Chemical injection pumps are important in a range of industries including chemical, oil and gas, water treatment, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and agriculture. Solar electric metering pumps are emerging to support the need for environmental sustainability. The market is further segmented by the metering pump driver including hydraulic, gas and engine-actuated, and injection-type with single- and multi-port designs.
The level of repetition and precision required to inject small volumes accurately not only requires precise designs, but also the growing use of intelligence embedded locally or remotely. The ability to adjust flow rates of highly reactive chemicals is important to meet changing process demands. Chemicals can be highly reactive with pump materials, so end users must provide chemical formulas to the supplier. Final selection of injection pump design materials depends on chemical composition, volume, injection frequency and supply pressure.
Metering pumps increasingly interface with digital controllers, distributed control systems (DCS), programmable logic controllers (PLC) or supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. These systems can be interconnected through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) using predictive analytics to ensure consistency and reliability for corrosive, hazardous, viscous and other demanding applications. The use of intelligence has improved turndown ratios from a standard of 10:1 to as high as 1,000:1, with a steady-state accuracy of +/- 1 percent and instantaneous adjustments.
The use of IIoT for injection pumps presents an opportunity to improve overall system reliability beyond traditional condition monitoring.
While condition monitoring provides visibility into a pump’s health, it cannot quantify failure uncertainty, monetize risk or support strategic planning. IIoT integrates reliability and condition monitoring, allowing the shift from reactive to proactive maintenance.
Significant barriers remain to the adoption of new technology. The following is an overview of some hurdles and their applicability:
- Security concerns: High-value engineered pumps are usually in critical hazardous service where the liability of software malfunction and hacking far outweighs the convenience and marginal operational gains.
- Legacy equipment: Legacy pumps and systems are inadequately engineered or not adaptable because of the costs tied to replacement, refurbishment or obsolescence.
- Technology immaturity: The ecosystem of sensors, algorithms, data acquisition and enterprise software is either lacking maturity and/or the interoperability required.
- Privacy concerns: Pump system input/output data often is considered to be business confidential. Producers prefer to retain flexibility to engage multiple pump OEMs and are reluctant to offer data access to the supplier company.
- Lack of skilled workers: Projected value of digital products and services requires an amalgamation of skills such as wireless communication, microelectronics and nanotechnology that has little precedent in industry.
Some key benefits of overcoming these barriers include:
- preventive maintenance data that was not previously available
- leverage for OEM discussions related to system performance
- early insight for energy savings and unplanned shutdowns
- ensuring tested quality, security and privacy for operators
- foundation for developing future predictive maintenance
- improved process sustainability and safety
- tracking and managing maintenance costs