Choosing an industrial pump is not as easy as it might first sound.
All pumps have the same basic function – converting motor energy into hydraulic energy to help move different materials (such as water, chemicals, and other fluids.) However, based on the fluid properties, pump specs, and the environment in which the unit will be installed, some pumps might be a better fit for you than others.
To make things easier, we’ve compiled a list of the main factors you need to consider when choosing a pump and the most common pump types and their uses (including how to select a heat pump and how to make the right cooling tower pump selection.)
Let’s get started!
Industrial Pump Selection: Main Factors That Will Help You Decide
Here are the main factors involved in the industrial pump selection process:
When choosing a pump, you need to consider the layout and environment of the plant where the unit will be installed. Your considerations should include:
- Will the pump be submerged?
- Will it be exposed to extreme temperatures?
- Will it operate in a hazardous environment?
- Does your industry have strict environmental regulations?
Here are some factors you should consider:
Think about whether the pump will operate in a highly humid, corrosive, or hazardous atmosphere.
Based on the atmosphere characteristics, you might need to consider getting an industrial pump with a chemical duty motor (for hazardous atmospheres), tropical duty motor (for humid atmospheres) or wash down duty motor (for wash down areas.)
Based on the temperature, you need to consider the pump motor’s maximum temperature constraints and construction materials.
If you’re planning to install the pump at a higher altitude, this can affect the pump flow performance due to the lower air pressure, motor fan cooling, and net positive suction head (NPSH.) The lower pressure and NPSH can cause cavitation (when the fluid inside the pump is close to boiling temperature).
Power source availability
Consider the electrical source voltage and whether that can sustain your pump’s operation (especially if you’re considering a more powerful pump). Special motors can also be powered by DC batteries, compressed air, or pressurized hydraulic oil.
It’s vital to assess all technical characteristics of the fluid that the pump will be handling on a regular basis. This includes:
The higher the fluid’s viscosity, the more resistant it is to the flow in the pump. This is one of the leading factors that will determine the type of pump you’ll need to install. For example, low viscosity fluids (like water and oil) can be managed by a centrifugal pump, but higher viscosity fluids like paints and greases are handled better by positive-displacement pumps.
The fluid resistance can also be affected by its concentration and particle size.
If you’re operating highly flammable fluids, consider getting an industrial pump made of stainless steel.
The fluid’s specific gravity is also of vital importance for the pump performance. Water has a specific gravity of 1.0, while some chemicals and solvents might have lower or higher gravity.
Pump System Properties
When you know all the environment and fluid specifics, you need to determine what pump specs will best fit them. These include:
Flow rate and pressure
The flow rate indicates the pump capacity (the volume of liquid pumped at a given time.) The pressure can be calculated using the pipe size and friction loss. These two factors are in direct correlation to the pump size.
There are a few different types of heads:
- Suction head (when liquid supply is above the pump).
- System head (indicates the pressure needed to sustain the liquid flow through the pumping system).
- Discharge head (indicates the maximum height reached by the pipe from the discharge port).
This indicates that the liquid supply happens below the pump.
Net positive suction head (NPSH)
NPSH shows the pressure at the pump’s suction port. This can be broken down into two variables: NPSH Available (the absolute pressure) and NPSH Required (the minimum pressure that prevents cavitation).
Industrial pumps are commonly made from stainless steel, iron, or brass. You should choose the construction material based on the type of fluid the pump will be in contact with.
Understand whether you will be able to take full charge of the pump’s maintenance or if you’ll need expert help. Also, consider whether you are ready to cover any repair costs or prefer to buy a new pump in case of breakage.
Ensure the pump has good energy efficiency rates to reduce energy costs.
Ease of use
Find out how easy it is to install the pump and operate it on a daily basis. Will your employees need special training? Will you need to do regular maintenance checks, and can you do them internally or will you need to hire a specialist?
Based on the motor type, there are three different pump types:
- Electric pumps: This type of pump is driven by an electric motor.
- Autonomous pumps: These pumps have their own combustion engine. They’re typically used in the agriculture and firefighting sectors.
- Pneumatic pumps: These pumps operate with compressed air.
Industrial pumps are usually operated with the help of advanced software. So, when choosing a pump, ensure that the metering equipment and its software are easy to use and run smoothly since this can affect your daily workflow tremendously.
Next, let’s look at a few possible pump options and their use cases.
7 Pump Types and Their Uses
Here are some of the most commonly used pump types:
Centrifugal pumps can pump large volumes of low viscosity fluids at a constant flow. They offer good efficiency and are ideal for wastewater and petrochemical applications.
Cooling Tower Pump
When it comes to cooling tower pump selection, you should be aware that this pump is primarily used to remove heat from air-conditioning systems.
Cooling tower pumps are used when the heat from the air-conditioning cannot be repurposed in any other way. If you are opting for this pump type, make sure to check what the requirements for the cooling system are first since this can limit the size of the cooling tower pump as well.
Heat pumps are used to recover, increase, and repurpose heat streams from different operating systems. But how to select a heat pump that will suit your needs? There are three main heat pump types:
- Air-source heat pumps: These heat pumps have a simple design and high-efficiency levels.
- Ground-source heat pumps: Ground-source pumps have lower carbon emissions than air-sourced pumps, but they have a more complex installation process.
- Water-source heat pumps: The biggest benefit of these pumps is they can also use the water source as a coolant.
Diaphragm pumps are a good solution if you need to move dense liquids. They can also run dry and do not require lubrication. Before installing a diaphragm pump, you need to check your pneumatic network capacity. Since this pump type is pneumatically operated it is primarily used in the chemical, mining, and food industries.
These self-priming pumps ensure precise fluid dosage and a sterile environment, so the liquid is safe from contamination.
As such, peristaltic pumps are ideal for moving clean fluids and are used mainly in the medical and chemical industries. However, keep in mind that these pumps have a lower flow rate and require regular maintenance.
Piston pumps are ideal for medium-flow and high-pressure operations that involve low viscosity fluids. However, the presence of any particles might disrupt their proper operation. Such pumps are mostly used in the oil industry.
This pump type is used to transport highly viscous clean liquids at high pressure. Gear pumps are compact, reliable, and offer a simple design and low-noise operation levels. They’re mainly used in the plastics processing industry.
Choose the Best Industrial Pump Type for Your Needs
Choosing the right pump type can affect your industrial plant efficiency and costs. To choose the right kind of pump, you need to be aware of all the main factors that play a crucial role in your day-to-day operations.
Additionally, once you’ve settled on the pump make and model and have installed the unit, you need to ensure the pump is regularly maintained to prevent any excessive wear and tear or breakage.
If you need reliable industrial pump repair experts, Houston Pump & Gear is here to help. We can answer all your industrial pump repair questions. We also offer all types of pump service, including centrifugal, piston, gear, and cooling tower repair.
We also help with gearbox repair and provide services like helical gear cutting and complete gearbox overhaul. Just give us a call to get a custom quote today.