Smart Pumping System Adapts to Environment in Real Time

Flygt Concertor system for wastewater applications is designed to minimize energy usage, reduce pump station cleaning costs, and shrink pump inventories.
Smart Pumping System Adapts to Environment in Real Time
The control unit includes an energy minimizer function that monitors the pump and finds the operating point with the best energy efficiency.

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Wastewater pumping stations can be prone to pump clogging and inefficient energy consumption. They can also require frequent cleaning by way of waterjet/vacuum trucks.

Now Xylem has introduced the Concertor pumping system with integrated intelligence.

The system, from the Flygt brand, is designed to sense conditions in its operating environment, adapt its performance in real time, and provide feedback to station operators.

The manufacturer says the system can simplify the pumping process from selection, installation, commissioning and monitoring in a package with a compact footprint. The company reports that field tests around the world have validated benefits that include up to 70 percent energy savings when compared to conventional pumping, up to 80 percent lower pump inventories, and up to 80 percent savings on vacuum cleaning of lift stations.

The system can be used with wastewater pumps from 3 to 10 hp. It combines IE4 motor efficiency with the company’s Adaptive N-hydraulics, integrated power electronics and intelligent controls. It includes an automatic cleaning cycle that helps prevent clogging. Christian Wiklund, vice president and director of product development for Xylem’s Flygt products, talked about the technology in an interview with Treatment Plant Operator.

TPO: What was the reason for bringing this offering to the market?

Wiklund: Our guiding force is to develop products that have the lowest life cycle cost. In line with that, we have three principles: Reliability, sustainable energy efficiency, and ease of installation and operation. For reliability, we developed the anti-clog function. On sustainable energy efficiency, we combined our advanced Adaptive-N hydraulics with IE4 motor efficiency. We also included an energy minimizer function that continuously monitors the pump to find the operational point that requires the least energy consumption.

TPO: How does this technology help users reduce their pump inventory?

Wiklund: The pump industry is built around the idea that a consultant calculates the duty point needed in a specific pump station in terms of head and flow. Then the customer orders pumps to meet that duty point. That means many variants of pumps are needed to meet multiple duty points in different pump stations.

Concertor doesn’t have a specific pump curve or duty point — it has a performance field. So within a specific range of horsepower or head and flow, a Concertor automatically finds the optimum duty point with the lowest possible energy usage. So instead of having numerous versions of pumps for different duty points, the user can have this pump in stock as a spare and know that it will most likely work. For big customers, this provides a major value by enabling them to reduce their inventory.

TPO: How does the anti-clog function operate?

Wiklund: If a rag enters the pump and gets between the impeller and the insert ring, that increases the motor torque. When the torque increases, so does the current to the motor. That triggers a cleaning cycle. The pump stops very quickly so that the rag does not get stuck. The pump then starts operating at different speeds and directions — it goes backward and forward until the rag has passed through. The cleaning cycle may take one second, or one minute, or 10 minutes. In any case, that is much faster than sending two service technicians to pull the pump and unclog it.

TPO: How does the energy minimizer locate the point of lowest consumption?

Wiklund: On the first pump cycle, when the pump is triggered to start by an inflow to the pump station, the pump will run at 60 Hz. On the next cycle, it will run the pump at 59 Hz, and measure and compare the energy consumption between the two speeds. If operating at 59 Hz reduces consumption, the next pump cycle will be at 58 Hz. The process continues until energy usage reaches the lowest level and starts to increase. This function alone in many cases can save up to 50 percent on energy.

TPO: How does this speed variability compare with using variable-frequency drives?

Wiklund: An issue with variable-frequency drives in many cases is that they can break down due to heat, dust and other environmental conditions. The drives need cooling and fresh air. With Concertor, the power electronics are built into the pump. Since the pump is submerged, it has very good cooling and no exposure to air pollution. That makes for a very reliable system.

TPO: What enables this system to reduce the need for pump station vacuuming?

Wiklund: In a typical pump station, pump starts and stops are triggered by level switches, so that the pump always starts and stops at the same water level. This means floating debris, fats and grease stay on the surface of the water and can build up on the walls over time. Concertor uses a pressure sensor and alternates the start and stop levels. In addition, at certain intervals, the system pumps down to the level of the inlet and removes all the floating material.

TPO: How do pump station operators interact with the system?

Wiklund: The system has multiple communication protocols built into it. Operators can see the pump performance on a human-machine interface, or it can be connected to an existing SCADA system. It can also be connected to the cloud. The interface shows the current energy consumption and pump speed. It also shows the number of cleaning cycles that have been triggered, and so how many times a traditional pump likely would have clogged.

TPO: Apart from pilot testing, what results have you seen on permanent installations of this technology?

Wiklund: We have a total of about 25 installations in Europe, the United States and the Middle East. Those are connected to the cloud, allowing our team to monitor the performance of the pumps. The results have been very positive, and the pumps have been problem-free. We have replaced older Flygt products and also competitive products with the Concertor.


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