Intelligent Pumps

Mahathi Parashuram
Mahathi Parashuram, Regional Head - Public Affairs, Communications & Relations Grundfos Asia Pacific Region, discusses with Maria R, the technological advancements and intelligent solutions being offered by the company to meet demand for conservation of water bodies and wastewater management

What are the biggest changes being seen in the water utility industry and other pumping applications in the last one decade in India?

The single biggest factor impacting the water industry is the climate change and its impact on water resources and water management. India, along with the rest of the world, is observing extreme contrasts in weather patterns, from depleting water resources to extreme rains and flash floods. Water management bodies, particularly utilities, are grappling on how to handle such events and lessen their impact on local communities. In such a scenario, two critical trends are being observed: Water Recovery and Smart Water Distribution. Water management bodies are looking to technology for conservation of water bodies and recovery of wastewater. Many of these solutions are coming from leading organizations operating in the water sector, including pumping solution providers like Grundfos.

Another major issue that the water utility industry is facing is the growing cost and unavailability of energy. The simple solution here is to use energy-efficient technology to move, recycle and use water. Growing energy costs have led to a growth in demand of energy-efficient smart solutions that provide long-term savings in operating costs. The attractiveness of low-cost one-dimensional systems that incur high operating and maintenance costs is fast declining. Today, we see customers who appreciate energy-efficient motors and equipment to reduce power costs. In that respect, Grundfos’ water solutions are highly energy-efficient and can also be powered by renewable energy.

What technology is driving the pumps industry?

Digital transformation has been one of the most exciting disruptions we have seen in the industry. Industrial digitalization is transforming the way manufacturers can capture, analyze and utilize data to improve business performance as well as save on costs. Grundfos was the first company to introduce electronics in pumps. In the 1980’s, before the boom of IoT, one of our early technologies had made it possible for our pumps to send messages directly to the pump owners regarding all the information about the status of the pumps etc.

Over the years, we have developed numerous intelligent pumping solutions that are being used world over. They include the Grundfos iSolutions intelligent pump systems that utilize cloud connectivity, digital services, real-time monitoring, remote control, fault prediction, and system optimization.

Another recent innovative solution is our SmArtServ app for reducing the reaction time and providing service support for any Grundfos product. Through this app, one can locate the nearest service provider, fill in details of the complaint/request, attach a picture of the pump/system, raise a service request, and track the progress. The app also enables one to escalate if the customer is not satisfied with the response, archive service reports, and get quotations for spare parts.

Smart Dosing Pumps
What are Grundfos’ new innovative and intelligent solutions, especially for developing green buildings and smart cities?

Green Buildings and Smart Cities will soon become the norm and not the exception. Both are critical to sustainable growth of our economy as they are designed and built to utilize the resources sustainably. With the increasing awareness about the mismanagement of our resources, individuals and governments are looking out for sustainable and future-ready solutions. Grundfos’ water and wastewater management systems provide intelligent and energy-efficient solutions for hotels, hospitals, office towers, airports and commercial buildings.

With Grundfos iSolutions you will get intelligent pumps, cloud connectivity and digital services all working seamlessly together to reach a new level of performance with high-energy efficiency, reduced complexity, and low life-cycle costs. Even our headquarters in Chennai is India’s first gold-rated green building under LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) which was later elevated to LEED EB Platinum Certification by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) in 2013.

With the focus of the Government on the Smart Cities initiative, the city municipalities now require smart solutions to tackle the inherent problems of water losses, leakage, distribution etc. Grundfos’ solutions such as Demand Driven Distribution system (DDD), is a unique pumping solution where the supply of water is programmed according to the demand of the consumer. This system can automatically monitor grid use patterns with remote sensors and adjust the water pressure accordingly. This reduces both water and electricity consumption by up to 20%, and the water pipes will last longer because they are less likely to crack under varying pressure.

Another interesting offering from Grundfos is the Remote Management system, an internet-based, secure and technologically advanced system for monitoring and managing pump installations in commercial buildings, water supply networks, wastewater plants, etc. Through this system, pumps in an entire commercial building’s water and wastewater treatment plants can be remotely monitored from a control room with minimal human intervention.

Under the iSolutions range, we have Grundfos’ SMART Digital XL DDA and DDE dosing pumps that can dose very accurately, thereby, saving expensive solutions and chemicals in industries like food, pharma etc. It also improves the quality of the product due to consistency of dosing. SMART Digital XL DDA and DDE are all based on tried and tested Digital Dosing™ technology from Grundfos. They offer powerful, variable-speed motors, a universal power supply, and diaphragms that meet the most demanding requirements for chemical resistance and durability.

IoT and digitization go a long way in not only preventing downtimes (via predictive analysis and remote monitoring) but also in extracting more value via increased efficiency and smart solutions. Grundfos has developed numerous intelligent pumping solutions that ensures that all the pumps, drives, control and protection units, measurement and communication units work together as one complete, energy-efficient and connected system which can adapt itself to work based on the usage patterns

What is Grundfos’ investment in R&D?

Grundfos firmly believes in continuously innovating and being future ready. This can be seen in every single solution of ours. These solutions are not only capable of resolving the issues at hand but are also built in such a way where they have the capacity to adapt to future requirements. Each year Grundfos invests around 5 percent of our total revenue back into the R&D.

Water treatment is the biggest opportunity the world over for pump manufacturers. How well is Grundfos positioned to meet demand?

Water treatment both at a utility and industries perspective is a big opportunity. How they treat and reuse this water will be key in not only saving water but also costs. Water treatment is technology-driven and heavily regulated, and customers (water utilities & industries) need a partner who offers pump, dosing and disinfection solutions for the entire water treatment process. Grundfos offers a range of high-quality products and unique expertise for packaged solutions or individual pumping products for each stage of the water treatment cycle.

Please tell us about your new manufacturing plant in Ahmedabad.

Setting up another production unit in Dantali was a strategic move. Envisioned on the ‘Make in India’ model, the state-of-the-art facility has been developed based on Grundfos’ designs and specifications. Its central location has helped Grundfos India connect to its customers in Gujarat and Maharashtra which are two of the biggest markets for the company in the western region. The facility has also helped Grundfos India strengthen its network in the western and northern regions.

With the reduced transportation time and distance, Grundfos has been able to reduce its CO2 footprint significantly and its impact on the environment. Also, this facility exports stainless steel components to Grundfos’ global facilities in Europe, Americas, and China.

Hydro MPC
Which segment is Grundfos major revenue generator and what are your strategies to increase market share?

Typically, the industrial segment, followed by the commercial, are the revenue drivers for Grundfos India, as residential applications are not very technology intensive and the requirements are small scale in nature. The company constantly evaluates the market forces and evolution in customer needs to adapt its value proposition to the market. Another element of Grundfos’ strategy is catering to the needs of the local market. There is no one size fits all solution for the market and the company ensures that it understands the unique goals and constraints of its customers. This customer-centric approach has helped Grundfos strengthen its market position.

What are Grundfos initiatives to bring more awareness on water and energy conservation?

People are becoming more conscious of their impact and footprint on the environment. They also have started realizing that being sustainable has cost benefits too. For example, most people now look at the Life Cycle Cost while buying key appliances. This basically refers to the total cost of ownership of any product. In most cases, the initial cost of the products is only 5 percent of the Life Cycle Cost; 85% is the cost of the energy it consumes and the remaining 10% accounts for maintenance costs.

Energy efficiency and sustainability are the key deciding factors for any purchase. For example, if you look at the energy consumed by pumps world over, it is about 10% of the world’s energy. In the earlier days, people would not bother themselves regarding this, but many of them are now purchasing energy-efficient pumps, which help them save 4-5 percent of energy.

Also, a lot of the pumps waste energy due to incorrect sizing, lack of intelligent control, operation at an inefficient duty point or outdated technology. A Grundfos Pump Audit evaluates pump efficiency and the potential for saving energy at site. A Pump Audit results in an overview of pump performance and suggestions for improvement. Pump audits have produced tangible results for all types of customers. Many types of industries and water supply companies have cut their energy consumption by 40-60%. The new pumps, therefore, pay for themselves in a short time. Since 2011, Grundfos India has conducted 2304 pump audits on 16,741 pumps. This has resulted in identifying power savings of 43,619 KW which is equivalent to reductions of around 1,88,134 tons/year of CO2 emissions.

What, according to you, are the prevailing issues in the pumps industry that need to be addressed?

The pump industry is currently facing issues due to the fluctuating dollar rate and increase in cost of raw materials due to this. We at Grundfos hope to see these fluctuations steadying soon.

Secondly, many pump manufacturers, unfortunately, do not pay much attention to the quality of the materials that they use in their products. These materials are not only of an inferior quality, but also potentially harmful for the environment. In many cases, these materials leech into the ground and over time, they contaminate the water table. In a water scarce world, these types of contaminations need to stop. This can be done if the government enforces stricter punishments for individuals flouting these rules.

Grundfos, for instance, uses magnetic materials to produce energy-efficient products. Magnetic materials that contain rare earth elements, are expensive to produce and are obtained through a complicated solvent extraction refining process that involves a lot of chemicals and tailings handling. In an effort to reduce its environmental footprint, Grundfos Denmark began using pre-consumed magnetic materials from production scrap.

The company conducted tests to evaluate the product performance and material stability when mixing re-use materials with virgin materials in varying proportions. The tests consistently showed that magnetic materials could be reused, without any degradation and compromise to product quality. The initiative was a stepping stone to align the circular economy strategies for Grundfos products and allowed Grundfos to gain better insights towards the processing aspects of magnetic materials. On top of that, the initiative will save over 3425 m3 of water, 1200 kg of waste, 2 375 000 kWh of energy and 51 000 kg of CO2 on a yearly basis. The project will pave the way for larger sustainable solutions in future.

NBM&CW November 2018

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