Austen Scudder
How common resolutions can apply to your pumps.

Every year, at the stroke of midnight, many of us set in motion our New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s getting in better shape, learning something new, getting organized or spending more time with the family, it’s natural to think of ourselves. But what about our equipment? While we’re taking off for the holidays, our pumps and drives are still hard at work. Let’s flip the script and discuss how to apply some classic New Year’s resolutions to our drive and pump systems.

1. Eat Healthier

We all know how important a good diet is to our energy and functionality. It’s no different if you’re chowing down 60 hertz (Hz) of 480 volts (V) for breakfast like many drives do. For them, power quality is going to affect the performance and longevity of your system. You may feel good because you have power reliability and rarely suffer outages; however, voltage sags, phase shifting and harmonics are the processed carbohydrates of the electrical world.

These situations can be difficult to detect, but they are prevalent and destructive to your systems if they go unchecked over time. If you aren’t aware of these issues, it may be because you haven’t investigated them. Not every issue needs to be resolved, but understanding your power quality environment, risk tolerance and ability to mitigate is part of a healthy electrical diet.

2. Get Organized

Do you know what your installed base of equipment looks like? Do you have a mix of equipment? Are they compatible? Do you have the ability to pull a spare off the shelf in case of failure? Do you know who to call when something goes bump in the night?

Whether it’s your on-site maintenance team, a trusted fix-it person or your distributor/supplier’s support service, it pays to be prepared. Make sure you have a plan for any critical drive or pump that may fail. You may find you’ve accumulated a Picasso-like installed base that is impossible to unravel on short notice. If so, consider if it makes sense to standardize over time, keep shelf-spares or talk to your distributor about their preparedness.

3. Be More Productive

Work smarter, not harder. Integrating Internet of Things (IoT) smart solutions should be on your radar. You might think that you must have a premium product, an advanced programmable logic controllers (PLC) system and the support of a controls engineer to tap into the benefits of Industry 4.0. The truth is, there are many opportunities to simply and elegantly incorporate user friendly IoT that enhances productivity. For example, there are mobile apps that will notify you or your team when there are issues, even allowing for troubleshooting halfway across the world. These are often simple, inexpensive, field installable products that save time and drive a productivity mindset.

Additionally, they often collect data that is essential to troubleshooting and speedy resolutions. Being able to look at this data is the first step in a journey to preventative maintenance. Learning what makes your system unique, what it has in common with others and how it behaves in the real world gives you the ability to accelerate and apply productivity enhancements.

4. Spend Less

It’s easy to think about system efficiency strictly as the motor-drive rating. Whether you’re at IE2, IE3 or IE4, there is only a few percentiles difference in energy usage to be gained. The cost of energy is outpacing these gains, so it’s critical to use data to optimize your applications. Product intelligence is consistently underutilized. If you aren’t analyzing your systems and leveraging digital tools to monitor and control in real time, you might be paying much more than you realize through your energy provider and missing opportunities to extract additional value from your application. Get savvy with systems and products. Look for providers that can enable you to have access to your data but also offer insights and flexible tools that improve over time.

5. Learn a New Skill

I’ve worked around drives for over a decade and have seen some pretty harsh applications, as well as a few painful design and component issues. Even more amazing has been how frequently I’ve seen firmware updates come to the rescue. I know you’re thinking, “I don’t want to be a test bed,” and that’s fair. However, there’s a difference between being cautious and being outdated. Not only do your products get better, but they’ll be more secure as well. Keeping your firmware up to date is a great way to keep your system healthy and secure and even teach an old dog some new tricks.

While I know the average life span of a New Year’s resolution is exceptionally short, it’s important to remember that it’s never too late. Continuous improvement is a challenging and worthy journey to walk. Just like with personal goals, success increases when you share, discuss and even ask for help. Whether it’s one of these goals, or something entirely different, take the first and hardest step just by setting one.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and productive new year!