Building the fastest mass flow meters/controllers and pressure equipment in the world is both a point of pride for us and a unique factor for which our customers select Alicat instruments. The question is, ‘fastest’ in regards to what? Having started working at Alicat Scientific recently, I’ve found these three things which help make Alicat the fastest flow controller company in the world.
Reason #1. Fast Sensor Response Times
Alicat devices have the fastest response time compared to any other flow device manufacturer. The frequency of sampling means the sensor takes close to one thousand readings in a single second. Through a PID loop, which regulates responsiveness, a valve then controls the flow rate to the set point. The control response time for valves is 50-100 milliseconds–adjustable through PID tuning. If we apply the chemical kinetics analogy to this system, the rate determining step (RDS) or the rate limiting step would be the valve adjusting its position according to the difference between the set point and the flow reading. The sensor itself is very fast, detecting changes in pressure every millisecond. Thermal sensors, which are relying on the absorption and transmission of heat information, take longer to detect flow changes—it’s physics. This is one reason why our patented laminar flow differential pressure mass flow devices are quicker than thermal flow devices.
More about control speed of response
Reason #2. Me! (Also known as) Fast Technical Support
We don’t have separate phone extensions for technical support and new applications. You won’t have to wait to be put through to the right department, everybody is available immediately.
When you call us to specify a product or to troubleshoot your flow process, one of our applications engineers—like me—helps you with technical queries, troubleshooting or applications. Virtually every instrument we ship is customized in some way to the customer’s application, and our application engineers help you do that.
When you send in an email (be it new orders, service requests or general inquiries) to us, we try to respond within an hour—we’re even opening international service offices and coming in early to cover more time zones around the world.
With Alicat, you can expect the fastest customer service.
3. Convenient features that make you faster
Alicat devices have a built-in Gas Select feature that’s different from all the others. Many other brands offer gas changing on the instrument, but with some big drawbacks: you suffer from reduced accuracy, and you may need to calculate and program in K-factors to your process. For customers who are unable to accept reduced accuracy, the actual result is weeks of delay while the instrument is recalibrated at the factory, or down time while an instrument is replaced from spares.
Alicat devices change gases without losing calibrated accuracy, and they do it ultra-fast, at the touch of a button. The standard line of mass flow controllers have 98 different gas calibrations, the stainless steel MS/MCS series devices have 131 calibrations, including corrosive gases. Using Alicat devices gives you the flexibility of instantly repurposing an instrument for a different gas without delays in reconfiguration.
There are certainly other ways in which Alicat is fast. What’s your favorite?