The tendency to place price before performance can lead to poor product choice. Are pump & valve manufactures doing enough to educate end-users?
Sustainability seems to be the new buzzword on everyone’s lips. In the pumps industry, life cycle costs (LCCs) are at the heart of achieving this.
In the opinion of Watson-Marlow Pumps, accurate LCC analysis is a consideration likely to pay good dividends for plant engineers prepared to invest a little time.
The consequences of wrong pump specification can go beyond frequent downtime…
An LCC will include factors such as maintenance, reliability, failure rates, replacement parts etc. As a result, conventional approaches to pump selection are changing significantly.
“In response to the ever increasing cost of energy, LCC is fast becoming the accepted method of evaluation for both capital projects and replacement plant,” said Martin Bagg, business unit manager for Water SPP Pumps.
Tony Peters, AxFlow managing director, believes that many fluid handling problems arise because pumps are neither designed nor suitable for the applications for which they have been selected.
“The consequences of wrong pump specification can go beyond frequent downtime, maintenance costs and high demand for spares,” said Peters.
For those end-users who are not pump experts, selection can become more challenging as many types of pumps now offer greater degrees of versatility, making them suitable for a considerable range of applications.
“Accepting that there are still cowboys around the old adage that ‘You only get what you pay for’ could not be truer,” commented Peter Staddon, managing director at The Pump Company.
The Pump Company uses the case of a food manufacturer in Lincolnshire, which was having problems pumping hot water from a pump after the cooking process water was dumped.
For years the manufacturer had used submersible pumps and every six to eight weeks the pumps would fail and were sent to either have the mechanical seals replaced, the motor rewound or the bearings replaced.
Regrettably the client did not fully appreciate that the maximum operating temperature of the submersible pump was 60ºC and due to the water vapour pressure of 98ºC it was impossible to use a self-priming pump.
The Pump Company’s solution was to install a Salvatore Robuschi - Vertical Cantilever pump.
The payback on the pump was six months and two years later it has required no maintenance and runs daily.
The information gap between the initial application discussions and the end-user is an area that needs to be addressed because of misguided preconceptions of what is required, poor communication and a lack of understanding.
Tim Guest, director marketing and sales at valve and actuator supplier Zoedale reports that his company is frequently requested to quote for a valve or valve and actuator combination without knowing the full specification.
“We have to remember that the person requesting the quotation does not necessarily have an understanding of the process for which the equipment is required, nor why the information we request is important.”
“So communication, the need for information is critical. Keeping the technical language as basic as possible is sometimes the way forward,” said Guest.
The last words on this subject go to Borger’s managing director David Brown. “The work carried out by reputable pump manufacturers to achieve best practice should be matched by those responsible for making the final purchasing decisions. In any walk of life, you get what you pay for,” stated Brown.
Brown said that whilst it can be disheartening to miss out when the tendency with some is always to buy whatever is the cheapest, he reports encouraging signs that an increasing number of companies are finally taking the long term view by purchasing pumps that will stand the test of time.