Pump System Optimization

Written by:
Michelle Segrest
Published:
July 31, 2012
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The optimization of pumping systems has been a critical industry topic for many years. We cover it every month. It is discussed in more social media conversations than any other topic. Almost every new product we see at tradeshows is designed with optimization and efficiency in mind.

As we all know, optimizing pumping systems improves pump performance, minimizes costs and decreases downtime. But how is it achieved?

Our longtime partners, Pump Systems Matter (PSM) and the Hydraulic Institute (HI), are at the forefront of this movement and offer materials and educational opportunities about the subject (see page 53). They also provide basic tips on getting started with system optimization. The most likely contenders for optimization upgrades are large systems, systems with high operating hours, problem systems and production-critical systems. According to PSM, some key symptoms can help identify good candidates for optimization:

  • High energy costs
  • Throttle valves that are generally closed
  • Bypass valves/recirculation lines that are generally open
  • Frequent failures or repair requirements
  • High operating noise levels, especially at the valve or pump
  • Vibrations in the system and/or pump assembly
  • Systems with multiple parallel pumps with the same number of pumps always operating
  • Constant pump operation in a batch environment or frequent cycle batch operation in a continuous process
  • Systems that have undergone a change in function

In this August issue cover series, we take a serious look at ways to improve pump performance through optimization. British Petroleum (BP) engineers Bill Rademacher and Jarrod Streets present a case study about how an 82-year-old refinery pump was optimized to run just to the right of the BEP on the performance curve drawn by Cameron (now Ingersoll Rand) engineers in 1933.

By modifying the axial thrust and bearing design, upgrading to mechanical seals, redesigning the impeller wear rings and repairing the pump casing (among other upgrades), the engineers maximized the performance of this vintage pump, which now runs reliably and efficiently.

Tell us about your experience with successful pump system optimization. Comment here, or email me directly. Better yet, come visit with us at Pump Users Symposium (Booth #1822) and at MINExpo.

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