Innovation is pumping in Industry 4.0

By Darryl Macdougall, Managing Director, Verder Pumps South Africa

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Darryl Macdougall, Managing Director, Verder Pumps South Africa

Driven by the need to achieve environmentally sustainable production facilities, contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and remain profitable, Industry 4.0 demands that the manufacturing industry seek out innovative solutions to industrial processing operations. Pump systems are often overlooked as an opportunity for environmental improvements, cost reduction and production capacity improvement. But they are integral to every industrial processing facility, and pump solution providers must invest in research and development (R&D) to ensure they are supporting their clients.

Continuous R&D in pump solutions has seen incredible new technologies come to market in recent years. From IoT enabled pump monitoring to emerging technology – like peristaltic or hose pumps – pump solutions can make significant contributions to enhancing returns in processing operations, reducing negative environmental impact and curbing production costs.

Incorporating IoT is a powerful example of how innovative pump solution providers can rise to the challenge of supporting their clients’ digital transformation. IoT-enabled pump monitoring reduces indirect production costs through improved accuracy in the production process and enabling proactive servicing and downtime. These solutions can record performance, plan maintenance, and receive alerts on problems that not only allow for efficient maintenance planning but also prevent downtime caused by critical system errors, such as tube failure, before it occurs.

Water management in industrial processing is ripe for this kind of disruption. High-income countries consume 59% of available water in their industrial processes, compared to 8% in low-income countries. Traditional pump systems, which are often low-tech, should be replaced with IoT-enabled pumping solutions that provide real-time measurements and facilitate the flexibility to redirect water to where is needed in the system, and away from where it is not. This prevents waste and reduces the frequency of repair issues that are often prevalent due to water’s tendency to wear down and corrode materials. In addition, these systems are able to collect volumes of data that can be analysed to provide meaningful insights into how water can be better managed, and waste reduced.

But the role of pumping solutions in managing this scarce resource doesn’t end with management and waste reduction. Innovations in hygienic pump solutions can help to improve water quality as well. Improvements in dosing accuracy, for example, have led to more precise and safe addition of disinfectants like hypochlorite to water that was previously considered unsafe for human consumption, thereby improving access to safe drinking water in households around the world.

Peristaltic pump solutions are another innovation that can have powerful impacts on industrial manufacturing. These pump solutions are more cost effective than traditional ones, as they require less initial investment, as well as less overall maintenance costs and downtime. This provides a higher return on capital and easier operations. They also reduce the water needed in certain production processes, as they can save dilution water. They further reduce environmental impact as they take up less space, are more energy efficient, and pose less risk of chemical leakages than conventional pumps. Because peristaltic pump solutions eliminate leaking seals, the overall production process produces less chemical waste or damage and, thereby, less pollution and waste that impacts the natural environment.