Water utilities have a challenging but important charge – to deliver their customers’ water as reliably as possible while operating efficiently. However, the current state of the art in the water industry can limit both reliability and energy efficiency. Here’s an example of what I mean:We have a customer who installed our software suites on their 5-pump pump station. As we were learning how the customer operates the station, the operations manager told us that pump 2 at the station was the operators’ favorite pump. Indeed, as we looked at their operating data, we found that pump 2 was their lead pump, meaning that whenever the station needed to deliver water, pump 2 would be the first pump to turn on.However, once our Asset Management Suite software performed automated tests on each of the five pumps at the station, it was clear that pump 2 was a poor choice for a lead pump. Here is a picture of what pump 2’s measured head and efficiency curves looked like in comparison to factory (brand new) curves:Pump 2’s pump curves: Comparing the factory efficiency curve (yellow) to the tested efficiency curve (red) shows that the pump has worn significantly – from a peak efficiency of about 85 percent to a peak efficiency of about 59 percent. Comparing the factory capacity curve (light blue) to the tested capacity curve (dark blue) shows that the pump has also worn in terms of capacity.In contrast, pump 1’s measured pump curves very nearly match the factory curves:Optimization calculations show that pump 1 uses about 25 percent less energy to deliver almost double the flow of pump 2. It is clear that pump 2 should not have been the “favorite pump” at this station. After seeing the results of the pump tests, the station operators took pump 2 offline.Surely this case is an outlier, right? No. Unfortunately, the station operators were completely unaware of the difference in performance and efficiency between pump 1 and pump 2 because they had no data or metrics that they could use to compare the two pumps. This lack of data is standard throughout the water industry. Most often, utilities employ a “run-to-failure” maintenance schedule – meaning that pumps are replaced when they become so worn that they stop pumping. As we saw with our friends at the 5-pump pump station, this means that pumps can operate for years with significantly reduced energy efficiency. Utilities are essentially “flying blind” in terms of the health of some of their most important assets – their pumps.In response to this problem, Specific Energy has developed a simple but effective metric that operators and engineers can use to track pump efficiency and target specific pumps for predictive maintenance – the Pump Health Index (PHI). Specific Energy’s Asset Management Suite automatically calculates PHI after a pump is tested by taking the ratio of the peak tested efficiency value to the peak factory efficiency value. For example, in the case that I mentioned before, pump 2 scored a PHI of 69, while pump 1 scored a PHI of 102.The utility is now installing the Asset Management Suite on more sites to acquire valuable PHI metrics on each of their pumps.Pump Health Index is a simple but powerful metric that all utilities should be tracking to improve the operation and maintenance of their systems, but new insight into pump health and operation should not end with PHI. In a follow up post, I will cover some more advanced metrics that utilities can track to achieve the best practices in pump station asset management and operation.What questions do you have?