An efficient piping system can significantly enhance the performance and lifespan of an industrial pump while reducing operating costs and minimizing downtime.
Several factors must be considered to increase the efficiency of pump piping, including the design, installation, and maintenance of the piping system. The proper method includes selecting the appropriate piping material, size, and arrangement that can affect the system’s pressure drop, flow rate, and fluid velocity. In addition, the pump piping system should be installed according to best practices and standards to ensure it is free of leaks, blockages, and pressure imbalances affecting pump performance.
Regular maintenance of the piping system is critical to its optimal operation. This includes routine inspection, cleaning, and repair of damage or corrosion that may cause leaks, blockages, or uneven flow. Proper maintenance also includes monitoring the system’s pressure, temperature, and flow rate to detect and correct any anomalies immediately.
So, when it comes to enhancing industrial pumping systems, the piping, and additional end-use equipment are just as essential as the pump. Here are eight ways to assess your piping system’s configuration to minimize life-cycle costs.
Choose the Correct Pipe Diameter. Cost plays a significant role in the selection of piping for industrial pumps. Smaller diameter pipes cost less, but the higher friction and total pressure loss due to the higher velocity are significantly greater.
As a result, systems with smaller pipes may require more electricity or even a larger pump, and these energy costs are incurred over the system’s life. On the other hand, larger-diameter industrial pump pipes have higher materials and reasonable prices but generally lower abrasion losses.
So, when optimizing an industrial piping system, consider the initial cost and the additional energy required to use pipes with small diameters. Several software packages can help you calculate life-cycle costs for the various pipe sizes necessary for complex systems.
1. Reduces Pressure Drops.
Reduced flow profiles result in uneven flow and increase energy costs in an industrial pump and its pumping system. Unfortunately, space limitations often prevent an ideal piping system design. In this case, look for ways to compensate for sharp bends and expansion and contraction transitions. In addition, it would be best if you kept pipes as straight as possible. Finally, install valves and system components to match the piping layout when designing new systems.
2. Select Low-Loss Parts.
Valve selection is often determined by operating requirements such as maximum operating pressure, opening and closing cycles, handwheel torque, and stem leakage. As a result, designers often trade efficiency for initial cost for applications with modest overall operating requirements. Take globe valves, for example. Engineers like them because they are simple and inexpensive, but the flow path through the valve has a relatively high coefficient of friction.
Switching to a different type of valve can reduce these losses and the overall life cycle cost of the industrial pump system.
3. Sizing Valves for Maximum System Flow
System designers often add safety margins and oversize pumps to account for unknowns such as pump performance, piping fouling and scaling, and future system requirements. Unfortunately, this safety margin often leads engineers to specify a more significant pressure drop across the valve than necessary.
The result is an undersized valve with high energy or friction loss. The same is valid for sizing valves for maximum system flow. Designing for much more significant than average flow results in excessive pressure drops across the valve under typical operating conditions.
4. Deliver Uniform Flow into the Pump.
Rotodynamic pumps operate most efficiently when they have a uniform inlet flow profile. This smooths the transition of the fluid from the suction nozzle to the impeller eye, which then transfers energy to the fluid by accelerating it along the vane to its tip. If the flow is uneven, uniform energy transfer is prevented. However, variable flow can also cause excessive vibration, shortening pump life and weakening pipe welds, mechanical joints, and supports.
When designing new industrial pump systems, provide as much straight pipe as possible upstream of the pump’s suction ports. The closer short-radius elbows and valves are to the suction port on existing systems, the more likely they are to create a highly turbulent flow that will affect pump performance. This is especially important when the suction pressure in the pump and the flow velocity are low.
5. Restrict Air and Vapor Entrapment.
Air or steam trapping results from poor system design or valve selection. For example, air or vapor entrapment occurs when the pump system has no constant slope or no bleed valves at high points. When this happens downstream of the pump, the air or vapor pockets reduce the effective fluid flow area in the line, resulting in a choking effect similar to a partially closed valve.
For piping upstream of the pump, pockets can cause pressure pulsations that affect pump performance. Use eccentric reducers and sufficiently straight piping to the pump suction port if space permits.
6. Control Vortex Formation.
Free surface vortices occur in both tanks and wet wells when the liquid level drops too close to the suction inlet of a pump or submerged suction line. When free surface vortices occur, air enters the pump. This can cause a loss of suction head and affect performance.
In severe cases, the pump may lose its priming power. Since most centrifugal pumps are not self-priming or submersible, maintenance personnel must manually fill, restart, and bleed the pumps. In addition, too much air could damage mechanical seals, packings, and impeller wear rings.
Monitoring the water level with simple sensors or with an automatic water level system ensures that the pump or suction line is sufficiently submerged.
7. Maintain your piping system.
An industrial pump and its associated piping are rarely perfectly aligned when installed. Most often, installers or service personnel resort to manual mechanical corrections. When these corrections are significant, the mechanical stress on the piping pulls the pump out of alignment, shortening the life of the pump and, in severe cases, can lead to catastrophic failure.
The piping around the pump should be appropriately supported and secured with pipe anchors and hangers. This will also reduce vibration and extend the life of the pump.
8. Enhancing Pump Piping Systems for Maximum Productivity
Optimizing the efficiency of industrial pump piping systems is crucial for reducing energy consumption, minimizing maintenance costs, and improving overall productivity. Implementing the eight tips mentioned can help boost piping efficacy. In addition, regular monitoring, maintenance, and upgrades can help resolve errors before they become significant. As a result, industries can significantly enhance their effectiveness, reduce downtime, and improve their bottom line by prioritizing industrial pump piping systems’ proper design and maintenance.
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