McCrometer is known as the industry standard for irrigation flow measurement, with the invention of the McPropeller® meter in 1955. Since then, McCrometer has developed many products for many different applications and industries. The newest addition to the McCrometer lineup of products is the Dura Mag™, specifically designed for irrigators who could benefit from an electromagnetic flow meter due to dirty water, tight installation space requirements, higher accuracy expectations, or a preference for a meter with no moving parts to maintain.
As McCrometer’s Product Manager Adam Setzler explained, “Dirty water can wear down meters with mechanical components, so the lack of parts in the Dura Mag meter is advantageous. Another example is surface water that can have more trash or debris, which can obstruct the propellers of other meters, but since there are no parts to obstruct or damage, this is a nonissue.”
Dura Mag can also be installed in confined spaces or in systems that have tight installation requirements. They require just two diameters of upstream pipe and one diameter downstream, which reduces the need to install flow straighteners upstream or downstream inside the pipe. Mr. Setzler added, “Dura Mag has an accuracy margin of 1 percent, and most agricultural meters have an accuracy margin of 5 percent, which makes Dura Mag more than adequate for agricultural applications.”
Ken Quandt, McCrometer’s market development manager, noted that the batteries are the only components that require any kind of regular maintenance. “If customers are concerned about how the quality of their water will affect the meter’s electrodes, they can inspect the electrodes inside the meter to ensure they are free of debris. However, that is an infrequent issue, so much so that we do not even list checking the electrodes as part of standard maintenance procedures.”
McCrometer’s product development team prioritized a long battery life and field-replaceable batteries for the Dura Mag. The primary battery pack consists of two batteries that are tied together, along with an additional single battery unit that serves as a backup. The primary pack is expected to last 5 years, and the meter switches to the backup battery automatically when the primary pack dies.
Mr. Quandt said, “From the beginning, we set out to improve battery life and durability when we developed Dura Mag. Making the meter low maintenance was a priority for us, so we needed to ensure the batteries would retain long life to save our customers the time and costs of replacing them. The batteries are high quality and are comparable to those used on some of our existing products.”
McCrometer understands that customers may only be able to check batteries occasionally, and the company wanted to include the backup capability to ensure the meter would continue to function properly through a full irrigation season, even if the primary batteries failed. Mr. Quandt added, “Testing performed internally by McCrometer and externally across the industry with previous meter models showed that the Dura Mag batteries could sustain multiple years and irrigation seasons with very low failure rates.”
McCrometer also sought to make the meter’s onscreen menu and user interface as simple as possible for its customers while equipping the meter with the latest technology. When users access the meter, the most important alerts are shown immediately so customers can quickly access the information they need. Dura Mag also includes an onboard data logger that is active on every new meter. This feature saves customers the need to request that capability, which Mr. Setzler said will give many irrigators and growers confidence that they will be able to retrieve their data even if the batteries should fail.
McCrometer has taken the lessons learned from its other meters and simplified the Dura Mag meter design by using electromagnetic technology and incorporated improved battery and data logging systems to improve reliability. However, Mr. Setzler noted that Dura Mag is a supplement to McCrometer’s existing product lines, not a replacement for them. “We are still very much promoting our existing propeller meters. While there are some advantages we want to highlight with the Dura Mag and mag meter technology, we do not want anyone to think we are moving away from our propeller meters or that customers are generally favoring one technology over another. We feel like Dura Mag fills a need for some customers and fits well for certain applications.”
Mr. Quandt added that McCrometer’s objective with Dura Mag was to take the positive attributes of its previous meter designs, simplify the products, and adapt them to agricultural and irrigation systems. “One thing we focus on when highlighting the durability of a new product like Dura Mag is how to leverage our existing mag meter and adapt it to new applications like agriculture. Much of that technology is time tested and proven over many years and many successful installations, so it is simply a matter of scaling the functionality to match the output. Dura Mag has also been simplified to reduce cost and increase reliability to be better suited for the agriculture market.”