The previous blog looked at the pump design through various topics like impellers and pump motors to see how the pump itself can help determine a good pump selection. Today, we will look at factors surrounding pumps that aren’t directly related to the pump functionality. To some clients, the pump and its design are the most important considerations for a good pump selection, but some districts and pump station owners value external factors equally or even more than the pump itself. These factors include the brand of the pump, the maintenance, and how the pump is repaired or replaced. First, let’s look at the label. Pump brands can be very important, so be sure to get the brand you prefer.
Pump brands are very much like any other product. Many brands will offer the same types of pumps with the same styles of impellers and will seem to be identical. Each brand, however, will represent its product differently. Some pump brands have single points of manufacturing that, in some cases, are only found internationally. This means for all replacement parts or warranty related issues all new components will be shipped via international freight, which can be slow. Other brands do a great job of providing support, training, and documentation for their pumps. In these cases, on-site services can be integral to the culture of owning and maintaining a pumping system. Brands also can have historical track records with pump station owners and operators.
It is not uncommon for Romtec Utilities to hear customers say, “We only use brand X pumps.” Years of experience can teach owners and operators which brand works best for them. Documentation can provide information about a brand’s reliability and track record, but experience is always worth trusting for a good pump selection. Romtec Utilities has no brand affiliation and can provide pumps of any brand to our clients. At times, we will work with clients to understand their experiences while sharing our own experiences with various brands. With thousands of Romtec Utilities pump stations commissioned, we have a good understanding of pumps and their brands. Our level of brand understanding is also related to how various pumps behave over the long-term life of a pumping system.
Pump stations must be maintained regularly, but some pumps have different maintenance needs. These needs can relate to more than just brand. They can relate to the weather, the pump design, the water chemistry, and many other considerations. Romtec Utilities will work with clients to understand the maintenance culture of a pump station owner or operator. Often times, this subject is related to the pump station telemetry or communications, but it is also important for a good pump selection. Some entities have regular maintenance schedules and pumps are routinely pulled out and inspected. Other entities may benefit from various forms of monitoring for conditions like temperature, vibration (especially with turbines), bearing wear, and pump efficiency. Pumps with monitoring capabilities can be a great advantage for maintenance.
Monitoring from the control panel is one way to improve the redundancy of a pump station, but typically, redundancy is a facet of the pump configuration. Making a good pump selection can also depend on the preferred method for redundancy, if it is required at all. The most common form of redundancy utilizes two pumps of the same type, size, and brand. By using the same pumps, maintenance is more consistent and working with the pump manufacturer is easier. In some scenarios, however, it can be beneficial to have redundant pumps of different sizes and even different brands. This is not typical, but unique projects can sometimes require unique solutions for the best pump redundancy. The ultimate goal of redundancy is to prevent a pumping system failure, and part of operating a successful pump station is repairing and replacing pumps.
Pump stations do not always operate consistently. Stormwater pump stations, for example, operate very seasonally in most parts of the country. This means that a certain amount of weeks every year can be used for pump station maintenance without having to impact the functionality of the pump station. Including redundant pumps can provide the same benefit: time for maintenance. Making a good pump selection should include understanding how the pump used needs to be maintained. This should be looked at early in the design process. Some type of surface mounted pumps, for example, need to be primed periodically. It would be inconvenient to find out that personnel will need to complete this ongoing work after the pumping system is installed. Romtec has even helped clients retrofit existing systems that utilized pumps that were too difficult to maintain due to frequent clogging or poor design.
The replacement of your pumps is another valuable consideration when selecting the pumps. Some pumps, like submersible centrifugal pumps, are very easy to replace in the event of a failure. It is a simple matter of lifting out the existing pumps and lowering the new pumps. Turbines are difficult to replace, but in a situation where turbines are required, they might be unavoidable. Wet/dry pumps are difficult to maintain and difficult to replace, but many areas still prefer this configuration. Replacing wet dry pumps can be time consuming and expensive when compared to other comparable pumping options. Romtec Utilities still works with clients on wet-dry systems every year. It is important with each pumping system that the system owner and operators get the type of system that they feel the most comfortable owning.
Pumps are at the heart of a pumping system, and it is no great mystery as to why many people associate pumps as being the most important consideration for a successful pump station. This blog series looked at the system requirements (with water type, pump curve, & configurations), the pumps themselves (with their design, impeller/propeller styles, and power supply/motors), and finally at external factors of pump ownership (with brands, maintenance/redundancy, and repairing/replacing pumps). Finding a good pump for your site-specific pumping application will involve considering all of these factors in one way or another. Romtec Utilities will make sure that you get the correct pump for your system in any design, any brand, and to meet any requirements.