Life preserver

There’s so much more to the cost of a pump than its initial price. John Howarth, manager of the Pump Centre, stresses the importance of Life Cycle Costing.

In an age of cheaper and cheaper overseas imports, the concept of Life Cycle Costing (LCC) has never been more important.

This critical technique, which looks beyond the initial price of an item and takes into account the cost of maintaining and powering an asset over its entire operational life, is becoming a crucial tool for any engineer involved in specifying components. In the case of pumps, which typically operate for up to 30 years, LCC is particularly important.

With pumps, energy cost dominates any calculation of life cycle, and minor savings that can be made on the purchase price can result in a significantly higher LCC if the pump selected is unreliable or inefficient.

As the results of more research are published, the shadow of global warming is becoming a more real and pressing issue that will eventually influence government policy across the world. Urgent action will be needed and industry will face increasing environmental and political pressure to reduce emissions, preserve resources and conserve energy.

So the benefits of purchasing equipment based on a lowest LCC will not only offer direct advantages to the end user by reducing the overall cost of ownership, it will also help to advance the wider political and environmental objectives.

But procurement of pumping equipment on a LCC basis is not as simple as it might at first appear. This is because there is no agreement on a common approach, many different factors influence the LCC calculation, and the quality of the input data is often poor or not independently verified by testing or operational experience.

For some years members of the Pump Centre have been at the forefront of the promotion and development of the concepts of LCC, particularly in relation to pumping equipment. The organisation is ideally placed to break down barriers to the implementation of LCC methodology because it has a technology focus and its members are drawn from across the industry and consist of end users, manufacturers and component and service suppliers.

At the beginning of this year the Pump Centre formed an LCC Working Group. Consisting of 20 companies from the UK pump and water industry, this group is chaired by Bob Went of ITT Flygt, the man responsible for introduction of LCC as a means of specifying and procuring pumps in the water industry.

The group is now working on the development of a ‘roadmap’, or model, to aid the implementation of LCC. It has begun the long, complex process of trying to address this across a wide spectrum of topics with the intention of producing guides and tools to meet the needs of industry and users.

The group is also consulting other interested parties and industry contacts as part of the development process. As the more detailed work of the LCC Working Group takes place the Pump Centre will begin to disseminate information and develop the foundations of LCC methodology for procurement of pumping equipment across all industry sectors, with the initial focus being in the water industry.

The Pump Centre, operated by AEA Technology, is a membership organisation dedicated to raising awareness of the latest technical developments in pumping. It provides UK industry with problem-solving expertise and improved training opportunities.

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