Ground Water Canada

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Adopting new technologies

The pump world is becoming increasingly tech-savvy with apps and environmentally friendly products.


June 19, 2013
By Karly O’Brien

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Way back when, drillers used to plop a pump in a well, hook it up to a pressure switch, and walk away. With the latest apps, a user can track a pump’s performance, become aware of its history in a matter of seconds, and know when and where it was created.

Way back when, drillers used to plop a pump in a well, hook it up to a pressure switch, and walk away. With the latest apps, a user can track a pump’s performance, become aware of its history in a matter of seconds, and know when and where it was created. Additionally, technologically savvy pumps are saving people money with a solar power option. Ground Water Canada investigated some of the latest gadgets on the market. Let’s take a look at what’s shaking up the pump world.

Remote access apps

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Grundfos’ GO Remote provides live pump data feeds.


 

The GO Remote from Grundfos is one of the first smartphone applications for pump performance that provides the end user with pump control, data collection, and reports.

The app works with Grundfos’ E-pumps and communicates using radio and infrared technology. It provides live pump data feeds concerning duty point, power consumption, speed, temperature, etc. It is specifically designed to cater to Grundfos pumps.

“Everybody love apps,” says Roger McHugh, district sales manager for Grundfos Canada. “You can just download it from the app store and load it onto your iPad, iPhone or android device.” The only operating system this application is not yet  available on (and might never be) is BlackBerry.

McHugh explains that user can walk up to a CU 301, which is the control box for the SQE Constant Pressure Pump, and have the option to learn about the pump’s current performance and the ability to change it.

“The information that is at the bottom of the pump is going to feed into the contractor’s Grundfos GO Remote app,” outlines McHugh. “He’s going to be able to tell the flow rate that pump is at, and if there’s been any faults. So if there’s been any voltage issues the app is going to show alarms with a warning about this problem.”

When asked how user-friendly the technology was, McHugh said: “You can’t make any mistakes with it, and the user interface is simple with a homepage packed with all the information that is most commonly used.”

The app works in conjunction with a control box via a dongle that attaches to your smartphone or tablet. This dongle should be within a distance of four to five feet from the control box specified for the pump. Each control box is the communication device for the pump system. A pressure transducer is attached to the control box, which monitors the water pressure and signals for the pump to speed up or slow down in order to maintain constant pressure.

Other previous devices that addressed remotely controlling a pump were provided as a handheld device with a small screen. In this edition of Ground Water Canada we profiled W.D. Hopper & Sons (page 20), a company that is also a user of Grundfos’ latest technology.

“We’ve had the app for awhile, however, we just received the dongle that goes on your iPhone,” explains Ron Hopper, a well technician in his family-owned business, W.D. Hopper & Sons. “Previously we used their R-100 Remote, but now this puts a few more things into our disposal.”

The R-100 was a Grundfos standalone handheld remote with a “small screen. To access the information you wanted, you needed to grow through a tree of menu items.”

He says the latest version is easier to use.

“Before, I had to memorize the menu path I needed to take to find certain information,” he says, referencing the previous device for pump performance. “The iPhone has a big screen to view the data on, and the menu options are easy to access with a homepage full of details that you are always looking for.”

Hopper hasn’t operated the GO Remote for too long, but says it’s a must have if you’re using variable speed pumps.

Information apps
Xylem launched its free mobile catalogue and literature application for iPad, iPhone and Android devices. This internal product enables its users to access brochures, submittals, performance curves, drawings, applications, part lists, and installation and operation manuals for both residential and commercial markets.

With a simple user interface, the app enables people to find a product by name, category or type. As well, literature on the product can be found by document ID, title, or product name.

“I think a large population of our end users have smartphones now,” says Kyle Schoenheit, global product manager with Xylem Applied Water Systems. “It allows people to quickly and remotely access instructional manuals, trouble shooting, technical support numbers at their fingertips.” It also provides highlights on the product’s offerings, and the technical manual to read about performance curves and other things.

This global company has also launched the opportunity for a user to scan a QR code, a matrix barcode or two-dimensional code, on their products. By scanning the code, an information page appears with details of the pump’s history, which loads in seconds. It is currently only available for the standard submersible pump, but plans are underway to extend its offerings to all products.

“It gives you the pump order, motor and serial number, as well as the assembly date and time among others,” says Richard Barg, market development manager of Goulds Water Technology, Xylem. “By scanning the data matrix [or QR code] you get a bunch of data, so you are aware of the pump’s complete history.”

The QR code is fixed to Xylem’s products with a spare label that the company recommends to be put on the controller.

“I think it will be able to provide the installing contractor with information in the future of how the original pump performed,” Barg continues. “It will allow them to know exactly what was installed based on the scanning of that QR code, and assist you when finding a replacement part.” Barg describes the app as a reference point so users know what any given pump features before they begin working on it or using it.

Environmentally friendly

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The SubDrive SolarPak from Franklin Electric.


 

The SubDrive SolarPak from Franklin Electric is a one-box system that creates a solar-powered water well.

It is designed specifically for pumping clean water using a renewable energy supply. This solar-powered pump includes a solar-powered controller, a submersible pump and motor, and a flow switch from 5 to 90 gpm.

“This product is designed to use a standard Franklin four inch pump and motor, so we are supplementing our standard pumps with a solar pack option,” explains Sean Welsh, national sales manager for Franklin Electric. “It’s also economical to run a solar-powered pump rather than trying to run power out of these sites, especially if they are remote.”

Welsh says the pumps are more expensive than standard ones since they are more technologically advanced. He adds that the homeowner saves in the long run because they don’t need power from the electric companies.

The standard pumps come equipped with a three-phase 200 volt motor, which is converted through the solar controller from the 12 volt DC (that the solar panels produce). “This allows the pump to turn at different speeds to provide the right mix of flow and pressure. These pumps can handle wider flow and wider total head application ranges than previous solar-powered pumps that traditionally can only be used in low-flow scenarios.”

In August 2012, Franklin Electric acquired the Hillborough, Oregon-based Cerus Controls, which Welsh says will help to expand the company’s goal of providing a wider range of products with a focus on controls, constant pressure, variable frequency drives, and automation and monitoring water system applications.

That’s a taste of what’s happening in the wide world of pumps. Stay tuned to Ground Water Canada as we follow cutting edge technology in the ground water industry.


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