Don’t ignore a pump’s life cycle cost


When it comes to sourcing pumps, or any equipment, businesses are increasingly faced with budgetary pressures that can see them making purchasing decisions that are not economical in the long term, as they only consider the upfront costs. Castle Pumps explains how users can build a more accurate picture of a pump’s cost by considering life cycle costing.

The principle of product life cycle costing (LCC) is that by considering all costs associated with buying, operating and maintaining something, the lowest long-term costs will be achieved: LCC = initial costs + future costs.

Initial costs of a pump

Initial costs are easily identifiable at the point of purchase so are typically the costs that procurement teams consider. These include the price of a pump, including delivery and installation.

However, the cost of operator training is often overlooked. Some pumps may require more manual intervention in their operation than others and, therefore, more training. While if operators have been using a pump for many years, buying a slightly cheaper pump that works differently may not warrant the training costs.

Future costs of a pump

Putting a monetary value on future costs can be difficult, which is why they are often neglected. The problem is that future costs can amount to more than 80% of a pump’s life cycle costs. This is enough to demonstrate the importance of considering all lifetime costs.

Labour: Labour is the most significant overhead in almost all companies, and therefore wasted time is wasted money. If a pump requires operators to frequently manually intervene, this is a cost that should be considered. A pump supplied with automation or control features such as pre-set batch meters or level switches may be more expensive initially, but the labour time it saves could be huge.

Energy: According to the US Department of Energy, 16% of a typical industrial facility’s electricity usage goes towards operating pumps. To reduce this, options include installing a variable speed drive that ensures that a motor is working at the required duty and no more. Users can also invest 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 a pump’s life, but users are less likely to incur unexpected failures and downtime. A manufacturer’s instruction manual will advise the frequency of routine maintenance. It will also recommend replacing certain components such as the seals, wear rings and impellers every one to two years. However, the maintenance costs can depend upon the complexity of servicing, the price of spares, and the quality of the pump’s internals.

For example, a centrifugal pump cast in bronze with a back pull-out design allows the motor and pump internals to be removed without disconnection from the pipework. An alternative maybe a few hundred pounds cheaper, but if it is made of pressed metal, it is more susceptible to damage and misalignment and will need to be removed whenever maintenance is required. The initial costs may be cheaper, but over its life maintenance costs could well exceed the difference.

Downtime: Depending upon a pump’s application, downtime can be extremely costly for a business in terms of loss of output or alternative costs. If a pump is responsible for dosing a specific quantity of ingredient in a production line and it unexpectedly fails, production comes to a halt. The cost of this downtime could be the loss of revenue, unhappy customers whose demand hasn’t been met, or an employee’s labour costs to take over manually.

Disposal: Generally speaking, this shouldn’t vary too much across pump types, except for pumps used for hazardous fluids. During decommissioning, a pump will need to be thoroughly cleaned out for environmental purposes. A clean in place pump could therefore save time and effort here.

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


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