Operators of large-scale pumping systems face a number of challenges, not least minimizing energy and maintenance costs. Sulzer’s BLUE BOX. a recent development in data analytics aims to provide real-time information on pump performance.

Pumping installations require large amounts of energy to drive the pumps, so any improvement in efficiency or availability will have a significant effect on the revenue and profitability of the operation. As one of the world’s leading pump manufacturers and an expert in maintenance, repair and retrofit solutions, Sulzer is at the forefront of pumping technology. The most recent development from the company is an advanced data analysis package that uses existing data to identify assets that would benefit from repairs or adjustments in design to make them more efficient. Known as BLUE BOX™, this innovative solution leverages the Internet of Things (IoT) and uses expert analysis to support asset investment decisions.


Pump performance is determined by many factors, not least the design and suitability to the application. In the first instance, this will be an ideal match, but conditions change over time. However, there comes a point where the performance, and therefore the efficiency, of the pump is beyond the preferred range. The challenge is to determine the ideal time to take the pump out of operation and implement the necessary changes to make it more efficient. This “break-even” point occurs when the maintenance costs are outweighed by the cost of lost production due to the lack of pump performance.


BLUE BOX is designed to analyze existing data, creating a comprehensive performance picture for every pump in a process and identifying weak points in the chain. Better utilization of historical data that already exists, coupled with a live data stream, enables the software package to optimize the decision-making process. This enhances the predictive maintenance model by allowing assets and personnel to be in place when a repair or retrofit project is undertaken.


All large-scale pumping installations have a continuous stream of telemetry data that is processed by a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system and programmable logic controllers (PLCs). Gathering this live and historical data directly or via a process historian and combining it with geometry and simulation data enables a complete digital twin representation of pump and system performance to be created. Using a secure access link, BLUE BOX passes the existing data through its advanced analytics engine to create visualizations and trends of all pumping assets.


The additional insight by BLUE BOX enables operators to have a better understanding of pump performance, efficiency and reliability on both an individual and collective basis. Single-digit improvements in efficiency can make savings that deliver a major contribution to overall cost reduction. By making better use of existing data resources, applying expert analysis and years of pump design expertise, Sulzer has created a flexible solution that enables better decision-making and has the potential to save millions of dollars for operators.


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