Significance of Industrial Centrifugal Pumps

Of all Industrial Pumps that are used to pump fluids, Centrifugal Pumps are the most popularly used due to their Smooth flow rate, Range of capacity, Design simplicity and Ease of maintenance and operations. Centrifugal pumps play an important role in operations in various industries such as Oil and Mining, Chemical, Food and Beverages and more. In fact, it is estimated that there are more pumps than employees in the Chemical Industry. A study in Germany revealed that there is a ratio of 1:1.25 between Employee and Pumps in Chemical Industry. In most other industries though this figure might not hold true but it definitely goes without saying that these pumps are expensive and their repair or replacement is a cost burden for the business. Most end users of Centrifugal Pumps are thus looking at solutions that can help ease this burden.

Here are some ways in which Centrifugal Pumps are contributing to the success of just some of the industries:

Water desalination plants

UN predicts that 14% of the global population will be suffering from water scarcity by 2025. This is bound to make water desalination plants a vital process. This process involves separating dissolved salts and other minerals from otherwise unusable water. Through this process, potable water can be transferred to areas that need it most. And, although desalination methods vary dramatically (from nanofiltration to electrodialysis), what unites these processes is the usage of centrifugal pumps. More than capable of transporting solid-containing seawater efficiently, self-priming centrifugal pumps are especially popular with high capacity water desalination plants.

Mining industry

The mining industry is unconventional in that it uses centrifugal pumps in an altogether different manner to similar industries. In the context of mining, despite being the same mechanism structurally, a centrifugal pump is known as a froth pump, because of the product it is altered to produce. Mineral processing owes the separation of precious minerals from gangue and bitumen to the intervention of centrifugal pumps. As well as actually playing a part in processing the minerals themselves, centrifugal pumps are also used to transport the slurries and solid-containing fluids that accumulate during the mining process.

Petrochemical plants

The petrochemical industry is worth well over $500 billion, and it relies heavily on centrifugal pumps. Given not only the value of the petrochemical components in use but also the very real danger of them igniting means that the robustness of the centrifugal pumps involved is of extreme importance. Consequently, the production of plastics, rubbers, and dyes is also done through well-designed centrifugal pumps.

Centrifugal Pump

What is significant is that operations at all these industries are heavily dependent on Centrifugal Pumps. Thus Pump efficiency, monitoring and arising costs are of extreme importance to these industries. Pump downtime can put operations at a complete halt leading to revenue loss. Further damage repair or Pump replacement is also very expensive. To mitigate such losses pump users want to avoid damages to the pumping equipment. Some common causes for the damage of components of Centrifugal Pump are:

    The packing or seal in a centrifugal pump prevents leakage of pumped liquid from the volute casing. Demand for continuous operation of pump, and presence of corrosive working environment prevailing in most industries lead to seal damage that can cause fluid leakage.

    Bearing failures can occur due to incorrect lubrication, misalignment or improper maintenance. Other factors responsible for the failure of a bearing are presence of reactive environment and high temperature of the pumped liquid.

    Impeller failures occur due to fatigue failure caused by cyclic loading and pressure pulsations in the pump. Impeller failure also occurs due to improper heat treatment, poor surface finish or insufficient radial clearance between impeller and volute casing.

    Corrosive environment causes formation of cracks and subsequent fracture of shaft.

All these damages contribute to problems such as overheating, over noise, leakage, suction clogging, and most importantly no pumping or pump downtime.

So the question that arises is how can pump manufacturers/ rentals ensure that such problems are not faced by pump users. The most obvious response is by performing predictive maintenance through constant monitoring to ensure that the damage is contained at an early stage and there is no scope of operational downtime.

However, we realize that manual monitoring is :

Expensive

In terms of Human Resource Cost: It is extremely expensive and time-consuming to allocate human resources to manually inspect each and every pumping component. It is especially difficult in industries such as mining which operate in extreme environments.

Not Accurate

Manually collected data is prone to human error.

Non-Comprehensive

It is difficult to understand data patterns from manually collected data as it is not humanly possible to monitor every small parameter such as how many times a pump is being turned on and off.


Technology Solution:

For Centrifugal Pump stakeholders such as manufacturers, rentals, users or Support teams; pump monitoring can be done easily and remotely through IIoT based application. Such an IoT platform for these IIoT integrated smart pumping solutions comprise of three significant parts:

  • Sensors, including cables and junction boxes
  • Data collection device
  • Monitoring/analysis software

The sensors work to pick data from different hardware which is then relayed using GPRS/Internet/ Ethernet etc to a web-based application which stakeholders can access on their smart devices such as phones, laptops, and computers.

Some of the data parameters that can be closely observed are:

Vibrations/ Noise

Noise levels in excess of 100 decibels indicate potential mechanical failures or vibration problems in a centrifugal pump. Main reasons for excessive noise are impeller damage, misalignment, worn-out bearing, bent shaft or lack of prime. Corrective measures for reducing excessive noise include replacement of worn out or damaged parts such as impeller, bearing, and shaft, alignment of rotating parts and provision of appropriate priming methods. The IIoT platform helps to monitor noise levels and associated data.

Temperature

A centrifugal pump gets overheated due to faulty packing or bearing, misalignment, and obstruction in delivery line. Periodic maintenance activities such as proper tightening of packing, cleaning dirt in bearings and packing them with correct grade lubricant in the correct quantity and prudent plumbing layout are the corrective steps to overcome overheat problem. Thus when the IIoT platform picks data on temperatures crossing the ideal threshold, corrective measures such as this can be put in place to prevent pump failure.

Gap between the impeller and Pump Housing

This gap is an indication of Wear and tear of impeller blades leading to reduced pump efficiency and eventual plant downtime. As the impeller wears, the gap between the impeller and the pump housing increases. Data regarding this gap can be collected easily through appropriate sensors used in the IIoT Platform.

These are only some of the real-time operational parameters that you can measure. At Qwentic we have customized each of our solutions to the needs of our clients. To know more about how you can make your Centrifugal Pumps smart, drop us a message here.

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Qwentic is a leading technology consulting company, engaged in offering end to end consulting services. We are technology consulting partners to several leading businesses across a diverse range of industries spanning Logistics, Healthcare, Advertisement, and E-learning

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