Software designed to monitor irrigation pumps
Flowtronex has developed a remote monitoring package for the small pumping stations used to irrigate farms and golf courses. Significant savings can be achieved once the operators have full confidence in the software.Pumping system supplier Flowtronex Europe has recently turned its attention to the monitoring side of pump operations.
The company has recently launched a highly sophisticated software package called Pumplog, which allows pumping station operators to communicate with their station through a PC or laptop, via a modem.
To date, the most receptive market for this new technology has been the turf irrigation industry. However, Flowtronex managing director Steve Hockley sees it as a universal aid to all types of pumping system applications and an alternative to basic telemetry systems.
"Although it is mostly the turf irrigation industry that is using Pumplog in the UK and Europe, other users can benefit equally from the unprecedented range of monitoring and control functions of the software," he said. As an interactive system Pumplog keeps a continuous real-time analysis of all aspects of the system - including pump run status, rpm, running hours, system flow rate, total flow rates and all pump control monitoring pressures.
In addition, the software maintains a 253 event history of a multitude of functions such as pump starts and stops, switch settings, power loss, and system and individual pump faults. All this information is available in graphic format on screen or as printouts. According to Mr Hockley: "The operator can be in complete control of his station no matter where he is, and can view or change any system operational parameter at any time via the computer."
Landscape and turf irrigation specialist Robin Hume Associates has already specified Pumplog for a number of contracts, including St Andrews Links Trust in Scotland. The St Andrews installation was a major project and Pumplog was incorporated to monitor the performance of a system made up of four different flow centres servicing the irrigation needs of five golf courses. According to Adrian Mortram of Robin Hume Associates: "The course managers have found the graphical printouts invaluable as a way of keeping an accurate representation of water flow and consumption, which in turn can give a clear picture of where and if there are problems or leaks in the system."
The St Andrews project is yet to be completed, and Robin Hume Associates is still working on the integrated control of the irrigation system which includes Flowtronex and ITT Flygt pumps. Monitoring water use is particularly important and Mr Mortram believes Pumplog could be invaluable if the Environment Agency (EA) chooses to tighten regulations on water consumption.
Pump system operators can be off site without compromising their control of the system, and can check on its status at any time, from any location. By regularly logging in the computer operator can obtain real-time data, observe trends, highlight which pumps are working more than others, how they are performing and how projected and actual flow and pressure is operating.
All this information means the operator can recognise potential problems or leaks at the time they are occurring and sort them out quickly. Steve Hockley claims: "In relation to the amount of time saved and the convenience of being able to monitor and control from a distance this sort of capital outlay is quickly justified."
In the USA Flowtronex Europe's sister company Flowtronex PSI has provided an upgraded version of Pumplog, Pumplog 2000, for America's largest golf course irrigation system at Paradise Canyon golf course in Nevada.
Pumplog 2000 is even more sophisticated, including 'open architecture' programming - a specific way of programming the system to create a 'thinking-link' between the pump set and other applications. Described as a web monitoring tool, Pumplog 2000 is a highly advanced system.
Palm PC software, which allows users to monitor and control any make of system components through a small hand-held computer, is already being marketed by Flowtronex PSI in the USA and may soon be introduced to the European market. Palm PC's will soon allow Pumplog to be accessed with unit which is not much larger than a mobile phone.