What’s trending in pumps

By |  January 30, 2024
Ken Albaugh

Ken Albaugh

P&Q caught up last year with Ken Albaugh, director of sales and services at Xylem, to discuss concepts such as water management, sustainability and digitalization as it relates to pumps.

P&Q: Are you seeing scrutiny of aggregate producers today and how they use and manage water? Any scrutiny of the industry probably starts with mining, but aggregate producers are expected to be good stewards of water too, right?

Albaugh: In the years I’ve been around mining, the mining community as a whole gets a really bad rap. Some of the biggest conservationists I know are mining people.

There’s no mining company operating that is out there trying to hurt or damage anything. They want to know how to use water efficiently and correctly.

We’re talking to a lot of people about water quality monitoring at their discharge. Also, they don’t want dirty water at their screening. They want water to be as clean as possible at their screens. All of those different ideas and solutions are coming into play.

P&Q: We’re hearing quite a bit these days about sustainability. Do you have customers coming to you looking for solutions in this area?

Albaugh: There’s obviously a huge shift away from the diesel-powered equipment, getting more electrically efficient. With some of the products we’ve launched over the years, we’ve seen huge efficiency gains.

We focus on trying to make the most efficient water-moving equipment, whether it’s the design of the impellers or how the piping system is designed. We’re seeing a lot of that.

We do a lot of energy audits for customers. We’ll go out and use our optimyze units, putting them on equipment so we can see vibration. With our different controllers, we can see amp draws. We can look at where [customers] are on their pump curves and say: ‘This pump is running way out here and being inefficient, and you may be using more horsepower than you need to in the application.’

Photo: Xylem

Condition monitoring tools now provide health guidance and predictive maintenance advice for rotating and fixed assets such as pumps and motors. Photo: Xylem

P&Q: You just touched on monitoring technology and knowing what your equipment is doing. Where is Xylem with that right now, and where do you think the company is going with it?

Albaugh: Digital is a huge focus for us as a company. It’s also a huge focus for pretty much everybody … whether it’s our Aquavar IPCs [or] smart technology for our diesel-driven pumps.

All of our products can be lit up so the owner/operator can see how they’re performing. Pit operators can look at their cellphone on a Saturday if it started raining and see if their pump’s pumping and know if their water quality is good.

P&Q: How much of digitalization is being driven by the manufacturer versus the customer?

Albaugh: It varies. Almost every one of our solutions is scalable. With our Field Smart Technology, if somebody just wants to see if the pump is running and if it’s got fuel, they can do that. But if you’ve got a reliability engineer who wants to see engine loads and those things, we can provide that as well.

With a lot of our customers, we’ll start with entry-level data. Some of your national-level people want everything.

Also, I think it all has to be tied back to actual maintenance and production. It has to be tied back to something tangible. You can get data overload very quickly. You can blast parameters to people who are never going to change.

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