Flowhire’s KATflow 200 Ultrasonic Meter Assists Semi-Conductor Manufacturer Diagnose Process Issues

Flowhire were recently approached by a world-leader in the design and manufacture of semi-conductors, a key strategic supplier to many Fortune 100 and Silicon Valley customers.

Semi-conductors are the brains of modern electronics and as such are an integral part of our world today, so continuation of supply is crucial in developing next generation products.

For weeks the customer had been having issues with the Process Cooling Water (PCW) system for one of their specific tools and numerous theories had been put forward. The tool was shutting down mid process and the fault was showing that insufficient cooling water was being pumped into its cooling system.

Since installation in late 2019 and subsequent commissioning by the OEM in 2020 the tool had performed without any problems. However, following a minor re-layout in early 2022, where the cooling water pipework was repositioned and, in parallel, new tools were added to increase capacity, the tool started failing after a few months.

There were two ideas about what caused the problem:

  1. The PCW system had reached the maximum output for the system design and an uprated pump was required.


  1. The routing change in the cooling water pipework was the cause, due to the vertical route and the quantity of 90-degree bends in the route.


A solution to either of these would have required a significant spend despite any definitive confirmation that either of these would solve the problem. It was decided that a flow meter could prove or disprove the theories.


Following the enquiry from the customer, Flowhire specified the KATflow 200 Ultrasonic flowmeter, a user friendly, non-intrusive unit which is suitable for the measurement of clean liquids in full pipes of between 10mm to 3000mm diameter and which has an internal 100,000 point data logger which allows the user to identify flow losses and trends.

After setting it up on the PCW System the customer was able to prove the following.

  1. The PCW pump was working to spec. and was not underperforming or at end of life.


  1. The PCW System was also within spec. and that we were not overloading the system.


  1. There was no degradation in PCW flow to the tool in question due to the routing of the pipework and the quantity of 90-degree bends.


In summary the KATFlow 200 Ultrasonic flow meter provided the evidence that in fact they had had too much PCW flow and that they needed to reduce the flow to meet the requirements of the tool in question.

After further investigation on the tool, it was discovered that a water flow sensor was dirty and after cleaning, the machine began working normally. A new sensor was subsequently ordered from the OEM and replaced it accordingly.

The Project Manager at site said “This was a fitting example of how we were able to troubleshoot a problem on a production machine without incurring the expense of changing / re-routing the PCW pipework or replacing the PCW system pump without the hard evidence to identify the fault”