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The great debate

Industry stakeholders share their thoughts on the pros and cons of opting for single-sourced pumping systems

| | Sep 30, 2020 | 1:37 pm
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Nimal Amukotuwa

Over the years, there has been a debate on the wisdom of opting for single-sourced systems, with many claiming that if pumps, control sensors and VFDs are sourced from a single manufacturer, there would be greater reliability, efficiency and scope for overcoming Low Delta T problems. Nimal Amukotuwa, independent consultant, is one such stakeholder. “I find that having the pump, the speed control, the VFD and the pump control panel from the same manufacturer is very advantageous,” he said. “Especially with some of the pump manufacturers integrating part of the pump into the VFDs – they know how the pump works and, that way, get energy-efficient operations.”

Anantharaman Kanagaraman

Anantharaman Kanagaraman, Discipline Lead – MEP, SSH, took a more conservative stance. He said that as a consultant, he believes going for single-source systems would be tricky, because clients require open-source systems so that contractors can get the best price. “This is where we are stuck,” he said. “However, we know pump manufacturers know the pump better, and they know where to operate the pump much better than the controls.” Such an approach, he said, could be viable in small projects. “In the case of smaller buildings with simple air-cooled chillers with primary variable pumps – yes, definitely it could be single-sourced, and the pump manufacturer can integrate all the controllers.” he said. However, Kanagaraman, said that for bigger projects, pump manufacturers need to be more transparent. He said that as pump manufacturers are digitising their systems, the onus is also on them to provide transparent information to the BMS, so it would be easier to integrate the system as a whole. “If pump manufacturers can make graphs, provide more performance points, more open protocols and just be more transparent and then educate the BMS specialist – it will be simple,” he said.

V Sekhar Reddy

For V Sekhar Reddy, Managing Director, Lexzander, the priority is on ensuring flexibility in the hydraulics and controls. “I think the guy handling the hydraulic side and who understands the system should take the lead, and the controls has to follow that,” he said. “Because what happens is that the person on field understands the system better than the guy who does controls, because his understanding of the system is limited – he is just participating in one of the elements. [It’s about] how they interact with respective pumping systems and what they are trying to control. I believe that it need not be from the same source – definitely not. I’ve done many projects with flexibility in terms of both pricing and functionality.” Reddy added that the person who understands hydraulics should ensure pumping systems operate optimally and is supported by the person overseeing controls.

Ibrahim Hesham Hassanien

For Ibrahim Hesham Hassanien, Mechanical Engineer, Allied Consultants, UAE, the key lies in integration. “It doesn’t have to be the same manufacturer, but the system itself has to be integrated together and selected properly, so it works together,” he pointed out. To this end, Hassanien said that it would be helpful to ensure the involvement of the control specialist from the initial design and material selection stage, so they can have a better understanding of the material requirements of the process engineer. Speaking from the perspective of a
designer, Hassanien added that he believes the involvement of manufacturers in the initial stages is also crucial and should be reflected in the design. Then, at the construction stage, the contractor and his team would have to work closely with the supervision consultant to verify each selected equipment, including the data, capacity and loads to ensure selected systems are optimised, he said. Hassanien pointed out that such collaboration throughout the project would ensure that the execution would be seamless and homogenous.

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