When we analyze the thermal mass flow meter manufacturer history what emerges is the story of a relatively new product with steady growth and a strong foothold and roots in California, particularly the Monterey area.
Thermal Mass Flow Meter Market
The thermal mass flow meter market is a relatively young industry, having been introduced in the mid-1970s. At that time, there were only a couple companies manufacturing meters while today the industry generates roughly $150 million in revenue each year, with nearly 20 manufacturers taking a piece of the pie.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, two employees of Thermo Systems Inc. (TSI), a Minnesota based company, developed anemometers for research applications in gas flow, air flow and turbulence. Those scientists were Jerry Kurz, Ph.D., and John Olin, Ph.D. These instruments were based on thermal dispersion technology, and while they had a desired response time, they were too fragile to use in industrial applications. Both Kurz and Olin recognized the need for measurement instruments to be used in industrial environments. Apparently they approached their employer, and when TSI expressed no interest in going in this direction, in 1973, the two scientists formed Sierra Instruments in Minnesota. The company moved to Monterey, California in 1975.
In 1977, Sierra manufactured both air sampling products and thermal flowmeters. Apparently, there was a parting as Kurz left Sierra, forming Kurz Instruments and began manufacturing thermal flow meters while Sierra kept manufacturing the sampling products. In 1983, Sierra returned to the thermal mass flow meter market.
Another company in the field, Fluid Components International (FCI), had developed thermal flow switches for the petroleum industry, specifically to detect the flow of oil at oil wells. These switches evolved into flow meters in 1981.
Sierra, Kurz and Fluid Components International, were the only companies manufacturing thermal mass flow meters in the early 1980s, however, as time passed other manufacturers formed in the Monterey area, including Elderidge Products, Inc. (1988), Fox Thermal Instruments (1994) and our company, Sage Metering (2002).
While the Monterey, California thermal mass flow meter companies largely spawned out of Sierra and Kurz, other manufacturers have entered the field, including Endress+Hauser, ABB and Magnetrol.