The demand for pumping systems in the infrastructure sector has risen over the years. They are more actively leaning on technological support for their advancement since the present inefficiency of pumping systems has become a big concern. Pumps are classified on the basis of their utility with different specifications of their power range, pipe size, supply phase, etc. There are two major types of industrial pumps – dynamic pumps, which largely consist of centrifugal pumps and positive displacement pumps with subtypes such as rotary pumps, sliding vane pumps and reciprocating pumps. Efficient monitoring of these pumps through new digital solutions can improve their output and reduce the chances of failure. The application of internet of things (IoT) devices and remote monitoring systems, and smart solutions is beginning to take place across industries. The improvement of machinery parts through innovations such as automatic, heavy duty pressure switches and soft starters have contributed to the recent growth of technology deployment in the sectors. There is also an expanding market base that is attracted to the use of energy efficient solar pumps. Integration of photovoltaic (PV) technology into pumps has also resulted in reduced costs. The government is also making efforts to create awareness about the energy efficiency of pumps.
Indian Infrastructure takes a look at the different types of technological developments across sectors…
IoT-based remote monitoring
Integrating the operations of the pumping systems with IoT-based devices and sensors enables increased efficiency. There is a rising trend in their adoption, especially in the water sector. For instance, IoT devices have been introduced by the Bihar government for motorised pumps through their installation on water towers. These help in remote monitoring of pumps for systematic water supply to remote regions of Bihar. They allow officials to receive precise and real-time information on different factors such as loss of water. This helps in optimised management of the water supply by reducing manual intervention. The Bihar government now plans to set up these devices in over 17,000 wards across districts such as East Champaran, Samastipur, Patna, Gaya and Vaishali, among others.
IoT interfaces are also being enabled for the automation of sewer pumping stations (SPSs), which would make water monitoring more effective. It is being undertaken by government authorities such as the Delhi Jal Board (DJB). The DJB plans on automating 116 SPSs for the prevention of water overflow. This would help in the timely discharge of water to the sewage treatment plants (STPs) and the information can be assessed by the DJB through a monitoring device. An alert is sent through the system in case the sewer water crosses the threshold level.
Pump operations are being facilitated by replacing traditional methods with smarter solutions such as the KirloSmart. In August 2022, Kirloskar Brothers Limited (KBL) introduced the advanced version of this hardware- and software-enabled technology, which can remotely monitor industrial pumps. KBL is using these pumps in fluid management solutions in large infrastructure projects across sectors such as water supply, power plants, building and construction, irrigation, and oil and gas. The enhanced KirloSmart solution helps in troubleshooting pumps on a real-time basis, eliminating the need for manual surveillance. As a consequence, the performance of pumps is improved and timely corrective measures can be taken in case of failure. This would be made further possible by built-in analytics and spare management modules that generate alerts for any anomaly in the system. KBL has also provided a web-based portal and interactive mobile application, which display analytical field parameters and the operational behaviour of pumps. This platform can also send alerts through emails, SMS and mobile push notifications on a pump’s health condition for prompt diagnosis and correction. Moreover, these cloud services are system and organisation control-compliant, which tightens data security.
Integration with renewable energy
A quarter of the energy consumed in the industrial sector is through pumps. Technological upgradation of the machinery of pumps alone is not enough. There is a need to improve energy optimisation as well. To this end, many developments are taking place for the promotion and development of solar pumps. The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) scheme by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is one such effort of the Government of India. Component B of PM-KUSUM aims to install 1.75 million standalone solar agricultural pumps of up to 7.5 horsepower (hp) capacity in place of existing diesel pumps in off-grid areas. Under the scheme, the Maharashtra government has announced the target of installing 0.2 million solar agricultural pumps in the state. As of October 2022, a total of 21,499 solar pumps have been installed in Maharashtra. Furthermore, in January 2023, the Solar Energy Corporation of India issued a tender for setting up agricultural solar pumps under this component. The project’s scope of work includes designing, manufacturing, supply, transport, installation, testing and commissioning of off-grid PV water pumping systems of 1-10 hp capacities in Indian states.
In another development, Tata Power has been taking steps to expand the scope of solar pumps in the country. For instance, it has planned to develop around 0.15 million solar pumps in the next five years in Rajasthan. It also aims to have a renewable power portfolio of 10,000 MW in the state during this period. Similarly, the company recently planned to offer solutions for solar pumps along with other green energy products in Odisha.
Other types of technologies that are pushing the limits of pumping systems include ABB soft starters. It is an appliance used to protect the motor from electrical stresses from starting currents. Its application was seen during the collaboration of the Jal Kal Department of Varanasi’s water supply body with ABB India Limited in October 2022. It is installed in the city’s pumping station and STPs. This increases the longevity of the pump as compared to the conventional system as its mechanical wear and tear are reduced. As a result, treated water is effectively pumped at STPs for uninterrupted water supply across the city.
In another development, the launch of the pressure switch mechanical (PSM) – 630 by WIKA Instruments India Private Limited has taken place. It is an automatic, heavy duty pressure switch for applications that include water pumps. PSM-630 has been engineered for manual adjustments as well as automatic cut-off within the prescribed range. The instrument is useful in maintaining the safety of pumping machines as it allows the switching of electrical loads of up to 440 V and 16 amperes.
Pain points and the future roadmap
Pumps and pumping systems face many challenges. These include a large share of the electricity costs, around 40 per cent of the total cost of ownership of a pump and size of pumps, among others. While all infrastructure sectors are taking steps to launch improved technological solutions, the demand for water pumps surpasses this growth. It is coupled with the expected increase of taxes on water and solar water pumps as per the Goods and Services Tax Council. Furthermore, it has been reported that the majority of the 21 million agricultural pump sets in India do not work efficiently. Solar energy has been harnessed in this respect, but the market for hydro pumps has not been captured well. It has a large potential to meet the peak power requirement with renewable energy in the future.
Government initiatives would steadily help in expanding innovations in pumping system. For instance, the Agricultural Demand Side Management (AgDSM) Programme, launched previously, has the key objective of upgrading the efficiency of agricultural pump sets to reduce the energy intensity of the sector. It is estimated that the cost savings through the replacement of improved pumps would be approximately Rs 240 billion, with energy savings of 56 billion units annually. Recently, a few initiatives have been taken under the AgDSM programme. As of January 2023, the Punjab Energy Development Agency is conducting five training workshops with Punjab State Power Corporation Limited under the AgDSM for creating awareness of energy efficiency. This includes lectures on star-labelling measures of various appliances, including pumps, and their operations and maintenance.