Each January, the Submersible Wastewater Pump Association (SWPA) selects experts from within its membership to reflect on the previous twelve months and look ahead to the coming year to discuss which trends, obstacles, and opportunities may await those in our industry. Below, SWPA Executive Director Adam Stolberg is joined by Walt Erndt, vice president and general manager pressure sewer/grinders for Crane Pumps and Systems, and Stephen Doolittle, product marketing manager of commercial and municipal products for Zoeller Company, in a wide-ranging conversation on what 2019 has in store for submersible wastewater pump manufacturers.
Before we look ahead, how would you assess 2018? What areas of the market were most receptive to submersibles?
Stephen Doolittle: 2018 was a good year, across the board, for most all products and territories.
Walt Erndt: Submersible pumps continue to grow in acceptance due to their reliability and initially has a smaller outlay and requires less engineering than a non-submersible system design. Non-submersibles typically require additional design engineering to accommodate the pump and suction pipework.
What strategies have you seen working for OEMs? Which ones should they adopt going forward?
Stephen Doolittle: OEMs do not make up a large share of our business, but we do partner with some pump station and treatment plant packagers who need a line of dependable submersible pumps. These firms have in-house engineering capabilities and a supply channel enabling them to sell, manufacture, install, and support the systems they design. These companies have been busy.
Which applications do you see OEMs relying on in 2019? Which customers are driving the market?
Stephen Doolittle: Those that we deal with manufacture lift stations and/or packaged treatment plants. The convenience and economics to having these systems designed and built at a central location, then shipped to the site for installation is a method preferred by many developers. Based on the number of orders we have already booked for 2019, they are expected to have another good year.
Which innovations or products do you expect to become integral to the wastewater sector?
Walt Erndt: As more maintenance departments and municipalities gravitate toward the Internet of Things (IoT), monitoring of pumps and other equipment will become integral to the system design of the pump station.
Stephen Doolittle: While solids handling pumps capable of passing a 3-inch and larger spherical solid continues to be the workhorse of the industry, impeller designs, and grinding/cutting techniques will continue to be introduced for difficult wastewater applications where ragging is anticipated. Along with these new products, greater awareness as to why these problems occur are being recognized and engineers will design systems that will alleviate some of the problem being experienced.
How impactful have the new pump efficiency standards been on submersibles? Do you see any consensus growing?
Stephen Doolittle: The new pump efficiency standard has impacted the industry, even though submersible wastewater pumps were exempted from the regulation. The impact has come from the number of manufactures who have added high efficiency motors to their product offering.
Walt Erndt: At this point, the DOE has only focused on non-submersible pumps relating to the industrial and commercial sector. I would expect the efficiency standard to also impact submersible pumps, but there has been no information regarding an official time line.
Stephen Doolittle: Whether or not customers are asking for—or engineers are specifying—these motors is a question yet to be answered. For pumps having high horsepower motors, 50 horsepower and greater, that would be expected to occur over time. But the question is still out on pumps having smaller motors and only time will tell.
MODERN PUMPING TODAY, February 2019
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