At a time when water companies are under increasing pressure to improve services, against a background of increasing operating costs and rising energy bills, extreme weather events and rising ecological expectations, the optimising of the performance of assets is critical.
One area that has been identified as not only a major cost and one that is disruptive to routine operations is ‘ragging’ – a long standing pumping problem suffered by water companies, where pumps are partially or fully blocked in waste water systems. Manual Clearing is a costly and unpleasant task requiring a maintenance team and frequently a crane. Downtime may extend to several days during which time the back-up systems are under additional pressure. A total system failure can result in effluent leakage with implications for the environment, human health, clean-up costs and breaches of legislation.
Solutions claiming to overcome this serious problem have been introduced, some more effective than others. One company, Control Techniques, offers a proven complete package that is believed to be the most technically complete and cost-effective on the market.
Control Techniques Intelligent Pump Control (IPC) system, is the comprehensive answer to ragging, delivering measurable improvements in pump reliability, uptime and performance. As well as saving thousands of £’s in operating expenses IPC system installations have also produced energy savings of up to 15% due to the improved running efficiency of the pumps.
“IPC is unique in that it measures ‘live’ active current in real time, on-board the drive” explains Control Techniques’ UK Water Manager, Brian Redpath. Unlike competitors’ systems that measure the motor’s nominal current – a measurement that can give an error of up to 30-40% for required effective monitoring of impending ragging. “Our system measures Active Current (Impeller true torque component) every millisecond. As soon as IPC sees a change in the active current set profile, an automated cleansing cycle is instantly initiated to clear the pump impeller.
Over three years Control Techniques has built up a successful base of IPC applications with several of the Major UK water companies as well as installations in Ireland.
Control Techniques’ IPC system accurately monitors pump performance, including flow and pump speed where appropriate. The live data is compared to measured values taken during commissioning, plus expected pump profile characteristics. Any ‘out of profile’ performance is instantly detected, giving an early warning indication of ragging. Should the pump ‘out of profile’ performance extend the profile settings, an automatic drive based cleansing cycle is initiated to clear the pump impeller.
The system is totally embedded within the drive itself, eliminating the need for external Programming (PLC) , monitoring or control equipment. Control Techniques have developed two levels of IPC functionality; IPC Lite and IPC Pro, to meet the needs of the broadest range of pump applications;
Provides ragging detection and cleansing at low cost on pumps rated at less than 132kW.
Full featured multi-pump control for pumps rated to 1.9MW, with anti-ragging programme, duty control, fault status and back-up, ‘dry run’ protection and cleansing routines. Compatible with telemetry systems, plus a watchdog alarm feature.
IPC Pro – Options:
HMI - providing customers with a clear window on the pumping control operations and also instant data logging facility for pump efficiency and energy usage.
Ethernet TCP/IP based solutions for remote monitoring and operation.
Drive based remote telemetry station capability.
“Every site is different,” adds Brian Redpath, “IPC is totally flexible, able to be configured to meet customer’s applications. It works equally effectively on wet and dry well installations and also treatment works pumps”.
As well as detecting and preventing ragging, IPC systems also provide several other intelligent performance optimisation functions, such as surge prevention to protect rising mains, and wear monitoring of pumps. The system also detects low flow (dry run conditions).
In the unusual event of a major blockage that cannot be automatically cleared, successive cleansing routines are prevented to protect the pump by performing a system lock-out and raising a telemetry alarm.”