Adam Schantz & Bret Tregarthen, Franklin Electric
If someone is tasked with getting more done in less time, they are not alone. This is especially true for engineers specifying a pumping system. Specifying pumping systems has become more complex with more options, unique application requirements and increased optimization needs. For engineers, that means the demands of finding the best solution for the application have become more challenging.
With many new and changing variables to consider, how can a user be sure they are designing the most optimized pumping system for their needs? That is where online selection tools, driven by advanced technology, can help. These tools have evolved over the years to include more robust information while helping to streamline the selection process. They not only do the critical calculations needed to optimize a system, but also show options that may have otherwise been overlooked. If anyone has ever wondered how these online tools work—and how they can work for user needs—consider these key features:
With so many pumping system options, it can be hard to pinpoint the solution that will work best for a project. This is where online tools provide benefits. The key is finding the online resource that works for user needs and factors in the application inputs and performance requirements. Only then will a user benefit from a truly streamlined selection process.
When considering an online selection tool, look for one that is designed for ease of use, yet still allows the ability to input parameters for customization. A digital tool should factor in project-specific performance requirements or specs, such as water flow and head requirements, as well as voltage and other electrical considerations. The best tools will allow users to input both simple and advanced parameters while reducing time-consuming manual calculations and data searches.
In fact, online tools can combine all application parameters into fast results. This can include the recommended system components, a complete price quote and important accompanying documents: performance curves, dimensional drawings and detailed specifications of components. This allows a user to present a complete system solution.
When using an online sizing and selection tool, a user will likely be able to conduct either a basic search that requires only primary application data (such as flow and total dynamic head requirements) or a more advanced selection that considers some additional variables for the situation. For example: does the system need to be mobile or permanent? How far is the closest water source? Are there multiple duty points? Questions like these can factor into the search and help the tool recommend a pump that best operates in the conditions the project demands.
More advanced selection tools can also allow users to filter or narrow down their selection based on the parameters that are most important to the user: suction/discharge size, power requirements, net positive suction head (NPSH), desired speed of operation, number of stages, bowl diameter, power rating and other relevant factors such as impeller trim selection and energy output.
Performance curves are critical to any pump specification, and advanced online selection tools can generate pump and motor performance curves containing both fixed and variable speeds. When evaluating an online tool, look for one that offers assisted selection and a comprehensive visual representation that helps avoid near-misses based on hydraulic considerations.
The best online tools include performance curves for single or multipump systems where pumps are working in parallel configurations. They also provide hydraulic load data at various duty points on the curve with ease. This could identify if the selection meets the required demand on technically challenging systems with varying water levels. More advanced software includes a feature that can assist professionals in ensuring their pumping selection will be non-overloading throughout the curve. If a user wants to evaluate how their pump performs under more demanding parameters, they can instantly see how this will affect performance.
As pumping system technologies become more advanced, keeping up with new product innovations can be challenging. The pumping systems used in the past may not always be the best solution going forward. Online tools can present all options in one place–the known and the new. Users can design a complete system beyond the pump, including drivers and controls and convenient switching devices (including pressure transducers and sensors).
For example, advancements and evolutions in submersible and surface pumping systems have broadened the application potential for these systems. An online tool can help a user see the performance difference offered between a submersible and surface pumping system, so users can better evaluate options.
If expanding into more specialized or customized solutions that may be new, online tools can help shorten the learning curve and provide more confidence in the opportunities available. Solar is a good example. Some online resources provide solar-specific tools that present total package options, including return on investment, peak run time and projected run time based on regional irradiation hours. These are ready to present to end users and help answer critical questions.
Online sizing and selection tools allow users to save, access and store critical details all in one place. They can build a project, save it and add to it later if needed. This allows a user to build a budgetary baseline for the pumping system if needed during the initial stages of project planning. Easy-to-access knowledge like this can give users a foundation for determining the total project cost to present.
If working in a team environment, prepare specifications online and share the documentation with internal and manufacturer partners for easier collaboration, input and revisions. When revisions or tweaks are needed, it is easy to do within a saved project.
When it is time to present a written specification, the quoting package can include full submittal documentation that can be generated and saved for the future. This includes every aspect of NPSH, dimensional drawings, weights, electrical specifications and owner’s manual. Every aspect of a pumping system can be listed in a comprehensive format.
If timing and delivery are important, some of these tools can show estimated lead times. This saves engineers a phone call to a manufacturer or distributor and can help with more accurate planning and timeline management.
As technology in the field evolves, so does the technology that helps select a pumping system. Online tools and resources can help streamline the selection process and provide engineers with the tools needed to quickly present options. While online tools may not guarantee a system's life expectancy, they can instill confidence that the most efficient option has been selected within the pump’s recommended operating range.
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As featured in the Pumps & Systems' article: Simplify the Selection Process
About the Authors:
Franklin Electric is a global leader in the production and marketing of systems and components for the movement of water and energy. Recognized as a technical leader in its products and services, Franklin Electric serves customers around the world in residential, commercial, agricultural, industrial, municipal, and fueling applications. Franklin Electric is proud to be named in Newsweek’s lists of America’s Most Responsible Companies and Most Trustworthy Companies for 2024 and America’s Climate Leaders 2023 by USA Today.