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ACHEMA Trend Report: Fluid Flow Machinery 4.0: a two-way conversation (1/2)

| By Chemical Engineering

  • Stricter Ecodesign regulations come into force in 2015
  • Automation and networking boost productivity
  • Distributed intelligence at the field level provides greater versatility

With 1,000 exhibitors, ACHEMA is the world’s largest show for pumps, valves and compressors.

The leading pump manufacturer only has a 9% share of the total worldwide pump market which is estimated to be around 30 billion euros. That shows how fragmented the market is. The same is true for the compressors, controls and valves market. The companies that manufacture these products are traditionally the largest exhibitor group at ACHEMA, and this year they have booked 34,000 m² of exhibition space to showcase the potential for innovation of the “Mittelstand” (mid-sized companies). Optimized system solutions and efficiency, intelligent control  concepts, reduced emissions and constructions with regard to the environment are key. Automation and networking create new opportunities to increase productivity: Flow machinery 4.0 is ready to roll.

Industrial producers have to constantly find new ways of boosting process efficiency.  To effectively manage cost (energy and labor costs), quality (reproducibility) and reliability (occupational safety and environmental protection), companies need to continually increase the level of automation. ZVEI (German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association) reported that sales by German process automation suppliers were up 6-7% in 2014, and growth is expected to continue in 2015. AMA (Association for Sensors and Measurement) has also reported increased order intake.

This general trend in process engineering also has an impact on pumps, compressors, controls and valves. Sufficient versatility must be designed into these products to ensure that they fit seamlessly into the overall automation strategy, and the communication capabilities need to be enhanced.

To an increasing extent, manufacturers are responding by offering system solutions or package units which go beyond the basic functionality of a “process pump”, “compressor” or “control valve”. While all relevant technology is connected to centralized process control systems, components are fitted with distributed intelligence. This reduces the load on the central control systems and makes it easier to adapt the equipment when changes are made to the process. Why is this type of versatility important? At the 2014 Namur General Meeting, the individualization of production, shorter product lifecycles, fluctuating sales and faster time to market were cited as reasons.

Intelligent, distributed, network-enabled

Industry observers expect that substantially more intelligence and functionality will be migrated to the field level. Modular design is an additional factor. Subsystems are designed to fit together like Lego bricks. Components can be combined in different ways to meet application needs, and it should be possible to swap them in no more than an hour. Versatility must be built into the equipment to allow rapid adaptation and integration into a variety of systems.
To provide connectivity to higher-level control systems, manufacturers must design enhanced communications functionality into the equipment (based on real time enabled Ethernet bus technology, etc.). In addition, on-board microprocessors and stored algorithms must be capable of autonomously executing a defined set of functions. Bidirectional data transfer must be supported. The Industry 4.0 concept is built around the flow of information from high-level control systems to field devices and between different devices (for example between a pump and a valve or a compressor and a valve).
There is another argument in favor of this approach. Equipment designed for and operated in a system context is generally more reliable and tends to be less fault-prone. This is a very significant consideration in the international OEM business. Every service call-out to repair a fault at a remote location reduces the operating margin.

Brussels continues to raise the bar

Energy efficiency is a “sleeping giant”. The goal of NAPE (German National Energy Efficiency Action Plan) that was passed in December 2014 is to wake up the giant and make it the second strategic element in the energy transition roadmap. Funding is made available for certain energy efficiency measures. NAPE places the emphasis on consultancy services and networking. The government has largely avoided the regulatory route.

The Ecodesign Directive is a different matter. At the European level, the legislative process got underway in 2005 to address the issue of electricity consumption (initially EuP = Energy using Products, currently ErP = Energy related Products) and CO2 emission.

The directive for electric motors (EC640/2009) plays a key role in eco-friendly design. It applies to pumps as well as compressors. It effectively forces manufacturers to concentrate on high-efficiency motors and frequency converters for speed control. Later on and also as a result of EU regulations, increased emphasis was placed on the hydraulic efficiency of pumps.

Brussels introduces stricter regulations in 2015:

  • From January 1st 2015 all electric motors rated between 7.5 kW and 375 kW must either be IE3-compliant or IE2-compliant with a frequency converter. Two years later (2017) all electric motors rated between 0.75 kW and 375 kW must either be IE3-compliant or IE2-compliant with a frequency converter.
  • From January 1st 2015, certain glanded water pumps are required to have higher hydraulic efficiency (Minimum Efficiency Index MEI ≥ 0.4).
  • From August 1st 2015 glandless standalone heating and cooling system circulation pumps must have an Energy Efficiency Index not greater than 0.23 and the same applies to circulation pumps which are integrated into heating systems. By January 1st, 2020 circulation pumps integrated into existing products must also have an Energy Efficiency Index not greater than 0.23. It will then no longer be possible to replace heating circulation pumps integrated into products if the pumps were placed on the market prior to August 1st, 2015.

With the directive for electric motors which went into effect in January 2015, the EU has placed greater emphasis on the system approach. ZVEI expects that this will stimulate growth in the electric drive technology market.
Brussels has now become a “natural” development partner for manufacturers. Suppliers in the premium segment are by no means dissatisfied with Brussels. Technical complexity gives manufacturers a major market entry barrier to ward off potential competitors. Advances in technology designed to increase energy efficiency are difficult to imitate, and that creates an additional impediment to product piracy.

Energie efficiency : Regard the larger picture

Compared to standard motors, high-efficiency motors are 2% – 7% more efficient depending on the power rating. When the standard principles of good pump design are applied which is always recommended (working point close to the optimal pump operating point, hydraulically correct pipe dimensioning) and a well thought out system approach is taken including speed management, another zero can be added to those figures and energy consumption can be reduced by 30% – 70%. That puts things on an entirely different plane. Frequency converters have real advantages but they can also cause problems when they compensate for (neutralize) wear-related performance degradation. It often does not become apparent that this is happening until wear reaches the point where it causes failure.
There can be no doubt that pump energy efficiency is an important issue. However the significance can be relative depending on the particular industry and application. Energy consumption could well account for 90% of the lifecycle costs for a well pump used in the continuous extraction of ground water. 40% – 65% of the lifecycle costs of a pump which is used in an industrial process and runs under a high mechanical load are attributable to repair and maintenance (source: ReMain). According to the final ReMain report, 37% of pumps in the process industry are only operated at short duty cycles. These costs exceed the cost of the energy used to drive the pumps.

Read in part 2: When will controls and valves go wireless? And why not buy compressed air instead of components?