Pump review: IRN reports on rental pump applications and new submersibles

By Murray Pollok09 May 2012

An Eekels pump installation in Germany.

An Eekels pump installation in Germany.

IRN brings two pages of pump news, including application stories, new pump launches and developments in pump rental operations worldwide.

Xylem expands rental operations

Xylem, the new name for the former ITT Water & Wastewater business, is among those pump manufacturers who are taking a lead in developing the worldwide pump rental market. The company is investing in its rental networks, with France and Australia being just two current examples.

Fredrik Holm, communication manager at Xylem dewatering water solutions, tells IRN that the company will establish three rental facilities in France during 2012, with one each in the Brittany area, Lille and Toulouse.

"The demand for rental is increasing", he says, "It's a trend that we see globally. Budgets are getting tighter." He says Xylem will rent pumps on an equipment-only basis and also as part of an on-site dewatering service, with Xylem providing a complete solution, including personnel.

The company is also expanding its rental operation in Australia, and has just opened a new facility in Kalgoorlie, a major city in the Eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia.

John Lys, rental business development manager for Xylem Australia & New Zealand, tells IRN that "Xylem Kalgoorlie had outgrown the old facilities due to increase in demand for Xylem products and services in the region. The addition of Godwin diesel pumps for rent and sales was also a factor in needing the new and larger facility."

The facility will also house sales and after sales service operations for the Flygt submersible and Godwin dri-prime diesel pumps.

In terms of investment, Mr Lys says the focus has been on the diesel pump side with locally assembled Godwin pump sets for mining/ rental specification; "but we have also increased our fleet of the popular Flygt 2000 series of dewatering pumps."

Mining customers constitute the bulk of Xylem's pump rental business at the location, but Mr Lys also sees demand from related infrastructure projects and the energy sector. He says demand remains high; "Yes, very busy. Demand is stable despite talk about slower growth within key markets for minerals."

He tells IRN that in addition to expanding the pump range available to rent, the business is also developing its capability to offer complete dewatering solutions.

ArcGen looks at pump exports

ArcGen Hilta's new export sales director David Phipps is tasked with increasing export sales at the UK lighting tower, pump, pressure washer and generators supplier.

Mr Phipps, who joined Arcgen last year after a 14 year sales career with Finning UK, Skyjack, Turner Group and FG Wilson, has so far focused on increasing sales of the SMC branded lighting towers in Canada, Australia and more recently Brazil, which he visited in December.

However, he thinks that the Hilta range of pumps and also its Alcon sludge and slurry pumps are well suited to export rental markets.

The Alcon pumps have typically been used in agriculture but lend themselves also to applications in construction, says Mr Phipps; "With the Alcon pumps, the big benefit is their flexibility and reliability - that's the reason we're starting to focus on it. They just went out of fashion somehow, but in times of austerity it's got some real value. They are built to last."

The company is also pushing a new version of the Hilta C150, a 150 mm (6 in) centrifugal self-priming pump. The new Pro-Flo version has a choice of new Yanmar or Perkins engines, which are quieter and cleaner than the previous model (sound is 63 db(A) at 6 m).

Mr Phipps says the launch of the C150 Pro-Flo is just the start. "We will be focusing much more on pump development going forward." ArcGen Hilta also sells the Netherlands-produced BBA pumps in the UK, but will not be selling these in other markets.

Eekels grows rental business in Europe

Netherlands-based Eekels - pump rental company and manufacturer - recently partnered with Germany's Hidrostal GmbH to create a temporary sewage over-pumping installation as part of the refurbishmemt of the main inlet effluent screen at a water treatment plant in Dillingen, Germany.

It was a challenging project, with the reception sump (pictured here) measuring just 1.5 by 2.0 m and with a suction head of 7.5 m. To meet the 10000 m3/hr pumping requirement, Eekels installed five of its Hidrostal I16K-SS rental pumps with added electronic vacuum control as well as two submersible Hidrostil F10K-HD pumps. The unmanned installation ran continuously for two months.

The company is also investing in its 800 units pump rental fleet. This year is will add 10 Betsy 100 and 10 Betsy 125 pumps as well as two each of the Betsy 200, Betsy 300 and PP 10 pumps. The Betsy units are equipped with the Hidrostal centrifugal clog-free pump and Eekels' own priming system.

André Mooiman, Eekels rental manager, tells IRN that the rental business "is fast growing in Europe, especially in eastern Europe with a focus on Poland and the Baltic states. Eekels sees a big potential in the industrial sector, specifically in petrochemicals. The demand in this industry is picking up rapidly due to the high oil prices at the moment."

Eekels is also adding large specialist pumps to its fleet, including two large pump units with maximum flow rates of 1300 m3/hr and maximum pressures of 11 bar (160 psi), capable of passing 90 mm solids.

The new units will be equipped with exhaust filters to meet the latest EU engine emission regulations. The pumps will use John Deere diesel engines running at 2000 rpm and with a power output of 300 KW.

Skanska Maskin invests in Copco's WEDA pumps

Swedish rental company Skanska Maskin last year made the largest investment in new equipment in its history, and that new fleet included some WEDA submersible pumps from Atlas Copco Portable Energy, the division that is better known for its compressors, generators and lighting towers.

Arvid Trybom, a salesman for road and construction equipment at Skanska Maskin, says that at the start of 2010 it was clear that demand was increasing from its parent company, contractor Skanska; "It was obvious from early on that we had to expand in all levels of our business...[we] had to make investments in both machinery and personnel to ensure that the increasing numbers of new construction projects would run smoothly."

While assessing the requirements for new compressors, Skanska Maskin was in contact with Atlas Copco Portable Energy, who suggested that the company try the WEDA 10 submersible pump.

"That particular pump found its way to Skanska's pump maintenance section at Skanska Maskin in Upplands Väsby", says Mr Trybom, "Some tests where preformed on the pump, mainly to establish the average maintenance time and to get an assessment of meantime between failure. When the test results came back ‘thumbs up' we decided to buy a couple of pumps to do proper field tests." The testing process has led the rental company to make a further investment in the pumps.

Mr Trybom highlights the low weight of the WEDA 10 in relation to its capacity; "This is essential at construction sites where the pump is moved around several times a day, often carried by hand. It is robust and has low maintenance costs, and a relatively low price in relation to the capacity." Skanska Maskin is now undertaking similar trials with the larger WEDA 30 pump.

The rental company believes that the WEDA pumps have been a good investment; "Reinvestment costs are down by 20%", says Mr Trybom, "This has enabled us to put more pumps in buffer; the buffer rate has been increased from 10% to 20%. This in turn has lowered the risk of running out of pumps in exceptional situations (heavy rain, mild ‘snow melting' weather, etc)".

He says maintenance time is also down by 80%. "This has enabled us to shift focus from pure maintenance to production of custom-made solutions for the different construction sites."

Pumps in the family

Why is having a rental operation so important to pump manufacturer Thompson Pump? Bill Thompson, president of the family owned company, tells IRN that rental brings real product knowledge; "For a distributor to be successful they have to participate in rental as well as sales.

"When you have a rental fleet you have a depth of knowledge of product. If you are just selling, sometimes you don't have in-depth knowledge of what customers are actually doing."

This logic has led Thompson, a pump manufacturer, to operate 20 of its own rental branches, all located east of Kansas. In addition, its dealers in the rest of the country and outside North America are encouraged to rent as well as sell.

There is little concern about competing with other rental companies who might otherwise buy their pumps. Mr Thompson says most general rental companies invest in pumps up to a certain size and capacity; "Our forte starts where they leave off."

Thompson has 3000 pumps in its fleet, and the mix has changed in recent years in response to the downturn in construction. Now the fleet is aimed also at opportunities in oil and gas and energy, for applications such as water supply for exploration activities, pipeline transmission and in support of hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking') projects.

Investment in the rental fleet will increase by around 30% this year, says Bill Thompson, who founded the business in 1970 with his father and other family members, but the last five years has seen a lot of effort diverted into pump development.

Examples include automatic stop and start technology, remote pump monitoring and increases in pump sizes - with the largest model now a 24 in surface mounted pump. He says the advent of easily assembled high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes has enabled pump users to have higher capacity flows.

And it is pump sales that have helped the company though the recession. Five years ago rental was 65% of the business, but now it is at 45%; "We're climbing back up, but it's still smaller than we were in 2006."

Still, Mr Thompson, whose sons Chris and Bobby are playing an active role in the company, is optimistic; "There is a worldwide need for infrastructure - there is a lot of pent up demand out there. I see a very bright future for the rental industry, and pumps in particular."

Grindex revamp

Grindex is launching a "complete revamp" of its Micro, Mini and Solid submersible pumps, with flow rates of 4, 6, and 7 litres/second, respectively, and pumping heads of up to 10, 16 and 12 m.

Improvements include an air valve that cools the motor when the pump runs dry; a water cut that prevents leakage through the power cable; a thermal contact that protects the motor from overheating; double mechanical shaft seals in the oil bath; and a rubber strainer that improves the shock resistance.

Serviceability is also easier, with the Mini and Solid pumps fitted with external oil plugs, which means they do not need to be disassembled to check the oil.

The Solid sludge pump can handle solids up to the size of 38 mm, and the Mini now also replaces the older Macro pump, but with a 20% better performance, says Grindex.

Hard-wearing Wacker pumps

Three Wacker Neuson PS4 7503HH electric submersible pumps have been in continuous use for three years to drain a slag heap at the Maxhütte steelworks in Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Germany.

The drainage project is part of a much wider redevelopment project at the site following the closure of the works in 2002.

The 55 m high waste heap needs drained before it can be removed and Wacker Neuson's depot at Regenstauf supplied the three pumps because they are specifically designed for tough conditions and for high head applications.

The High Head version is capable of a head of up to 40 m and can process solids measuring up to 8.5 mm in diameter.

The three pumps are dipped in a cleaning bath at regular intervals to remove stubborn slag deposits, and Wacker Neuson reports that, despite the conditions the pumps have been absolutely reliable.

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