5 Roadblocks To Optimizing Your Pumping Systems (Avoid Them Or You’ll Be Sorry…)

by Eric Lunsford
October 24, 2016

pump maintenance, pumping systems, Pye Barker Engineered solutions, Florida, Georgia

Working towards upgrading your pumping systems is a worthwhile goal. System upgrades can save you a fortune from reduced operating costs, while increasing output and minimizing the cost of repairs and duration of downtime.

Here are the five roadblocks to optimizing your pump system

Roadblock #1: Selecting the Wrong Systems to Try and Upgrade

Especially for your first upgrade project you really want to identify a system that offers fantastic savings potential. It will create positive energy and give the project sponsors reason to continue.

I’d look for pumping systems that have any of the following systems:

  • highly throttled flow-control valves
  • existence of bypass line (re-circulation) flow regulation
  • batch-type processes involving one or more pumps running continuously
  • frequent on/off pump cycling
  • cavitation noise either at the pump or in the system
  • parallelpump system with the same number of pumps always working
  • a pump system that has undergone a change in function without modification
  • a pump system with no means of measuring flow, pressure or power

Often large, high-maintenance, mission critical systems exhibit many of these problems and can give you a big payoff when you optimize them. Go through all of your systems – create a list that has the any of these symptoms – then we can assess where to start.

Roadblock #2: Improper Assessment.

There are three levels of assessment that need to be conducted in order to determine the payoff for optimizing each system. Most projects often neglect the level 2 and 3 assessment.

  • Level 1 is a qualitative review that determines potential energy savings and reliability improvements to identify pumps worthy of further attention.
  • Level 2 is a quantitative review that determines energy consumption and reliability improvements based on measurement made during steady-state operating conditions using a single set of measurements.
  • Level 3 is a quantitative review measuring system demands by tracking and monitoring the system over longer time periods to obtain various operating conditions.

Roadblock #3: Collecting the Right Data.

Basically we are looking for the difference between measured and required conditions in our existing systems. We want data on the energy costs, rate of flow and head at a minimum. We will also want data on other components of the existing system, including valves, bypass lines, piping configurations and suction piping that may provide optimization opportunities.

Without the right data we can’t get the right information and without the right information we can’t make the right decision.

Roadblock #4: Getting Your Life-cycle Costing Right.

In essence, optimization projects are about spending money now to reduce costs over time so that you make more profits in the future. To this end, make sure you include the following categories of costs in your life-cycle analysis:

  • initial purchase
  • installation and commissioning
  • electrical or other energy costs
  • operation costs
  • maintenance and repair costs
  • downtime costs
  • environmental costs
  • decommissioning/disposal costs

Roadblock #5: Failure to Capture and Explain All The Benefits.

Many times I’ve seen a project where everyone on the team ‘knows they should do it’ but just can’t get the case for it down on paper. Here are a list of a few ways a pump systems optimization will help a plant so that you can assess how a project will pay off for you:

  • increased productivity
  • reduced production costs
  • improved product quality
  • improved capacity utilization
  • improved reliability
  • improved worker safety
  • Anything else specific to your project

It might seem like a lot of work to get a pump system optimization project ‘up’ with project sponsors but considering the costs of not doing it correctly the first time it is a small price to pay. If you need any help with your pump optimization projects feel free to give us a call on call 404-363-6000 or drop us a line at sales@pyebarker.com and we’ll help you out as best we can.

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