All you need, under one roof
If a plant has to deal with several manufacturers after a component part of a pump is faulty or has failed, the resultant confusion can lead to costly downtime. Lee Tebbatt explains the benefits of getting pump spares from one source.
There is, therefore, a lot to be said for working with one point of contact that can provide a spares and aftersales service across a range of pump manufacturers.
If a pump, which is an integral part of a treatment process, fails, calling the manufacturer out to fix it might not entirely solve the problem.
Pumps are complex pieces of equipment. They do not just induce the flow of liquid - they can be manufactured and programmed to vary flow and pressure, to minimise energy consumption, to carry different types of liquid at varying densities, temperatures and chemical composition.
At specification stage, procurement managers may find their preferred choice of pump is only available as a bespoke design from one manufacturer. The next challenge is to ensure the pump is compatible with the component parts of the system.
More often than not, an additional supplier will need to be involved. This means that when the system fails, it can be confusing to know who to call.
But what is the issue with this? Why does it matter if more than one maintenance engineer needs to be called out? There are two issues - one is time, the other is money.
Neither of these are things that can afford to be wasted. For example, take a submersible pump fitted on a guide -rail system. This is typically a bespoke installation, where the sheer weight of the pump holds it against the pipework aperture - secured with a clamp-and-claw mechanism bespoke to the manufacturer.
This design requires all the parts to be fully compatible for it to work, which means that if just one part requires replacement or maintenance work, the entire system could be inoperable, with loss of production.
If multiple orders need to be raised through a number of different suppliers, there can be further hidden costs.
The issues that have been taken into consideration are the obvious costs of time and money - but what about safety? The materials that are pumped around waste treatment plants are hazardous, and the risks associated with leakages, if a system fails, can be serious.
Most water treatment companies and authorities operate framework agreements with preferred suppliers. These are put in place after procurement needs have been assessed and supplier quotes have been researched from across the industry - resulting in the selection of the most suitable solution based on a number of key parameters.
While these agreements are in place for a reason, they are usually most relevant for the initial contracted project work, meaning that after a system has been installed the aftersales support can be sourced from elsewhere. This opens up opportunities for procurement managers, especially those who may have inherited a system, or who are facing ongoing repair and maintenance problems across a number of different manufacturers.
The importance of aftersales support can be underestimated, and this is the key to seeing the bigger picture. A pump should not simply be installed, and then left for the on-site engineer to run regular checks on.
Maintenance requires technical expertise and regular training, along with an understanding of the complete pumping system. The technology used in the manufacture of pumps, and their associated systems is constantly moving forward. If a pump has been specified to fit into an existing system and one element breaks down, the repair work can be challenging.
On-site engineers may not be completely up to speed on the technical details of each component part. Most likely they will have to call someone out to repair the problem, which brings us back to the problem of where responsibilities lie.
Some industry sectors are beginning to realise this. In the water treatment sector, procurement staff are increasingly beginning to look for pump manufacturers and distributors that offer a complete service - from specification and installation right through to service, repair or replacement.
This is where companies like AMS Pumps can help. The company is a specialist brand within BSS Industrial.
AMS does not manufacture pumps, but offers distribution and technical support, and aftersales service.
AMS says: "We work with pump manufacturers nationwide and have the technical knowledge, capabilities and product ranges to service the demands of a variety of industry sectors - including drainage and wastewater, water supply, sewage and treatment, and chemical process and dosing.
"This set-up means that AMS can offer the complete one-stop shop, rather like the motor mechanic or the IT helpdesk. The service starts with technical product selection, replacement parts, new application projects, installation, commissioning and servicing contracts. So if one component part fails, AMS can assess the system in its entirety, and organise the necessary course of action to get everything back up and running in as little time possible.
"One of the other benefits of working with a company like AMS, is its size. Some independent pump manufacturers are simply not set up to offer a quick turnaround on spare parts and technical services. But because AMS has exclusive agreements in place with a range of companies, it means it keeps parts in stock and can provide a next-day service for spares, repair and maintenance."
Seeing the bigger picture in terms of pump maintenance and supply also needs to take into consideration factors such as life-cycle costs and energy consumption. A pump is just one component part of a process line.
All too often specifiers look only at the more obvious costs - initial capital outlay, ongoing maintenance, and perhaps the end-of-life disposal costs - but overlook the energy consumption levels. This is a crucial mistake, as across the life cycle of a pump, the energy consumption accounts for a staggering 95% of total costs - far exceeding other variables.
AMS says: "We can offer advice on energy saving - appreciating the long-term considerations - rather than the quick-win sales. Schemes like AMS' energy-savings initiative are beginning to catch on, and the impacts are being felt across industry sectors.
"The pump's industry is evolving. Historical problems of downtime, inefficiencies and maintenance issues could soon be worries of the past, as the service offering of companies like AMS gather momentum. "
It is worth looking beyond the initial installation requirements for pumps and assessing how systems need to perform in the long term. This is before any contracts are signed - this could lead to better peace of mind for the future.
Lee Tebbatt is brand sales director at AMS Pumps.
T: 0870 609 2101