The TASI Group recently acquired ONICON Incorporated, a private company specializing in the design and manufacture of flow meters and energy measurement systems. ONICON addresses liquid flow, steam flow, natural gas flow, airflow, and thermal energy applications with a broad range of flow meter technologies, including electromagnetic, turbine, ultrasonic, thermal mass, vortex, Pitot tube and BTU meters. Through its own acquisitions, ONICON offers six brands including:
The ONICON acquisition is another is step in the continuing development of TASI’s premier flow and level measurement business. The combined businesses now form a substantially larger TASI Flow Segment that offers an extensive range of technology to better serve customers around the globe and extend into new markets. ”The ONICON acquisition is a strategic win for everyone,” stated TASI CEO John McKenna. ”ONICON’s diversified portfolio of flow technologies compliment TASI Flow businesses with little overlap in technology, industries and geographic regions. This acquisition positions both businesses on an aggressive growth path “
Existing TASI Flow Group:
The organization joins the TASI Flow Segment of complementary businesses which includes:
KEM Kuppers Electromechanik GmbH
SignalFire Wireless Telemetry
Vogtlin Instruments GmbH
EXACT Dispensing Systems
What happens now?
John Norris, former ONICON President and Chief Executive Officer, will serve as TASI Flow Segment President with responsibilities for overseeing the entire combined group of world-class flow businesses. He will report directly to John McKenna the TASI Group CEO.
1. Can we start with some background on yourself and a brief history of Litre Meter?
Litre Meter was founded in 1975 by Sandy Wemyss. It originally designed and manufactured a Pelton wheel turbine flowmeter – still on sale today – along with a comprehensive selection of flow instrumentation. After Sandy’s death in 1978 his son, Charles Wemyss joined in 1982 and has been there ever since.
2. What inspired you to establish Litre Meter?
It was spun out of a development company looking at many types of flowmeter technologies for a variety of clients. One particular design was not used by that customer and was the genesis of the LM Pelton Wheel line. The MM soon followed and so a wide range of applications could be solved and Litre Meter Limited was established.
3. Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the Litre Meter market evolving over the next few years?
Litre Meter will always find a market for flowmeters at the margins. We are famous for providing flow solutions that are out of the ordinary, perhaps at low flow, with special materials, high pressures, or with specific pressure drop requirements. Whilst everyone one of our meters can measure the ordinary we will always aim for the niches.
4. Could you tell us about a standout business campaign to supply flow meters?
Our best campaigns come through word-of-mouth. Our two largest orders were as a direct result of providing, successfully, similar systems to original clients. They were impressed and those teams, when the time came, placed orders for similar equipment.
5. One word that best describes how you work.
6. Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
We still feel like a small family company. Staff turnover is very low, our longest employee has been here 31 years.
7. You did a thesis on ‘Weight reduction in the car with particular reference to the Wankel rotary engine’ in your Mechanical Engineering (The University of Sheffield). Can you brief the major points on it?
Even back in 1981, we were looking forward. Fuel consumption and efficiency were still drivers in car design but not as much as they are today. The thesis explored weight reduction in all aspects of the car but especially in the engine. There are great challenges to non-metallic materials in the engine bay relating to temperature and pressure. Various materials were explored, and simple components identified for evolving into composite construction. The Wankel engine has since fallen by the wayside, limited in its combustion efficiency with its awkwardly shaped combustion chamber. However, it now finds a role in UAVs where it’s relatively light weight and low vibration characteristics are close to ideal.
8. Litre Meter had received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise, which is an outstanding achievement to be recognized at the highest levels for your success. Can you please elucidate on this?
Specifically, this was an award for Export, reflecting our global success. Traditionally Litre Meter finds its markets overseas, not only in the USA but also in South East Asia and Europe. For a period of several years, our export orders increased culminating in over 70% in 2015.
9. Can you please address the challenges of low-flow measurement?
The term ‘low flow’ has different values to different people. The VFF can easily measure down to 200 milliliters per hour. For other meters, this will be considered impossibly low. For some, 200 ml per day is achievable but not necessarily with the right combination of other specifics such as viscosity or pressure. For Litre Meter, the challenge is to achieve these low flows in a package suitable for some of the most arduous conditions on the planet. We select appropriate materials, backed up by ISO9001:2015 quality management, with high specification testing procedures, high-pressure ratings and high resistance coatings for longevity.
10. How do Litre Meter’s flow meters meet the demands of your customers and transform their business in the new digital economy?
Litre Meter’s Mission Statement is very simple: Our purpose is to provide flow measurement solutions to enable our customers to control their usage of fluids, materials ultimately to reduce costs and environmental impact. The digital economy has the same focus as most economies: to drive down costs and reduce the ecological footprint. High-performance measurement.
11. What are some of the primary end user drivers and requirements in the market that impact the flow meter productivity, and which are the primary market sectors represented by your major customers?
Flowmeter performance is king in our main market which is Oil & Gas. Clients drove the design of the VFF meter to what it is today. The components have been optimized to be as compact and lightweight as possible whilst retaining the flow performance and instrumentation specification. The adoption of our CIFM philosophy has produced a number of crucial advances in meter and instrument design. CIFM is an abbreviation of Chemical Injection Flow Meter. The first and most obvious is that the meters are more compact. Underneath the skin though there are important advancements in components, reliability, Exd philosophy and instrumentation. Standardisation has been a keyword and Litre Meter expect 80% of future orders to be from a standard (but wide) range rather than 20% with 80% bespoke. Over 800,000 variations are possible and every drawing including GA and lifting is available at the time of inquiry.
12. We understand that Litre Meter will enlarge market sales to drive further expansion. Can you share with us in which geographic and technology areas this will cover and do you anticipate further growth via acquisition?
Litre Meter has a 5-year plan and this involves organic growth within our current markets plus expansion into other markets and acquisition. Our geography is driven by our customers and therefore currently covers many of the oil and gas hotspots and includes multiple areas worldwide where skids are built. Our technology platform is stable but we continuously push the operating boundaries to measure lower flows with or without higher pressures.
About: Charles Wemyss – CEO
Charles Wemyss is the CEO of Litre Meter Limited, the flowmeter experts in supplying Mass, Water, and Chemical Injection Flowmeters worldwide. He holds the Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) degree from The University of Sheffield. His area of expertise lies in Oil & gas flow measurement and especially chemical injection measurement for positive displacement meters and Coriolis mass meters, over the last twenty- five years. Charles Wemyss plays a key role in launching a bespoke range of customisable flowmeters, growing the organization’s reach worldwide.
At the end of 2017 there was more activity than usual at Litre Meter as some of the largest VFF meters were gathered together for assembly and calibration. A complex project involving 7 different VFF sizes including the largest ever VFF was nearing completion. The V400 weighs a hefty 600kg and measures a suitably massive flow rate of 330 l/min and is designed for 19m³/h normal flow. The liquid is lean MEG (monoethylene glycol) which is used as an antifreeze in offshore production platforms, amongst others. The VFF series normally tops out at 2″ connections so 6″ was quite an engineering and logistical task. Sign up for FlowSight, the Litre Meter newsletter.
The pressure rating of 260+bar and the customer’s 6″ line dictated the use of 6″ANSI2500 connections and a 316L body. On top of this is the standard chemical injection instrument, the FlowPod, which provides a clear display, 2 wire operation and HART all in a 316 Exd enclosure.
Other meter sizes included a V270 for methanol measurement, several HF60s also for methanol and an LF03 measuring just 0.5 litres per hour of antifoam (40,000 to one range from the smallest to the largest, in case you’re wondering). They all use the VFF rotary piston technology with pressure balanced chambers to ensure accurate measurement independent of operating pressure. The range of displacements is from 0.4ml up to around 860 ml.
Connection ratings were equally disparate, ranging from ANSI150 to API6A, matching pressure ratings from 16.5 to 690bar.
Litre Meter CEO Charles Wemyss said: “Many new technologies provide superb measurement at various pressures, flow rates and operating conditions but lack the ability to provide measurement when the going gets tough, the pressures get high and the rates get low, or in this case when the rate gets high. For super low flows at challenging pressures, or when pulsing flow can’t be tamed, the VFF comes out on top.
“Hydrate, scale and corrosion prevention strategies provide protection during normal operation, start-up and shutdown.
“Litre Meter’s VFF flowmeter is ideally suited for use in the oil and gas industry and in particular for low flow / high pressure applications.
“Years of experience in chemical injection applications onshore and offshore have confirmed the instrument’s capability to reliably measure fluids under extreme conditions of both flow and pressure.”
We were thrilled to welcome Alexander Boswell, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire to our factory last month. He brought with him not only an engraved bowl but also our official scroll. The bowl is engraved with the logo of the Queen’s Award and the official title which is: Queen’s Award for Enterprise- International Trade 2016. We were grateful for a precise speech and official presentation and then Charles Wemyss our CEO said a few words followed by photographs. We were joined by Val Letheren, the Chairman of Buckinghamshire County Council and Jenny Bloom, Chairman of Aylesbury Vale District Council. Many thanks to Joe Bradshaw Assistant Clerk to the Buckinghamshire Lieutenancy who organised all the VIPs so well. The bowl was handed to Alexander Boswell by the Aylesbury Sea Cadet of the Year.
We’re often asked how we managed to achieve such a striking increase in our export sales. Having worked through it we should know this. Looking back we narrowed the factors down to 5:
Firstly, we have a great product, that we keep developing. We target that 25% of our turnover comes from developments in the previous three years. For example, the LF05 size, was introduced in 2012 and soon became our most popular size. More recently, the refreshed VFF range with FlowPod display will be even more desirable.
Secondly, we have built up a terrific sales team, both in-house and with our distribution network abroad particularly in the US and South Korea. Our own Chris Ringer has swung many orders. His skill with the Shah Deniz 2 project was exemplary and 135 meters totalled £1.4m all told through 2 separate customers, aided by our great product and flexibility.
Thirdly, we made a big step forward on Chevron Jack St Malo in 2011/12 which laid the groundwork for meeting the ever increasing engineering challenges.
Fourthly, the Deepwater Horizon accident set new standards and introduced more caution to specifications.
Lastly, economic climate including oil price. That’s stability coupled with historic higher oil prices.
There were just 150 winners in the UK this year, whittled down from an extensive entry list of 600 or more.
We are delighted to celebrate being one of the select businesses recognised as winners of the 2016 Queen’s Award for Enterprise – the UK’s highest accolade for business success.
Our award was received for Enterprise in International Trade and was in recognition of achieving significant year-on-year growth of export sales from 2013 to 2015. In turn, this helped us achieve record increases in turnover and profits resulting in a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 48%.
CEO Charles Wemyss: ‘As a very specialist company working on an international basis from the middle of a field in Buckinghamshire it is an outstanding achievement to be recognised at the highest levels for our success.’
Litre Meter was established as a family business in 1975 by the current CEOs father, where it moved to Buckinghamshire in 1978. Today, Litre Meter is recognised as the world’s premier Flow Measurement Specialist, employing home grown talent in a converted barn in North Marston. Our highly engineered products are used in various industries throughout the globe, such as the Oil & Gas sector, where they can be installed on platforms in some of the deepest seas and most arduous environments. We pride ourselves in using local suppliers for our materials, where possible and are proud to be an active part of the UK’s engineering heritage.
Notes for Readers
249 Queen’s Awards (QA) have been announced in 2016 for outstanding business achievement in the fields of International Trade, Innovation and Sustainable Development. Winners of The Queen’s Awards can expect an invitation to attend a special reception at Buckingham Palace.
QA winners can also use The Queen’s Award Emblem in advertising, marketing and on packaging for a period of five years as a symbol of their quality and success.
The awards are made annually by HM The Queen and are only given for the highest levels of excellence demonstrated in each category.
To find out more about next year’s awards visit the Queen’s Award website.
Litre Meter, based near Buckingham, UK, was established in 1975 and specialises in the custom design and manufacture of instruments for measuring and controlling fluids.
The company has particular expertise with offshore and sub-sea flow measurement and has supplied flowmeters for these applications throughout the world. The company’s VFF flowmeter was developed specifically for the petrochemical industry.
Litre Meter also pioneered the development of the Pelton wheel flowmeter, an accurate and versatile technology that has since been used across many industries to measure a variety of low viscosity liquids at both low and high flow rates.
Since 2011 Litre Meter has been part of the TASI Group of companies which includes AW-Lake, KEM and TRICOR.