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The importance of understanding the lifetime costs of a pump

05 January 2024

Budgetary pressures can result in purchases being made that are not economical in the long term. Castle Pumps points out the importance of considering more that the upfront costs when specifying a pump.

The principle of product lifecycle costing takes into consideration all of the costs associated with buying, operating and maintaining a pump to ensure that the lowest long-term costs can be achieved. 

Putting a monetary value on future costs for a pump can be difficult, which is why this is often neglected. However, consider the fact that future costs can amount to around 83% of a pump’s life cycle costs, with initial costs being just 17% of total lifetime costs.

Total lifecycle cost considerations should include the following:

Training: Perhaps your operators have been using and servicing a pump for many years. Would buying a slightly cheaper pump that works differently warrant the training costs?

Operation: Labour is the biggest overhead in almost all companies, so wasted time is wasted money, especially if the pump being specified would require operators to manually intervene on a regular basis. A pump supplied with certain automation or control features such as preset batch meters or level switches may initially be more expensive, but the time it may save operators could be huge.

Energy: According to the US Department of Energy, 16% of a typical industrial facility’s electricity costs are generated by pumps. Methods of reducing energy consumption include installing a variable speed drive to operate the motor at actual requirements and investing in parallel pumping systems so that a large pump doesn’t have to be run when duty requirements vary greatly. 

Maintenance: Like any equipment, all pumps need routine maintenance as parts wear. Carrying out regular servicing not only extends the pump lifespan, but it also reduces the likelihood of unexpected failures and downtime. The manufacturer’s instruction manual will advise the frequency of routine maintenance and should also recommend replacing certain components such as the seals, wear rings and impellers every 1-2 years. The cost of carrying out maintenance however can depend upon the complexity of servicing, the price of spares and the quality of the pump’s internals.

For example, if you are choosing between two pumps – say you have the choice of a centrifugal pump cast in stainless steel with back pull-out design, meaning that the motor and pump internals can be removed without disconnection from the pipework. The other is a few hundred pounds cheaper, but it is made of plastic, which is more susceptible to damage and misalignment and needs to be removed whenever maintenance is required. The initial costs may be cheaper, but over its lifespan, its maintenance costs are likely to exceed the difference in purchase cost.

Downtime: Depending upon the pump’s application, downtime can be costly for a business in terms of loss of output or alternative costs. Imagine a pump that is responsible for dosing a specific quantity of ingredient in the production line. If the pump unexpectedly fails, then the production of the mix comes to a halt. 

In applications where downtime may be particularly high, consider a backup pump in a parallel pumping system that kicks in when the other fails, as well as holding onsite spare parts to ensure for quick maintenance and less pump downtime. 

By considering the above factors, you can be confident that you will be receiving the pumping solution that offers the lowest total life cycle cost. 

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