Modern pumps are a crucial element in many process control systems. But, despite their importance, it is rare today for them to monitor real-time failure or optimal performance. In fact, there are typically few if any pump-level diagnostic systems in most industrial systems.
However, that picture is changing quickly as leading manufacturers are starting to offer IoT diagnostic capabilities as an option on their pumps. These OEMs are beginning to understand that IIoT can assist beyond simply avoiding pump failure, which itself can result in manufacturing supply chain delays and significant profit losses. In fact, IoT can help their end customers extract the most value from their products while also creating new service revenue opportunities for them and their dealer networks. Here are some other strategic and financial reasons for pump manufacturers to deploy IIoT.
Improving Strategic Value
Pumps are a vital component in many process systems. However, because pumps are sold through distributors and integrated by pipefitters, they are embedded into an overall process system (along with piping, valves, and other equipment). In that sense, pumps are a layer removed from the end-users view, and pump manufacturers rarely have access to field data. IoT provides a direct view of these critical “systems within a system,” giving all organizations with interest in the pumps a window into how they are performing.
While IoT sensor platforms are being used by the end-users to quickly tune, optimize, or increase the speed, quality, and efficiency of pumps in the production process, they can also be used by OEMs to monitor the reliability and performance of their pumps in action. Areas of product improvement can be assessed when evaluating sensor information to support the continuous improvement of the design. Overbuilt pumps may be needlessly expensive, while underbuilt pumps may be too prone to failure.
Rather than relying on post-failure repair information, pump OEMs now have valuable operational data to create digital twins, which they can use to simulate and improve their designs. For instance, mining industry plants were recently operated thousands of pumps in extremely harsh conditions. The pumps were failing at a high rate, and the company had no idea why.
By implementing IOT sensors on the pumps, the end-user and the OEM discovered vibration and pressure spikes that needed to be addressed. Root cause analysis identified the cause as the unexpected hardening of the slurry carried through the pumps and injected into the equipment. Changes were made in the mix to reduce the hardening and eliminate excessive wear. The OEM was also able to utilize the data to consider the product’s performance and help steer the customer to the root cause problem. In this case, it was the material at fault and not the pump.
Increasing Financial Value
As noted above, the distribution model for pumps creates a disconnect between the manufacturer and the end-users. This also cuts off a potential service and support revenue stream for the OEM. IoT platforms create a service opportunity for pump OEMs to orchestrate the best service possible for the customer. Whether direct to the manufacturer or through local service providers, the manufacturer can watch over the process to ensure that the end customer experience is outstanding.
Monitoring the equipment allows for data trending, failure detection, and predictive analytics. This approach improves uptime, quality, and safety of industrial facilities. When pumps utilize IoT condition monitoring, the operation becomes more efficient. These results provide measurable value to OEMs, end-users, and service partners.
For instance, an OEM partner of Preddio’s was approached in 2020 regarding a vibration problem with a pump used in aluminum production. The end-user noticed that the hydrate pump would infrequently but aggressively vibrate when it turned on and ramped up to 1,200 RPM. Given the vibrations were erratic and would occur for only 5-10 minutes during the pump’s activation, the service team could not pinpoint the problem.
Heavy vibration can signal imbalance, misalignment, looseness, and late-stage bearing wear – all early warning signs of impending failure. The customer would risk destroying a $40,000 pump without addressing the issue. By deploying an IOT sensor and monitoring platform, the end-user could capture the exact time and duration of the vibration. This information was shared with the pump service company enabling them to determine the problem. The customer avoided damaging a critical piece of equipment, which would have resulted in $100,000 or more per hour in lost production. In addition, the OEM also reaped many benefits by improving customer satisfaction, reducing warranting claims, and improving the product ownership experience.
Speed and Cost Makes Leveraging an IoT Partner Ideal
While leading pump OEMs are taking full advantage of IoT today, others have been challenged in getting development programs off the ground. Developing IoT platforms from scratch requires specialized talent that is uniquely different from what is needed to produce pumps. Even those developing what is considered ‘smart pumps’ today often have limited electronics and software competencies across their organization.
The lack of IoT diagnostics puts these companies at a disadvantage. A solution can be working with private labeled IoT solutions to complement their internal development strategies. However, when choosing an IoT partner, pump OEMs must focus on suppliers that provide a business for business (B4B) approach to solution development.
The Preddio Way
The foundation of the Preddio Industrial IoT platform is a business for business (B4B) approach designed to assist pump OEMs as they transform from a traditional manual service model to a digital solution. Compared to in-house digital platform development, which can take an OEM many years to develop, the Preddio platform can be tailored to meet the needs of OEMs in a few days and at a fraction of the cost.
The great thing about the Preddio platform is that pump problems like the ones described above can be simultaneously analyzed by a team of experts across a wide range of disciplines. Within a few hours of installing Preddio sensors, alarms can be generated, and spikes on pump data can be made visible. OEMs, service providers, and end-users can look at the data together to head off catastrophic failures. This can even be done through the cloud platform connecting experts from thousands of miles away to address pump problems.
Pump manufacturers interested in improving their pump products’ strategic value while increasing their service opportunities can find out more by contacting Preddio today.