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Four Ways to Reduce the Life Cycle Cost of a Centrifugal Pump

Deutsche Version hier.

The Life Cycle Cost as a metric, is as fundamental as it is complex. It is common, in scientific literature, to compare it to an iceberg; only a few elements of the whole are clearly visible, while most are hidden and difficult to identify. Like an iceberg to a boat, the parts of the Life Cycle Cost that are least visible can be the ones that most impact your plant expenses. When thinking of the cost of a centrifugal pump, one might only focus on the purchase or installation costs, when, in fact, the Life Cycle Cost is the result of every circumstance in which the machine exists in the plant, through its whole usable life. This is why the Life Cycle Cost is the first variable that you should take into account when purchasing a centrifugal pump or reviewing the expenses of your plant.

The following equation, as defined in the KSB Centrifugal Pump Lexicon by KSB,  can be used to express the LCC:


Cic = Purchase costs

Cin = Costs of installation and commissioning

Ce = Energy costs

Co = Operating costs

Cm = Maintenance costs

Cs = Costs resulting from unplanned downtime and loss of production

Cenv = Environmental costs

Cd = Decommissioning and disposal costs

One way to lower the overall LCC cost is to intervene on each variable of the equation. According to a study by Flygt, each of the eight variables that constitute the Life Cycle Cost of a centrifugal pump has a different weight (graph 1). In this article, we will be focusing on four of them: energy costs, maintenance costs, operational costs and downtime costs.

The Life Cycle Cost of a Centrifugal Pump by Flygt

1.  Energy costs

Energy costs are a good starting point because they are the most impactful variable in the total Life Cycle Cost. According to Flygt’s study, in a typical wastewaters pumping system, energy costs can represent as much as 34% of the whole LCC.

There are many ways to tackle your energy costs, as they depend on many other sub-variables. However, the best way is to “know your BEP”. The BEP, or Best Efficiency Point, is the point at which a pump's developed head and flow volumes make it operate as efficiently as possible. Every pump has one and, by monitoring the vibration profile of your pumps, the AiSight machine learning algorithm will immediately identify the BEP and deviations from it, helping you improve efficiency and decrease energy costs.

Lastly, learning more about the expenses generated by your machinery can give you a better understanding of the costs arising in both your plant and the planet. If you are using centrifugal pumps in your plant, you probably know that these machines account for 20% of world energy consumption. Innovations brought forth by Industry 4.0 not only aim at increasing your factory's productivity, but also at lowering its toll on the environment, perhaps helping your company achieve its CSR goals. When you look at things that way, a solution that can help you monitor the energy consumed by your machine acquires a whole new meaning.

2.  Maintenance costs

The second important variable is maintenance costs, which can be divided into two sets: planned and unplanned maintenance. Planned maintenance is usually scheduled by the operator according to the needs of each machine, per the supplier’s recommendations. Unplanned maintenance becomes necessary when unforeseen events cause the machine to operate abnormally. A common reason centrifugal pumps undergo unplanned maintenance is clogging.  AiSight can help you troubleshoot this problem in two ways.

The first is by helping your machine operate at BEP, making it easy for the operator to calculate all of the clogging instances that could occur in a year.

The second is by alerting you via email, SMS and in your AiSight dashboard when the machine's vibration's change, indicating a clog.

Detecting modifications in the standard behaviour of the machine is what Predictive Maintenance - and thus AiSight - is all about. Such precautions can result in a decrease in your normal maintenance costs by 50%.

3.  Downtime costs

Downtime costs result from an unplanned stoppage of production. As Grundfos clarifies, downtime does not always correspond to a loss of production. It does, however, represent a loss of comfort. They mainly include the costs of replacement parts and the actual reparation of the machine, during an emergency. To tackle this means either reducing the occurrence of downtime and/or being ready for when it happens.

For reducing the occurrence of downtime, Predictive Maintenance is, again, the answer. By monitoring the condition of your machine through vibrations analysis, AiSight can help you increase uptime by 30%. This results in avoided repair costs and extended useful life of your equipment.

On the other hand, being ready for downtime means, that by knowing the behavior of your machine, you can more accurately allocate the resources that are necessary for repairs and spare parts.

4.  Operating costs

Operating costs refer mainly to the technicians performing ordinary tasks on the machine. These include taking care of the physiological wear and tear that results from industrial operations, cleaning the system and, of course, supervising it. By centralizing the overview of all assets in one place and giving you the optimal maintenance strategy, AiSight's solution helps reduce operating costs of unnecessary supervision tasks.

Dive deeper and wider

In conclusion, the analogy of the Life Cycle Cost to an iceberg gives us us a much clearer understanding of this tricky metric. Instead of spending time negotiating and speculating about just one variable— the initial cost, which only represents 10% of the whole LCC— focus on all four previously mentioned variables. Doing so could mean a tangible impact on 72% of the costs generated by your centrifugal pump. AiSight makes it easy. If you're interested in monitoring the condition of your machines to predict and prevent downtime and optimize the use of your machine, reach out to us.

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