Chetan Mistry, Strategy and Marketing Manager at Xylem Africa

Your choice of pumps and managing them can significantly impact operational cost and long-term return on value. In recent years, pump technologies have flourished, delivering a new generation of smart pumps and smart controllers that can enhance existing sites. So says Chetan Mistry, Strategy and Marketing Manager at Xylem Africa.

‘Powering the Wastewater Renaissance’, a research report commissioned by Xylem, finds that adopting energy-efficient wastewater management technologies can cut electricity-related greenhouse gas emissions by almost half.  

As the market faces pressure from rising energy costs and growing urbanisation, pump sites need to make the most of what they’ve got as well as invest smartly in new pump innovations. They need to improve ageing infrastructure with retrofitted improvements and new designs that take less space at existing sites. The savings come from improved operations, reduced maintenance, and fewer breakdowns due to dry running and clogging. Then there is the massive leap provided by variable-speed motors that adapt to changing conditions. 

Smart pump systems can reduce costs, maximise savings and improve operations with both new and existing infrastructure:

Retrofit existing infrastructure

Replacing older pumps is a daunting expense and a primary reason why sites avoid upgrades. Yet innovations in control systems bring new life to established pumping infrastructure. Sites can retrofit modern control systems to existing pumps, opening the door to features such as performance monitoring, emergency shutdowns, and variable speed controls. 

Reduce energy consumption

Modern pumps offer energy saving by as much as 70 percent (versus fixed speed drives). New models of inverters and variable speed drives manage usage to ensure optimal performance. Unlike traditional pumps that operate on a set level regardless of the conditions, smart pumps adjust accordingly. Some pumps adapt along a kilowatt field rather than a static curve – thus, one pump can act in various capacities formerly requiring several pumps. 

Lower wear and tear

Variable conditions can radically reduce a pump’s lifespan or maintenance intervals. Snoring and dry running are two examples of how prolonged exposure damage a pump, taking years off its lifespan. Smart pumps manage their speed based on inflow conditions, using modern sensors. Sensors and controls can also be fitted onto established pumps to manage inflow conditions. 

Improved maintenance.

Smart pumps facilitate improved modular maintenance and repair conditions, reducing downtime and maintenance costs by as much as 50%. New pump designs often require fewer components, further lessening the change of parts failure and shrinking inventory requirements for spares.

Improved continued operations

Shutting down pumps can be very disruptive and stop-start conditions can create unwanted pressure peaks and dreaded water hammers. New features such as adaptive modes enable smart pumps to run continuously as they adapt to factors such as inflow and variable particle sizes. Control systems and sensors enable smart pumps to turn off when not needed but stay online when operations require it.

Integrated monitoring and planning

Smart pump infrastructure brings several benefits to operations planning while simplifying the environment. Smart motors can operate multi-pump environments, negating the need for external control panels or programmable logic controllers. Sensor data can be integrated into existing operations centres or sent to tablets and mobile phones apps. Several smart pumps provide remote and automated management features, reducing the need for on-premise staff.

Lower space utilisation

Traditional pumps are bulky and take up a lot of space. Modern smart pumps offer smaller profiles, taking up less space in a site to be used for other equipment or additional pumps without needing to rebuild the site. Multi-pump controllers reduce the space required for control boxes while providing additional features to both new and traditional pumps.

“Smart pump technology delivers considerable savings, improves equipment lifespans, and makes better use of existing site infrastructure. Whether the goal is to acquire new equipment or increase the value of existing systems, study the choices available and make a smart investment today that will deliver value for decades. This is a fantastic time to leverage smart pump innovations,” Chetan concludes.

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