Pumps in the Industry 4.0 Era Pumpfluencer in the Internet of Things: What Can Pump 4.0 Do?

From Dominik Stephan*

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Maintenance and remote services reach the pump world - Above all, a pump must deliver reliably - right? More and more manufacturers are drilling their flow machines with additional digital benefits. But what do operators gain when the pump goes to the cloud?

When the data flows: What can the digital features of pump manufacturers and automation companies do?
When the data flows: What can the digital features of pump manufacturers and automation companies do?
(Source: ©Studio Harmony; gaihong - stock.adobe.com)

It took a long time: A decade after the Industry 4.0 vision was presented at the Hanover Fair in Germany networking has reached the world of fluidics. In the future, pumps should not only be efficient and powerful but also communicate with the control system and other field devices as part of smart production. In this way, developers hope, even tried-and-tested workhorses of the process industry could be given added digital value - an opportunity for manufacturers to position themselves among the competition. Only the operators are skeptical: What is the point of the digitized plant if not every pump is speed-controlled?

Even the smartest pump needs to be serviced and maintained. If operating parameters and pump characteristics could be compared on the basis of a standardized data exchange, anomalies and failure risks could be detected at an early stage. Infraserv Wiesbaden, for example, relies on KSB Guard, a cloud-based condition monitoring system from the manufacturer KSB. The system uses a sensor on the pump bearing to measure data such as the vibrations that occur and sends it to the manufacturer's cloud via a gateway.

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In this way, the operator can keep an eye on the condition of his pumps at all times and plan maintenance work on the basis of specific measurement data. The app can also be used to document interventions and maintenance work.

When the sensor is connected to the cloud...

Grundfos goes one step further with the GRM remote management system: It can be used not only to monitor pumps, but also to change setpoints or switch them on and off and optimize service as well as maintenance work. GRM is not the only smart technology from the Danish company: the Grundfos app ‘Chempairing Suite’, for example, offers a remote access tool for metering pumps in chemical distribution.

The fill level can also be recorded and monitored via a database stored in the cloud and the actual dosing quantity. The technical basis for this is the ‘Flow Control’ dosing monitoring system integrated in the pump, which identifies classic dosing errors (defective valves, air bubbles, cavitation, overpressure) and records the real dosing volume flow.

Timmer also relies on the combination of sensor and cloud computing with Timiot, which is designed to enable location-independent real-time monitoring and predictive maintenance for pneumatic double diaphragm pumps. Behind it is the combination of an intelligent sensor for data acquisition and the connection of the pump to the manufacturer's cloud platform. Of course, Timmer points out, the pump must have a smart sensor. However, this has been standard in the Neuenkirchen-based double diaphragm pump range since May of this year.

How the pump gets onto the Internet of Things

It's different with Grundfos or Renner: Both the GRM sensor and Renner's RPR 4.0 can easily bring existing pumps onto the Internet of Things. Renner uses artificial intelligence to familiarize the sensor with operating states in a learning curve. In this way, the developers explain, the device can learn over the course of its service life and better recognize critical operating states.

Seepex also wants to make its progressive cavity pumps digitally fit and is bundling a number of corresponding additional features in the modular Digital Solutions. These include the Seepex Connected Services cloud platform, which bundles pump data and enables analysis. Also included: various monitoring options that help detect possible damage at an early stage. Pump monitoring and data recording is carried out via the Pump Monitor, while service apps provide further assistance in the worst-case scenario.

Maintenance and remote services for pumps and co.

Even before commissioning: Manufacturers such as Brinkmann Pumps, Grundfos and Seepex have been offering help with installation and commissioning since 2020. Here, experienced technicians support the user via telephone, remote maintenance or software conference tools. Seepex's advanced analytics services can even help uncover complex relationships and patterns using user-specific calculations.

The new AR (Augmented Reality) Remote Support offers additional support in real time. The ‘AR Assistant’ app developed by Vodafone is used here, which allows users to post live images from production.

If you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket, you might have a hard time with a manufacturer cloud. Fortunately, however, automation companies have also discovered this topic for themselves: Companies such as Phoenix Contact have a web-based condition monitoring system with simple visualization in their product range. In addition to maintenance, this is also intended to detect unused potential during operation and help determine the optimum system efficiency. Continuous monitoring of vibrations allows turbulence and cavitation to be detected and avoided at an early stage. The fact that the system uses the manufacturer's Proficloud is certainly helpful here.

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* The author is an editor of PROCESS.