Trend Report: Pumps & Compressors
Modular System Designs Pose a Challenge for Component Suppliers
Erosion corrosion is the removal of material due to mechanical stress (erosion) and corrosion. Destruction of protective layers as a result of erosion exposes the surface to corrosion. The company SIC cast Mineralguß describes this phenomenon as a combination of chemical and abrasive attack by media which contain solids as well as acids and alkalies. The manufacturer recommends a material made of 82 % SiC and 18 % epoxy resin.
The material is (nearly) as hard as diamond, not susceptible to corrosion, anti-magnetic and extremely resistant to abrasion, temperature and shock. The parts are molded in a mineral casting process and then heat hardened to give them their strength and endurance. The fits are subsequently machined with diamond tools.
Given its characteristics profile, the high-resistance cast material is suitable for all wetted pump parts (casings, impellers, wear plates, casing covers) which are exposed to extreme stress caused by corrosive and abrasive media.
Düchting Pumpen and Klaus Union are well-known users. If the material is used for re-engineering (coating) of parts like impellers, the cost is only 1/3 that of a new part.
When will 3D printing revolutionize the spare parts market? It will probably happen sooner rather than later due to the increasing popularity of metal printing. A laser selectively melts areas in a fine layer of pulverized metal. These areas harden following contact with the laser. Then another layer of metal powder is deposited which again is melted with the laser and subsequently hardens. The process is repeated until the hardened areas have the desired shape.
So why should it not be possible to use this technique, for example, to revitalize the impeller in a centrifugal pump or piston pump nozzles? The "cloud producing" concept developed by agricultural and construction machinery manufacturers Caterpillar and John Deere indicate a possible future direction of 3D technology. The idea is to store spare parts data in a database which any authorized user anywhere in the world can access. If a service center anywhere around the globe needs a spare part, it can download the data and print the part locally.
KSB sees itself as the industry leader in 3D printing and expects to achieve massive cost savings which however are not possible to quantify at this point in time. This will only be possible after the products have been re-designed. When that happens, material consumption will decrease and fewer steps will be needed in the production process. At the present time, the company uses 3D printing mainly at the research stage but some 3D printing takes place in production. This is the case when spare parts are needed with extremely short turnaround times or in small quantities.
Service is becoming an increasingly important factor in the machinery manufacturing industry. Many pump suppliers clearly intend to expand their service and spare parts business. Large manufacturers generate 30-35 % of turnover in the aftersales market.
Safety & Security: Critical Infrastructure?
Despite all of the euphoria about the digital transformation, security must not be neglected. A hacker recently gained access to the system which controls the waste water pumps in a large German city. Fortunately, the control system crashed.
BASF is convinced that the risk posed by cyber criminals is manageable. The system controller is not connected to the Internet. In 2015 together with Bayer, VW and Allianz, BASF founded DCSO (German Cyber Security Organization) in Berlin to protect against Internet crime. The organization is a repository of information, knowledge, best practice and operational effectiveness at top German companies and makes this expertise available to members.
Namur has introduced the NOA (Namur Open Architecture) concept. Its purpose is to provide secure access to data for monitoring solutions without putting equipment availability and safety at risk. The idea is to export data from the current core automation world via open interfaces such as OPC UA to the systems world for monitoring and optimization tasks and leave core automation largely unchanged. Alternatively, existing field devices can be accessed directly using a second communications channel.
The need for flexibility, a higher level of product customization and faster product introduction continues to grow in the process industry. How pump and vacuum equipment manufacturers reconcile all of these demands remains at least for the time being something which the companies have to deal with on their own. Exotic solutions are probably not the best choice. Users in the chemical industry and particularly in the pharmaceutical industry tend to make conservative choices when they select equipment that plays a central role in the process such as pumps and compressors. A proven track record is more assuring than abstract claims.
The Future of Industrial Pumps at a Glance
- Products without sensors and connectivity will not be a significant factor in the future world of Industry 4.0.
- Conventional products will be supplanted by products with sensors and on-board monitoring capability. Cyber-physical systems (CPS) will become the standard.
- Manufacturers and service providers will set up platforms (cloud) for CPS communication via gateways.
- The challenge is to filter out relevant data streams and develop modules which generate real customer benefit.
- CPS, the cloud and data analysis will provide the basis for tailored services.