Research and referrals help to choose the best package for the application.
Henry Ford, one of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time, once said, "You can have a Model T in any color as long as it's black." That famous quote continues to be a shining example of how the "no option assembly line" was required to bring the automobile to the masses. Ford knew that this production style and business model was necessary to bring automobiles to the American people and, by doing so, changed the way we live.
Times changed. Automobile manufacturers listened to their customers and evolved. Now, numerous colors, styles, brands and other options are available. Just as with pumping systems, the overall package can be catered to the needs of the user.
The water and wastewater industry has similarities when considering specific features. Just as the automobile began as a machine to transport people from one location to another, pumps were invented to transport liquid from one place to another.
Through the years, pump manufacturers found their niche and stuck with what they knew. Rarely would a manufacturer of self-priming trash pumps also build submersible pumps. The manufacturers developed their particular style and type of pump to do a particular job while the competition produced the same thing with a slightly different twist. As time went on, some manufacturers began to build pumps similar to the competition or, as is more common now, they might buy out their competition.
Today, with so many different pumps available to cover a few individual markets, there is substantial overlap. While several pump types are suitable to perform a particular application, what makes one better than the other? The answer will not always be found by talking to the pump manufacturer that will only give the best of what it has to offer. End users must look deeper, at the entire package.
Consider the System Requirements
Every pumping application is unique—from the flow and head required, to the media that is pumped. Most common questions that are asked during pump selection do not go far enough. The pump is the heart of the system, but what about everything else that makes up that system? Valves, controls, piping, enclosures and tanks are all required to complete a pumping system. The requirements of such appurtenances may dictate the style of pump that is best suited for the application.
The pump manufacturers may not know the best approach for dealing with these requirements and may not have the correct type of pump for the needs. This is why companies that specialize in packaged pumping systems are growing in popularity. These companies can help determine the exact fit of the entire pumping system and will take unit responsibility for its operation.
Be aware that not all packaged pumping system manufacturers have the same flexibility when providing multiple options. Remember, the requirement is not just getting from Point A to Point B anymore. It involves moving the medium efficiently in a cost-effective way while providing additional features that make life better for the end users and their customer.
Select the Right Manufacturer
The popularity of packaged pumping systems is growing, especially in the municipal lift station and water booster markets. However, not all system packagers are created equally. So, what should end users look for in a packaged pump system manufacturer?
In these struggling economic times, many companies claim to be pumping system packagers. While they do build pump systems with pipes and valves, end users should make sure that the manufacturers have the experience to back up their work. If unsure, ask for a reference list. End users must do a little research to avoid wasted time and trips down the wrong path with a company that only wants to increase its bottom line by selling valves and piping.
Quality and Safety
To establish a level of quality and safety, do not take someone's word that the packaged system is built that way. End users should ask for proof, such as a third party certification (such as Underwriters Laboratories, U.L.) Certificate. U.L. is perhaps the most well-known third party safety testing and certification organization. Similar to the standards for industrial control panels, U.L. has a listing for packaged pumping systems noted as QCZJ.
A quality packaged pumping system manufacturer will have an engineering department with at least one professional engineer who can stamp drawings and calculations. This will separate a backyard builder from a legitimate company that can properly design a system. Having an engineering department ensures that the mechanics and hydraulics of the packaged system are adequate.
Engineers should design systems that incorporate ease of maintenance, standard parts, structural integrity and pipe supports while using proper hydraulic practices. Bill of materials, 3-D drawings and structural and seismic calculations are all important components of a successful packaged pumping system manufacturers' engineering department.
The application engineers of a qualified packaged pumping system manufacturer will have years of experience working with pumps and their systems. As mentioned earlier, the pump is the heart of the system. However if the system is not sized properly, it will adversely affect the operation and life span of the pump.
Many factors should be considered when designing a packaged pumping system, and it should all start by listening to the customer.
Perhaps the most important factor to consider when selecting a manufacturer of packaged pumping systems is flexibility. Flexibility in pump types, control options, enclosures and materials of construction. End users want to work with a company that will help them design the packaged system that is best for their application. They should not be sold on a system that does not fit with the existing equipment just because the manufacturer doesn't offer it.
If submersible pumps are working well, end users should stick with them and not change to a different concept just because the packager does not offer submersible packages.
If submersibles are not working, then end users should try something new, such as a self-priming package or a vacuum prime package. Simply put, select a system that meets the application's needs first and has the flexibility to offer many solutions to the pumping challenge.
As the popularity of packaged pumping systems increases, more types of packaged systems emerge, from simplex grinder pumps in a fiberglass wet well with pipe, valves and controls to multiple-pump, water booster systems with stainless steel headers and variable frequency drives enclosed in a pre-packaged concrete masonry unit (CMU) building.
Evolving to meet the customer demands, packaged pumping systems provide the peace of mind that the entire system has been engineered for the specific application. Some of the most popular packaged pumping systems are discussed in this section.
- Sewage lift stations or storm water pump stations—Some examples are above ground, self priming, above ground vacuum priming, fiberglass wet well with integral valve vault for submersible pumps, fiberglass wet well with above ground valve vault for submersible pumps.
- Water boosters—Examples are simplex or multiple water booster systems designed with isolation, check and pressure relief valves. Pressure tanks, jockey pumps and variable speed controls with PLC logic that will operate the system at its optimal efficiency are becoming standards rather than options. These packaged systems can be above ground or below ground with choices of styles and construction materials of the enclosures.
- Chemical Feed—Chemical feed systems using dosing pumps, valves and controls used to inject chemicals into a process can also be packaged. These systems have been used in industrial applications for years but are now gaining popularity in the municipal market. Disinfection, polymer make down systems and even onsite chlorine generation are all viable packaged pumping systems that are available on the market.
Whether you are a consulting engineer, a contractor or an end user, working with the right manufacturer of packaged pumping systems can save time and money while providing end users with a great design and a turnkey system. This gives end users the peace of mind of knowing that they have the best system available. Remember, the important factor is to choose the packaged pumping system that is best suited to the application requirements. Insist on a manufacturer that can provide a custom fit for the application.
Pumps & Systems, July 2011