and gases. However, when it comes to tank scale calibration, the use of a flowmeter to measure the mass added during routine calibration of weighing systems presents several unique challenges. Understanding these challenges is crucial for ensuring accurate and reliable calibration results. In this blog post, we'll delve into the specific difficulties encountered when using flowmeters for tank scale calibration, providing insights into how to address these issues effectively.


Flowmeters play a pivotal role in many industrial processes, from monitoring fluid flow in pipelines to measuring fuel consumption in engines. Their precision and reliability make them essential in scenarios where accurate flow measurement is critical. However, when it comes to tank scale calibration—a process vital for ensuring the accuracy of tank scales —using a flowmeter can be fraught with difficulties. This blog post explores the main challenges associated with using flowmeters in tank scale calibration, including substantial water consumption and handling issues during daily operations, and offers practical solutions to mitigate these problems.

Accuracy and precision

Achieving high accuracy and precision is crucial in tank scale calibration. Flowmeters must provide highly precise measurements to ensure the tank's scale accurately reflects the true volume of the liquid it contains. However, various factors can affect the accuracy of flowmeters. Irregular flow profiles, such as turbulence, swirl, and asymmetrical flow, can lead to measurement inaccuracies. Additionally, changes in temperature and pressure can impact the flowmeter's readings, necessitating temperature and pressure compensation to maintain accuracy. Addressing these issues often involves using high-quality flowmeters designed for precise applications and ensuring proper installation and maintenance to minimize disturbances.

Pharmaceutical manufacturing plant displaying multiple large tanks

Calibration and maintenance

Regular calibration and maintenance of flowmeters are essential to ensure their accuracy over time. However, the calibration process itself presents several challenges. Establishing accurate reference standards is crucial for flowmeter calibration. Calibration must account for the environmental conditions in which the flowmeter operates, as factors such as humidity, temperature, and pressure can all influence the process. Routine maintenance, including cleaning and inspecting the flowmeter, is necessary to prevent the buildup of contaminants that can affect its performance. However, this maintenance can be time-consuming and requires skilled personnel.

Fluid properties

The properties of the fluid being measured can significantly affect the performance of a flowmeter. Variations in viscosity, density, and composition can introduce measurement errors. Fluids with varying viscosities can cause discrepancies in flow measurements, and some flowmeters are more sensitive to viscosity changes than others, requiring specific types of meters for certain applications. Calibration must account for these fluctuations to ensure precision. Additionally, the presence of contaminants or particulates in the fluid can clog or damage the flowmeter, leading to inaccurate readings and increased maintenance needs. Selecting the appropriate flowmeter for the specific fluid properties and ensuring regular monitoring and cleaning can help address these issues.

Daily Equipment Handling

Handling flowmeters during daily operations can be troublesome, impacting efficiency and safety. Flowmeters require skilled operators to manage their calibration and maintenance, which can be a resource-intensive task. Using flowmeters when calibrating large-scale tanks often requires a mobile flowmeter to be transported to the site and connected to a local water supply. Therefore, establishing a local source of purified water is necessary. As most tank openings are accessed from a mezzanine floor managing hoses can prove a challenge during the calibration process, especially as performance is impacted by gravity and flow dynamics.

A man pouring water into a large tank during a tank scale calibration process

Time and Water Consumption

One significant challenge of using flowmeters for tank scale calibration is the enormous amount of water required and the time spent filling, draining cleaning, and validating tanks. The calibration process involves filling and emptying tanks multiple times to ensure accurate measurements, which can be both costly and environmentally unsustainable. The large volumes of water used can strain local water resources, especially in areas where water is scarce. Filling a large-scale tank with a volume of 60.000 liters with a local water source, typically providing 6.000 liters per hour, takes 20 hours to fill once. If an adjustment is required, the process is repeated. Furthermore, proper disposal or recycling of the water used in calibration is necessary to avoid environmental contamination, adding an extra layer of complexity to the process. To mitigate these issues, industries are exploring alternative calibration methods that reduce water consumption or investing in water recycling systems to make the process more sustainable.


While flowmeters are invaluable tools for measuring fluid flow, their use in tank scale calibration presents several challenges. Ensuring accuracy and precision, managing calibration and maintenance, addressing installation issues, handling equipment during daily operations, and time consumed are all critical factors that must be carefully managed. Additionally, the substantial water consumption required for calibration processes poses both environmental and logistical challenges. Despite these obstacles, using flowmeters is still widely considered the standard solution in the calibration of tank scales. However, it is essential to recognize the challenges and complexities of using a flowmeter for tank scale calibration and the viability of alternative solutions. By doing so, you can ensure the accuracy and reliability of your tank measurements, ultimately supporting the efficiency and safety of your operations.

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