It is true that there are a large number of pump manufacturers out there, but when designing a vehicle, should the pump be left to last as a bolt-on consideration? If all that is required is a cheap and cheerful off-the-shelf pump for a regular, straightforward cleaning job, then perhaps there is no need to go overboard on specification - but what if there are opportunities for contracts where conditions are more challenging?
According to one major pump manufacturer, limiting the choice of one’s work is not always necessary, just because the unit required is not quite off-the-shelf.
“Of course, there are some tricky, complicated tank cleaning applications that not everyone wants to tackle,” said David Brown, managing director of Borger UK.
‘More importance should be placed on pump specification’
“PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue immediately springs to mind – or for that matter, any substance that can quickly harden and continue to form deposits, which take up more and more space. Without regular removal, tons of superfluous ballast can accumulate, which definitely has an adverse effect on loading capacities and therefore costs.
“This doesn’t mean that you need to be encouraged to end up with a pump that is over-engineered. Simplicity should be the order of the day, but always invest in quality.
“As the European Federation of Tank Cleaning Organisations (EFTCO) says, ‘tank cleaning companies have to be professionally adept at the environmental treatment of effluent streams in a responsible way through specially developed and adaptable systems,’ which for me, again, says that more importance should be placed on pump specification.
“It is still all too easy to wreck a pump, even when most in this business are used for short periods of time so that the standing time of vehicles is kept to a minimum.”
Lightweight and compact (including the hydraulic motor) are two obvious starting points, said Brown, with some pump manufacturers offering aluminium versions if required.
Also, if buying off-the-shelf, as is often the case, is that pump really the best to suit the application, or more likely, just the closest thing available?
“If the pump company only has a very limited range,” continued Brown, “then you’ll end up with one from whatever they happen to have available. At Borger for example, we offer 20 different pump sizes. Also, you may think that you’ve secured the best deal, but that cheap and cheerful pump might not give the best performance and it might be the most time-consuming to service, as well as the one where it takes the longest to get spare parts.”
Brown recommended a maintenance-in-place design, where just basic tools are required.
“A high-performance pump doesn’t have to mean that it comes with a design that it is difficult to work on,” he continued. “We supply units that don’t even have a base frame – just a couple of flanges – light enough for two people to easily lift and carry – basically just a pump-head with hydraulic motor, allowing the unit to get as close as possible for maximum suction.”
Brown also stressed the significant benefits of a pump that is reversible, so that uploading and offloading can be achieved without the need to change pipework connections or opening or closing of valves in order to redirect the flow. Reversibility is very useful for flushing – to empty lines or clear blockages for a variety of products if and when required.
Speaking of flow, Brown added: “Technology is such that now even a small pump can provide 85 m3 per hour, which for volumetric efficiency represents terrific value for money - especially when you can choose the best drive option, sized accordingly to meet your needs.”
Looking again at the need for flexibility to be able to handle a variety of tank-cleaning jobs, Brown said it also pays to invest in a pump that can easily handle solids – is also self-priming – and that (for a short time) is actually capable of running dry.
‘Potentially explosive atmospheres’
“For tougher jobs,” he said, “you may also need the pump to be ATEX-compliant for use in potentially explosive atmospheres - and resistant to chemicals so that even the most aggressive media can be conveyed without any problems.
“Industrial standard mechanical seals are a must for this type of work. There are many manufacturers whose pumps don’t offer this flexibility to be interchangeable. Recently, we worked with one tank cleaning company that asked us for specific pump seals for a tough new job they were bidding for. The retrofit, which was very straightforward, helped them win an important new contract. Opportunities are there for those who want to place slightly more importance on which type of pump to use.”
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