PumpEng Managing Director Paul Meneghel discusses his experience of pump performance and how it has influenced the way PumpEng products are rated.
The performance of a pump over its lifetime is a lot more important than its Day One performance, and I'd like to explain why.
A dewatering pump that gives an impressive performance on Day One can seem like a great choice. However, if the performance of that pump dramatically reduces over time, you rightly start to question your investment. You start to see that the pump can't cope with the conditions or the application.
I am no stranger to the fact that pumps perform differently in the factory than they do in the field. Early in my career, I worked for a major pump manufacturer. We field guys used to have arguments with engineering - our customers would be throwing rocks at us because the pumps weren't working in the field as per the printed performance curves.
Where there was a problem, we would go back to the engineers at Head Office and complain about the level of performance. The engineers could replicate the testing standard back at their workshop.
They'd set up the pumps, polish the internal surfaces to a mirror shine to reduce internal friction, and add back velocity head and testing tolerance to meet the curve. It's legal, but it's not right.
The lesson was burnt into my mind. It's deeply influenced my commitment to designing tougher pumps that perform in challenging environments.
In this regard, I'm not an easy person to please. I'm simply not interested in how great a pump performance curve looks on paper in a controlled test environment. We don't make pumps for nice clean environments. I want to know that in the worst conditions our PumpEng submersible pumps will keep performing over time.
A strong trend out there in the world today is producing goods that use less power. Power usage is an important measure of efficiency for pumps as well.
Big pump manufacturers go hard after this and produce pumps that look like they are ecologically clean, green and environmentally friendly because they use less power and attract fewer emission taxes.
To demonstrate this, people have to show that their pump is hydraulically efficient. They put their pump in a test tank and get it all certified. The testing is beautifully controlled, and they pump clean water. They measure maximum possible efficiency because they're controlling everything.
But take that same pump out into the real world, and things change. Take it into a tough environment - like underground mining conditions - and the game changes radically.
Tough environments introduce so many new factors that don't get covered or controlled in the lab. Forget clean water, think dirty water with lots of tramp. Forget air-conditioned comfort; it could get very hot or very cold. And forget being able to reach the pump to fix things - put a pump out in the field and it stays there until it breaks.
So what happens to your high-efficiency pump once you out in tough conditions? Efficiency and performance can drop off very quickly. All of those theoretic lab gains no longer apply.
People understand you can design a small car to deliver great fuel efficiency bobbing around the city. But if you have to go off-road, you take a 4WD. People just get that because it is so obvious. It isn't as clear when it comes to pumps, it can be harder to see how they are designed to cope with tough conditions.
Here at PumpEng, we make it a priority to measure the performance of our pumps in tough work environments. We believe it's pump performance over time that matters more than Day One. We don't add back velocity head or tolerances to try to get efficiency gains. We don't mislead our customers that the pump will be more efficient than it is on site.
If you're planning to acquire some new dewatering pumps I recommend you ask how will this pump hold efficiency over time.
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