By Keith Sanders
For regular readers of Pump Industry E-newsletters, they will have been heartened by the projection that the economic stimulus measures likely to be adopted by the Federal Government will result in new investment in a number of important projects designed to create employment and improve infrastructure for longer term benefits to the economy.
For those who didn’t see it, the headline was as follows:
“On Tuesday 6 October, Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, delivered the 2020-21 Federal Budget, which has been dubbed one of the most important government packages in 75 years. In his speech, Mr Frydenberg identified a number of crucial components of the Budget, including but not limited to, gas supply, resource investment, NAIF reforms, water infrastructure upgrades, emissions reductions, manufacturing initiatives and tax write-offs.”
However, the government has made it clear that they see themselves as “Enablers”, to provide incentives for the private sector to engage in the individual infrastructure projects. It is important that these incentives do not result in projects being rushed through, with incorrect or inadequate resources being allocated, as has happened in previous government stimulus packages.
Some of these initiatives will inevitably result in demand for pumping equipment, much of which can be met from relatively “standard products” available from inventories kept by the local supply chain. Other more complicated projects will require “engineered products’ that need to be manufactured to order, with design features included to meet more severe operating conditions that may be encountered.
Each project will need to be carefully analysed to determine what the specific operating conditions are likely to be and then important choices made about the processes by which these projects may be engineered for long-term operating efficiency, reliability and serviceability.
Pump manufacturing in Australia to meet demands: past and present
In earlier times, Australian pump manufacturers have been able to supply equipment that is designed, manufactured, tested, installed and commissioned on-site. When the country was growing rapidly in the 1970s and 1980s, projects in the water supply and sewage sector, in the power generation section, and the mining and mineral exploration sector could largely be sourced reliably from well-established companies such as Kelly & Lewis, Thompsons, Industrial Engineering and Warman who had close working relationships with client engineers and consultants to delivery equipment that was totally fit for purpose.
Building services markets and general industrial clients were well serviced by both manufacturers and importers of standard products with the ability to customise the equipment to meet specific user needs. Ajax Pumps, Regent Pumps, Gaam Engineering, Southern Cross and similar businesses offered a selection of products to ensure that there was a vibrant supply side to satisfy this demand.
However, in today’s market, the situation is entirely different and actual manufacture of pumping equipment only occurs in specialist niches and with limited capacity to react to a sudden increase in demand. End suction pumps to ISO 2858 can still be sourced from Australian manufacturers, while EN733 (DIN) pumps are exclusively imported from overseas manufacturers, most notably from China.
Because there has been a significant shift away from local manufacture, it is doubtful if this situation can be reversed. This will result in some difficult choices for project managers, particularly from the “tender system” that is employed to select the successful supplier.
They will need to understand a variety of supply side issues in an effort to choose the right equipment for the job, rather than accept the lowest price.
Sourcing equipment from overseas: what you need to know
As the sourcing of products will increasingly turn to overseas suppliers, it is important to understand who is operating in the global market and what level of confidence the end user can place in the performance offered by multi-national players as well as alternative supply sources particularly from China and India, where low-cost standard and engineered product can be sourced. The capabilities of potential suppliers need to be evaluated to ensure they can actually complete the work effectively and on time.
The sensible use of an Engineering Specification and associated Inspection and Test Plans (ITPs) can provide the project manager with a series of control points at which approvals are necessary.
Because of the adoption of the metric system in Australia and the fact we generate electricity at 50hz, the European developments are more closely aligned to our region and are also based on a greater commitment to action on climate change than exists in the US.
It is only in the oil and gas sector that American technology still dominates. However, Europe is slowly harmonising with the requirements of API 610, which is now in its 12th edition, and ISO 13709 has been issued to facilitate this.
Developments that cover identified “standard product” categories produced as complete units principally for water applications are sold with minimum customisation to match user needs for ready availability and for projects with a relatively short lifespan. European legislation exists already for a whole suite of pumps that are in common use as shown in the diagram below.
Roadmap for energy efficiency regulation in the European Union
The full regulation for the European Union is contained in Commission Regulation (EU) No 547/2012. It is my intention to summarise the requirements of this legislation and how it was arrived at. There has been consultation with European pump industry representatives and Institutes of Technology that were monitoring the overall supply side issues. However, Europump has released a more user-friendly document as part of the EUROPEAN PUMP INDUSTRY-ENERGY COMMITMENT outlining the Ecopump guidelines. This brochure is available on the Europump website at Europump.org.
As soon as more severe operating conditions or longer operating lifespans are to be managed, then users have to consider more specific design features and this takes them into the realm of “engineered pumps”.
These are manufactured to different specifications, built to more exacting QA requirements and where performance testing at the manufacturers works is conducted to verify hydraulic performance in the “as-built” condition.
Consultation with suppliers who have experience of working with these more arduous operating conditions becomes beneficial and first cost is not the most important consideration.
In this area, industry experience is a stronger factor than legislation and minimising energy consumption is only one of the three factors involved in the selection process. Power consumption and the cost of keeping the equipment in service become particularly important over the lifespan of the plant. Projected life expectancy of more than 20 years means the justification for a lifecycle cost analysis becomes more significant.
In this regard, the use of ISO 50001-2018 – Energy Management Systems, can provide a useful platform for assessing the long-term performance of plant and equipment. This embodies the use of several other standards such as ISO 14414 – Pump System Energy Assessment, which has recently been adopted by Standards Australia without amendment.
As a result, even relatively new project managers now have a toolkit of standards developed in conjunction with industry on which to base the decisions that confront them at the key stages of the project. These decisions will involve choices for plant and equipment, use of profession expertise at key points.
The use of acknowledged systems for ensuring OH&S requirements, Quality Standards and energy consumption can ensure targets are met.
The success for these project solutions will stand on three important pillars:
- System design and equipment selection based on an accurate assessment of operating conditions, power consumption and routine servicing requirements
- Performance verification, installation and commissioning followed by site testing
- Performance auditing after a suitable period of operation and corrective action as necessary
These pillars will be outlined in more detail in future articles and will hopefully ensure that the financial resources that are made available not only create more jobs for Australians, but also contribute to better outcomes in meeting other important objectives in terms of climate change, water resources and energy conservation.