A systems attitude to pumps

Integrating pumps into system designs achieves better-performing systems with lower energy consumption and other benefits. Gary Wheatley of Wilo UK explains.

The pump market is changing in many ways, and not just in the higher levels of efficiency that pumps have to meet following changes in EU regulations. Perhaps the most important change we’re seeing is the move away from pump manufacturers simply supplying pumps that consultants and contractors are ordering for a project towards the adoption of a proactive approach to supplying total solutions, often in partnership with other component manufacturers, offering a total response to the need to reduce energy usage, lower energy bills and reduce emissions, whilst seeking innovative new ways of responding to the challenges of modern day building provision and renovation.

Every major building relies heavily on pumps of various designs, shapes and sizes to run the heating, air conditioning, chilled water, potable water supply, to distribute harvested rainwater and to remove the sewage and greywater from the building.

Their roles are many and various but all are vital.

Modern pump technology allows these tasks to be undertaken far less expensively in upgrade and renovation projects simply by replacing elderly existing pumps with modern high-efficiency pumps that are designed to do their jobs better, quicker, less expensively, in a more environmentally friendly way and more reliably.

In new buildings, where you can start from a blank sheet of paper, modern pump technology allows specifiers and consultants to seek the optimum solution for that building without any restrictions on infrastructure, incorporating system solutions that include the latest pump technology from top to bottom, along with the necessary building-management system to take advantage of all that new technology offers, within the budgetary restrictions they will inevitably have to work with. Modern pump technology quite simply offers a win, win solution.

The key words when looking at system-based solutions are ‘lifecycle costs’. Modern pumps undoubtedly have a more expensive capital cost than their elderly relatives. The new technology in the modern pumps comes with a price. But the payback from modern pumps is usually extremely fast in relation to the capital cost, because the energy required to run these new pumps is far less — so that over a 15-year lifecycle, huge savings in terms of energy cost can be made, and large emission reductions can be shown. With far less energy use also come far lower energy bills and far lower maintenance costs for the building.

The process for achieving these huge savings can be disarmingly simple — whether for a new building or an existing one.

An example of where this approach has worked well is the recent selection of Wilo by Crown House Technologies as a partner for the pumping requirements for the heating, cooling and chilled water systems of two major heathcare developments in the North East — one a renovation project, the other a new build.

Wilo UK, pump, pipes, pipework
This prefabricated skid-mounted pump solution for a major hospital project will deliver long-term energy savings that will quickly offset its higher capital cost.

One site provides a range of clinical services which includes the adult service facility, learning disability services, older people's continuing care services and adult rehabilitation services.

Nearby, a new hospital has been built on the site of a previous hospital that was demolished to make way for the new development. The new multi-million pound facility replaces old and outdated hospital accommodation.

When the development was originally devised, it included pumps with IE3 motors, but Wilo offered consultants Crown House Technologies, part of Laing O’Rourke, a response using the Giga high-efficiency glanded pump with an efficiency in excess of IE4. This approach was selected when the longer-term energy savings were shown to be very much in the trust’s interests.

Every component in the Giga, from the drive, through the electronics to the hydraulics, is designed operate at the highest level, in perfect co-ordination with each of the components in the unit. Although the capital cost of the pumps is higher than lower-efficiency alternatives, the life-cycle costings, taking into consideration the lower energy costs, lower maintenance costs and the carbon savings, made the decision to go with the Giga an easier option than it may have initially appeared.

The pump assemblies were put together off site, dropped onto skids that were then transported into site and slotted together simply, without any hot works, ensuring that tip-top quality control was maintained and maximum health and safety was in place.

There can be no doubt that adopting a system-based approach pays dividends for all concerned — achieving the cost, emissions and energy savings that everyone involved in projects is seeking.

Whilst the components of a system are undoubtedly more sophisticated by design, use of these components allows a far simpler system-based approach to provide the solutions that make the projects simpler to manage, easier to evaluate and more rewarding long term as benefits build, year on year.

Gary Wheatley is technical and training manager with Wilo UK.

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