Pump Makers Unite to Sell a Message: Energy Efficiency for a Stronger Economy

Bill Adams, director of new business development for Flowserve Corp., and Bill Taylor acting president of ITT Industrial Products Group (Goulds Pumps), are two of a kind.

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Bill Adams
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By Carlos David Mogollóllon, Managing Editor

Bill Adams, director of new business development for Flowserve Corp., and Bill Taylor acting president of ITT Industrial Products Group (Goulds Pumps), are two of a kind. They finish each other’s sentences. So, it’s good they're reading from the same play book.

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Bill Taylor
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The pair chair the Market TransformationCommittee of the Hydraulic Institute (HI), a trade association for pump manufacturers and suppliers that develops pump standards, including test standards used for over 80% of tests performed on industrial and commercial pumps in the United States. The committee’s main mission is promotion of a program launched last fall called Pump Systems Matter (PSM). PSM is an educational outreach program to raise awareness of energy-saving opportunities through training, technical tools and best practices regarding efficient pumping systems.

Life Cycle Costs

“In North America, pumps consume a substantial percentage (11%) of the electrical energy that's produced in this country,” says Taylor. “There are a number of issues including potential government regulation that pump manufacturers are trying to address in educating the user markets - and certainly the water and wastewater market is a significant piece - on pumping system efficiency and the need to consider the pump as a component and how it interacts with the pumping system and how to optimize that system not only for energy consumption reduction but also in terms of reliability. Because, as it turns out, if you optimize a pumping system through minimizing energy consumption, there’s a corollary to extending the service life of the pump and the service life of the system. So, minimizing energy equates to improved reliability.”

The PSM program ties into HI’s website (www.pumps.org), its new elearning website (www.pumplearning.org), related HI publications such as its Pump Life Cycle Costs guide developed with HI’s European counterpart, Europump, and other tools available online such as the Pump System Assessment Tool (PSAT), a free software program to help assess pump system energy efficiency developed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy and available free (see: www.oit.doe.gov/bestpractices/steam/ psat.html). All are designed to assist in choosing, sizing, maintaining and optimizing pump system use.

As such, Adams sees work with the DOE as integral to the PSM mission.

“Right now, in the United States, we consume 35% more energy than we produce,” he says. “We consume three times more energy than the second leading country on the planet. That’s China. And if we don’t do something about the supply and demand of energy, it’s going to keep escalating prices higher and higher and industry in the United States is going to have a more difficult time competing on a worldwide basis. So, what can we do as a pumping industry? Well, the government has helped us. It’s identified pumping systems as the No. 1 opportunity for saving energy in process plants today. And process plants consume about a third of our nation’s energy. So, if we go to work on pumping systems, we can do a lot to reduce the operating costs of all industries, from water, wastewater, chemical processing, refineries, everything that uses pumps.”

Labels vs. Best Practices

While Europump and HI work closely together on a number of issues, Adams and Taylor note the two differ on how to promote pump energy-efficiency. Europump recently announced an energy labeling scheme for the most efficient pump systems there. Taylor says HI avoided that approach because, while labels such as the Energy Star program for household appliances may be popular, they don’t necessarily apply to how pumps are used. Adams says that’s because the type of pump chosen, how it’s sized for a particular job and/or how it’s operated and maintained are just as crucial to its efficiency as the mechanics of the pump itself. That’s why HI focuses on best practices for pump selection and system design.

It’s not lost on Adams and Taylor that Pump Systems Matter is the first industry-led U.S. market transformation initiative. It began in late 2003 as the rapid loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas filled headlines. It’s their belief that if the Pump Systems Matter program works half as well as they’d like, then U.S. companies will be better positioned to compete with low-cost producers overseas that may enjoy sharply lower labor costs.

While more efficient pump systems may cost more, Adams said it's not about buying "cheap" - it's about buying a system that's going to do the job effectively, last longer and be more energy efficient in the long run. That means focusing on "life cycle" costs rather than always on the initial capital investment.

"Just for an example," says Taylor, "a major process company has a billion-dollar worldwide energy budget. Let's say 60% of that is for electric power. This would be a pump-intensive industry. If you can, by optimizing your systems, reduce electric power consumption by just 3% or 4% - that's a lot of money going directly to the bottom line."

In the end, will that bring manufacturing back to the United States? At a time when the dollar's value has dropped and petroleum prices are at record levels, it can't hurt.

Making the Transformation

Taylor and Adams say they're going to be spending a lot of time on the road over the next several months to give Pump Systems Matter wings. HI's goal is to raise $500,000 a year to promote the educational program. They'll be attending industry events, government events and non-governmental organization events. NGOs focused on energy efficiency will be a critical part of the campaign, Taylor says.

Adams adds that he's encouraged by the level of support so far. At HI's annual conference in Tucson, Ariz., in February, the committee had signed up about 15 charter partners for this effort. By mid-March at the National Market Transformation Symposium in Washington, D.C., that figure had more than doubled to 33.

The symposium was sponsored by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) and American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy's (ACEEE), the latter of which will host the PSM steering committee's first organization meeting July 19-22 at its Summer Study Program in West Point, NY (see: www.aceee.org/pubsmeetings/).

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