The world is currently faced with outdated water management infrastructure that threatens to spiral out of control as the globe’s population grows.  It’s a tall order that is faced by many countries in the world including South Africa.  The good news is billions of rands in water and wastewater R&D is driving forward an era where new technologies provide water in an energy efficient and enhanced manner.

These technological advancements will improve the efficiency of key processes such as water extraction, purification, and transportation. Energy plays a critical role in these overall efficiency strides as it is utilised for extraction, transformation, water resource delivery, reconditioning and release.

In fact, it’s estimated that up to eight percent of the energy produced globally is used to lift groundwater, pump it through pipes and treat it.  This figure is even higher in developed countries. 

Smart pumping

Enter smart pumping which can address the high cost and energy usage challenges faced by private and municipality-managed facilities. The concept of smart pumping, also known as intelligent pumping systems, combines higher efficiencies with sensors and software to regulate and control flow or pressure. This leads to energy savings, increased equipment lifetime, and maintenance cost reductions.

In order to understand smart pumping, it’s important to look at the components.  Water pumps for example are a vital cog in the smart pumping engine and, if used optimally, can improve energy efficiency. 

However, pumps form part of a larger physical infrastructure (of pumping operations) which include electric motors and variable speed drives.  Together this trio of components (pump + drive + motor) also known as the complete drive module (CDM) can provide true efficiency gains.

Smart pumping systems differ from traditional systems in that components have the ability to automatically share information to improve efficiency.

For example, a variable speed drive can recognise the levels of activity for both motors and pumps (from idle to partial load conditions, to full capacity, and overload) and automatically make the proper adjustments to ensure that a pump operates as close to its BEP (best efficiency point) and at improved motor efficiencies.

Smart visibility

Therefore, in a smart pumping environment, the ability to determine, monitor and even to take corrective measures can be programmed into the CDM solution. This enables operators to run the pumps at near BEP throughout the lifecycle of pumping systems.

However, in order to gain the most from smart pumping, utilities and service providers should consider the following:

Ultimately, smart pumping has the ability to safeguard water and wastewater expenditure and maintenance, leading to a world that readily meets the demand of a growing global population.

Jaque Mare, Product Manager
Schneider Electric South Africa 
Tel: (011) 254-6400

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