Innovation is a key driver of demand in the $76.4 billion global pumps market. Primarily focused on improving control, performance, and energy efficiency to reduce operating costs for end users, pump companies are also designing products with sustainability in mind. For instance:
- In 2022 Pentair plans to launch a product innovation process in which sustainability is a key factor in commercialization.
- The company intends to develop a method that will disclose to customers energy, water, and chemical savings made possible by Pentair’s pumps and other products.
A new Freedonia Group study analyzes key areas of technological innovation in the global pumps industry. Highlighted below are some of the report’s findings.
Smart Pumps & the Industrial Internet of Things
Intelligent and internet-enabled devices and sensors represent the fastest growing product area in the global pump industry and are poised for wide adoption in countries of high economic development. Smart pumping offers lower energy and maintenance costs and reduced downtime. These products include:
- continuously operating sensors that collect data on pump operation, which can be used to monitor and optimize performance
- intelligent sensors that detect pump failure and instantly alert the operator via the internet
- internet-enabled pump controls that can be controlled remotely using a smart phone or other device
- adaptive variable speed drivers that respond to changing pumping conditions
In the last few years, a number of major players in the global pumps industry – including PSG, Scott Fetzer, and Flowserve – have introduced product innovations or improvements. For example, in April 2020, PSG introduced Wilden SafeGuard, the industry’s first remote performance monitoring and alert system for air-operated double diaphragm pumps.
Variable Speed Drivers
Improving the energy efficiency of the pumping system presents an attractive way to reduce costs. This is particularly true in process manufacturing, where the pumping systems accounts for a large portion of total energy usage. Utilizing a variable speed drive such as a variable frequency drive (VFD) or eddy current drive can result in significant energy savings by reducing speed to match the actual system requirements. These products offer substantial growth opportunities going forward as customers are increasingly conscious of energy-saving products as an opportunity for cost reduction and for cultivating an image of environmental sustainability.
Recent innovations in VFDs include Mitsubishi Electric’s FR-E800 series, introduced in May 2020. The FR-E800 series offers a number of advanced features, including fault detection capabilities and auto-tuning of permanent magnet motors for applications requiring energy efficiency. The auto-tuning technology provides configurable parameters that enable quiet operation, higher torque, and faster acceleration.
Innovative Pump Materials
While fluid handling pumps are typically constructed from cast iron, carbon steel, and alloys of these materials, specialty metal alloys of titanium, zirconium, and nickel are increasingly used to improve wear- and corrosion-resistance. In addition, nonmetallic materials such as rubber, plastics, advanced composites, and high technology ceramics and glass are becoming more prevalent.
Although they are more expensive, these materials are better suited for handling acids and other hazardous materials, as well as viscous or high temperature liquids. For example:
- All-plastic pumps, including air-operated double diaphragm (AODD) pumps, are becoming increasingly common, not only for their ability to avoid corrosion, but also because they do not cause metallic contamination, which is crucial for applications such as pharmaceuticals and reagent grade chemicals.
- Ceramic and polymer linings for metallic pumps can lengthen the life of the pump and improve its performance.
Solar-powered water pumps are becoming increasingly common as an alternative to fossil fuel-powered pumps in areas lacking electricity infrastructure. These products are primarily used for both agriculture and can also be used for household water supply. Solar-powered models are available for centrifugal and positive displacement pumps, with both submersible and surface designs commercially available.
Solar-powered irrigation pumps have particularly strong market representation in India, which features both high levels of solar resources and underdeveloped electricity infrastructure. India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has set a target of two million solar irrigation pumps deployed between 2019 and 2022, although installation has lagged and it is expected that this target will not be reached.
These products also have massive long-term potential in Africa, which shares many of the market characteristics driving deployment of solar pumps in India. Among African nations, Kenya in particular has achieved strong deployment of off-grid solar systems, including solar pumps.
The major barrier to greater adoption of solar pumps is their high up-front costs. While these products offer long-term cost savings, the consumers who can benefit most from solar pumps tend to have limited financial flexibility. Going forward, prices of solar systems are expected to continue to fall, enabling greater access to this technology. In addition, companies serving this market are attempting to improve access by offering pay-as-you-go financing plans.
Want to Learn More?
Global Pumps is now available from The Freedonia Group.
About the Author: Peter Kusnic is a Content Writer with The Freedonia Group, where he researches and writes studies focused on an array of industries.