Identifying Bad Actors

Chances are that the existing pumping systems in your plant are less than optimal. There is a simple process for identifying “bad actors” by following the Hydraulic Institute’s (HI) six-step action plan for evaluating existing pumping systems:

1. Screen and prioritize your pumping systems to identify good performance improvement candidates.

Working as a team (operations, maintenance, engineering, purchasing), identify pumps that have required an excessive amount of maintenance or resulted in lost production, as well those that require further analysis. HI has a pre-screening form available for download at to assist in the screening process. Priorities for detailed investigation include:

  • systems that are controlled by throttling valves
  • systems where several pumps are normally run in parallel
  • systems with frequent on/off cycling of a pump in a continuous process
  • systems with no flow, pressure or power indication
  • pump systems with high energy use

Now rank pumps with opportunities for performance improvement.

2. Get management support for improving the highest priority pumping systems.

Now that you have identified opportunities, present your findings to management for support in proceeding with further analysis.

3. Work with pumping system specialists or an in-house team to gather and analyze additional data.

You may want to consider using an outside specialist or contact your electric utility, but make sure the specialist is qualified to perform this service.  A list of certified Pump Systems Assessment Professionals (PSAP) can be found at   

4. Identify, economically validate and implement performance improvement opportunities.

HI has a list of available tools, both commercial and free, at

Energy savings are important, but in many cases, the non-energy benefits outweigh the energy benefits. To financially justify an improvement, you often need to include the total cost of ownership.

    Some improvement opportunities may not require a great deal of work or cost, such as eliminating unnecessary pump uses or improving operations and maintenance practices.

5. Document actions and report results to management.

Failure to identify and present positive results to management is a typical mistake, but remember that management has skin in the game. They approved the funding, and their superiors expect results.

6. Repeat Action Plan process for other good candidate systems.

If you have followed the process correctly, step six should be easy since management will be asking you to look for additional systems to evaluate.

Bill Livoti, Pumps & Systems, Aug. 30, 2017