Is the pump industry ready to talk?


TPE3 is the latest generation of in-line pump from Grundfos

Gordon Barry of Grundfos Pumps has worked in the pump sector for many years and has seen many advances and engineering innovations influence the industry during that time. However, here he looks to the future and at what changes are coming down the line.

Much has been written about the pace of technological change over the past 10/15 years. There was a period of time when it was believed that it would not be possible to sustain this acceleration and that the world would return to “normal” at some point. However, it is now accepted that the pace will not slow down and in fact if anything, it will continue to quicken as this period of rapid technological transformation continues unabated into the future.

Looking at the raft of developments we’ve seen over recent years, we all accept that these advances have, by and large, made the world a better place. Equally these developments have filtered away from the consumer demand for increasingly smart gadgets and into every strata of business, including the pump industry.

A by-product of this has been the opportunity to create an holistic intelligent design approach to integrate devices such as pumps, communication units, control and protection equipment, transmitters and drives within a pump solution to ensure that the system will operate to its maximum effectiveness and efficiency.

Ready to communicate

One of the specific ways this has manifested itself is demonstrated with regard to many new communication platforms that today offer a wide range of important benefits. Some of the reasons behind these changes are that demand is moving away from a simple pump selection scenario into a much more integrated and systems-driven approach that looks at the integration of an entire system.

This is quite a sea-change for the industry as the previous focus had been on maximising the inherent engineering to deliver the best energy efficiency on an individual pump basis. Of course the economies of scale offered by being able to interrogate the system better means that a focus on energy is certainly an important spin-off of improved communications.

Flexible data communication

The more technically-advanced pump companies are now able to offer a wider and more sophisticated approach. This can be seen for example in remote management systems that are already available on a secure, internet-based platform. Such systems can monitor and manage pump installations in a wide range of applications including commercial buildings, industrial processes, water supply networks and wastewater plants.

What this means is that pumps, sensors, meters and pump controllers are connected to a datalogger. Data can then be accessed from an Internet PC, providing an overview of the system. If sensor thresholds are crossed or a pump or controller reports an alarm, a communication will instantly be dispatched to the person on duty.

In this way changes in pump performance and energy consumption can be tracked and documented using automatically-generated reports and trend graphs. These can also give an indication of wear or damage, and service and maintenance can be planned accordingly.

Remote monitoring

Remote monitoring and control refers to a field of industrial automation that is entering a new era with the development of wireless sensing devices. This was initially limited to SCADA systems, remote monitoring and control, and refers to the measurement of disparate devices from a network operations center or control room, and the ability to change the operation of these devices from that central office.

Today there are other remote monitoring solution management options that offer an efficient and cost-effective alternative that can be used in stand-alone solutions. These, for example, include in retro-fit applications, and as complementary to or in partnership with SCADA systems. This route will often deliver a more costeffective outcome.

Such systems have become more accessible with the introduction of cloud-based remote monitoring systems.Pump engineering will continue to improve but in stage steps rather than any radical new developments. This will mean that bigger wins will need to be achieved in other areas such as improved overall systems design and fullyintegrated solutions.

The answers are out there … you just need to ask the right people the questions: the team at Grundfos Ireland is ready to assist you.