AODD pumps possess the operational capabilities to optimize air usage and satisfy the tenets of the sustainable manufacturing movement. There is no aspect of human existence that can function properly or reliably without energy produced from refined crude oil, natural gas, and coal. Therefore, it is imperative that companies that rely on energy to power industrial-manufacturing operations create and implement systems that are as energy-efficient as possible, especially as energy costs continue to rise.
By Tom Zuckett, AODD Business Development Manager PSG & Wilden.
To aid these companies in creating both sustainable manufacturing regimes and battling increasing energy costs, several companies that supply energy through the electrical power grid have created rebate programs. Industrial companies that can demonstrate methods of operation that require less energy and more sustainability can be eligible to receive monetary refunds.
Knowing this, many industries are commendably attempting to develop new manufacturing and production methods – known as ʽsustainable manufacturing’ – that are more environmentally and socially friendly. The caveat, however, is that while these methods can have long-term benefits for the future, they can also have higher upfront implementation costs.
Air-operated double-diaphragm (AODD) pumps are powered by air, and air compressors are ultimately run by electricity. Prices for a kilowatt/hour (kWh) of electricity have been significantly influenced in recent years. In 2017, the average national price for a kWh was USD $0.07. In March 2022, that price had more than doubled to an average of USD $14.47 per kWh, which was up from USD $13.33 per kWh a year earlier.
The lucky residents of Montana, Oregon and North Dakota saw a decline in electricity prices from 2021 to 2022, but average costs (USD $10.03 to USD $11.01 per kWh) were still higher than 2017’s national average. On the other hand, the state of Maine had seen its average kWh price jump more than 40% to USD $23.03 per kWh in 2022, making it one of eight states – with Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island being the unfortunate others – to have a kWh average higher than 20 cents.
Although this might look like a slight increase of a few pennies, these higher costs can quickly add up, not just for homes and businesses trying to stay warm in the winter, but for industrial operators that are the backbone of the global manufacturing chain. The Hydraulic Institute revealed the importance of electricity in industrial manufacturing in a study that showed industrial pumping systems can account for nearly 20% of the world’s electricity demand and that energy consumption can be up to 90% of the total cost of owning and operating a pump.
At the same time, it has been estimated that 30% to 50% of the energy that is consumed by pumps can be saved through the implementation of equipment or control-system upgrades. This makes pump systems an easy target for developing operational improvements that can lower energy consumption which will help optimize operating costs and create a more environmentally friendly mode of operation.
According to the World Commission on Environment and Development, sustainable manufacturing is designed to “meet the needs of the present without compromising the capability of future generations to meet theirs.” This can be accomplished by manufacturing products via economical means and utilizing components that reduce waste and negative environmental impacts. The claim that this altruistic mindset is being adopted by many of the world’s largest companies is backed by KPMG’s 2020 Survey of Sustainability Reporting which showed that 80% of the world’s leading companies are now reporting on sustainability efforts and are incorporating sustainability programs into day-to-day operational goals.
There are six elements that must be optimized to create a reliable, sustainable-manufacturing process, and pumps that are capable of operating effectively, while contributing to at least four of the six elements: manufacturing cost, power consumption, operational safety, and environmental friendliness. In order to overcome the challenges of energy acquisition and consumption while still being able to live up to the tenets of the growing sustainable-manufacturing movement, operators of industrial-manufacturing facilities must find ways to improve their pumping systems and processes.
Pumps are required pieces of equipment in many applications within a manufacturing facility, from loading and unloading raw materials and finished products to the transfer of critical fluids and waste products. While the pumping landscape is rife with different technologies, all of which must be powered through some type of energy source, AODD pumps have proven over the decades to be one of the top choices for pumping applications.
AODD pumps are reciprocating, positive-displacement pumps that are driven by electricity-generated compressed air. AODD pumps are an ideal solution for many industrial liquid-handling applications because of their simple design, which simply features two diaphragms that are connected by a common shaft, two inlet ball valves and two outlet ball valves. The diaphragms are driven by compressed air, which removes mechanical stress from the pump’s operation, leading to a longer and more reliable service life.
While the AODD pump’s features and benefits were an undoubted revelation when introduced to the market nearly 70 years ago, the pumps required large amounts of compressed air to operate properly. This compressed air is delivered to the pump via electricity, which, as noted earlier, has been increasing in price in recent years.
For example. Jim Wilden, the creator of AODD pumps, was an innovator and this mindset has been ingrained in his company’s DNA from the start. This has led to a pursuit of excellence that has resulted in a number of innovative improvements to the design and operation of AODD pumps over the years.
The engineers at Wilden invented the Pro-Flo® SHIFT Air Distribution System (ADS) to help reduce the overall amount of compressed air needed to operate the pump while simultaneously optimizing the air that is used. These types of air distribution systems were not just an incremental improvement in ADS technology, it was a true game-changer, one that represented an entirely new way of looking at how pneumatic pumps operate.
The inefficiency in the operation of traditional ADSs is the time delay that AODD pumps experience when pressurized air is switched from one air chamber to the other. This results in overfilling of the air chamber, with the excess air vented into the atmosphere without having any beneficial effect on the pumping process.
To combat overfilling, the design and operation of certain ADS equipment restrict the airflow into the air chamber near the end of each pump stroke so that only enough air is introduced to keep the pumping process functioning. The key here is the incorporation of a specialized air control spool that automatically meters the air to prevent overfilling with no reduction of product yield. The result is reduced air consumption while still maintaining maximum operational efficiency and flow rates.
In fact, this air distribution system can operate reliably and efficiently with up to 60% less compressed air when compared to other AODD pump technologies while still being able to achieve flow rates that are up to 34% higher.
Whether it is for an existing installation using older ADS technology or the upgrade of a pump, manufacturers and its distribution partners have developed tools and usage calculators that can provide proof that AODD pumps are more energy efficient and can be used in a sustainable-manufacturing system.
With energy costs continuing to increase and companies encouraged to make manufacturing operations more sustainable, finding the right pumping technology has never been more important. AODD pump technology has been proven to ease energy consumption and contribute to more sustainable manufacturing processes. With documented reductions in air consumption and simultaneous improvements in flow rates, implementing AODD pumps is a reliable strategy for pumping solutions many of the world’s most significant manufacturing operations can utilize.