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Optimize Your Industrial Pumping Systems

Key Points
  • Pumping systems are good candidates for reducing energy consumption in manufacturing facilities.
  • Proper sizing and speed controls provide significant energy savings.
  • The free Pump System Assessment Tool can help you evaluate your system's performance.  
centrifugal pump

Pumping systems are often critical to manufacturing operations; directly supporting production processes. They use a substantial amount of energy, however, which contributes a significant amount to annual operating costs. In many facilities, much of this energy is wasted due to aging equipment, oversizing, as well as poor maintenance and operational practices. Therefore, it is reasonable to look at pumps when searching for ways to reduce energy consumption in motor-driven systems.

Optimizing pumps and pump systems

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommends specific energy-efficiency measures to optimize system performance and save significantly on energy costs:

Reduce overall system requirements (do not assume requirements are fixed)

  • Equalize flow over production cycle using holding tanks and save 10 percent to 20 percent
  • Eliminate bypass loops and other unnecessary flows and save 10 percent to 20 percent
  • Reduce safety margins in design system capacity and save 5 percent to 10 percent

Match pump size to load

  • Install parallel systems for highly variable loads, or install a larger pump with speed controls; save 10 percent to 50 percent
  • Reduce pump size to better fit the load (pumps are routinely oversized by 15 percent to 25 percent)
  • Use two or more small pumps instead of one large pump, so excess pump capacity can be turned off

Reduce or control pump speed

  • Reduce speed for fixed loads—trim impeller, lower gear ratio
    • 82 percent of pumps have no load modulation
    • Savings of 75 percent in food processing
  • Replace throttling valves with speed controls to meet variable loads
    • Savings of 30 percent to 80 percent for adjustable speed drive installations (only applies to circulating pump systems, not systems with static heads)

Replace system components with more efficient models

  • Replace typical pumps with the most efficient model, or one with an efficient operating point better suited to the operating flows
    • 16 percent of pumps are more than 20 years old and the process has changed over time
    • 10 percent to 25 percent savings

Reduce friction losses

  • Improve friction inefficiency by eliminating unnecessary flow paths and reducing high-flow rate
  • Replace piping components; throttle valves, in particular, are associated with friction losses

Improve operational and maintenance practices

  • Replace worn impellers, especially in semi-solid applications
  • Inspect and repair bearings, lip seals, packing and other seals
    • Pump efficiency degrades from 1 percent to 6 percent for impellers less than the maximum diameter, and with increased wear-ring clearance
    • Maintain pumps and all system components in "like new" condition to avoid efficiency loss
    • Use pumps operating as turbines to recover pressure energy that would otherwise be wasted

In addition to the improvements mentioned above, other measures for reducing pump system components include adjusting the system flow paths; trimming the pump impeller; and adding a gear reducer and a two-speed motor to the existing pump system. 

For more detailed information on increasing pump system efficiency, see Improving Pump System Performance: A Sourcebook for Industry from the DOE.

Assess the efficiency of your pumping system

The Pumping System Assessment Tool (PSAT), available from the DOE, helps to evaluate the efficiency of pumping system operations. PSAT uses achievable pump performance data from Hydraulic Institute standards and motor performance data from the MotorMaster+ database to calculate potential energy and associated cost savings. The PSAT software is available free of charge.

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