Atlantic Pumps: Advancing Sustainability to the Aggregates Industry
The UK aggregates industry is already one of the most sustainable in the world. Some 30% of our aggregate supply comes from recycled and secondary materials, the highest in Europe and over three times the EU average of 8%.
It could be argued that with the UN defining sustainability as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” and with rock-forming minerals constituting more than 90% of the Earth’s crust, that quarrying is infinitely sustainable. However, the sight of raw materials being extracted from a quarry is not a picture associated with a responsible use of resources for the next generation. The industry faces three growing challenges.
Firstly, there is a demand across the commercial world for industry to be more efficient, use less energy and ultimately become carbon-neutral. Investors are favouring sustainable companies and industries, and governments are finding excuses to raise taxes in the name of sustainability. The production of cement is particularly in the spotlight as it is by nature an energy and carbon dioxide intensive process.
Secondly, there is a need for quarries to become better neighbours, with increasingly stringent regulations covering water abstraction and discharge, dust and noise pollution and returning finished sites in a way that promotes plants and wildlife.
Finally, this concern for the environment, combined with increasing demand for land for housing, means that obtaining permission for new quarries or extensions is getting harder. It is perhaps not always appreciated that sourcing building materials locally is actually good for the environment.
As a manufacturer Atlantic Pumps see these challenges as an opportunity. Post-Brexit UK can innovate, contribute to a sustainable future and sustain a thriving economy at the same time. Below we outline some of the areas where we are working with the aggregates industry to meet these challenges.
Reducing Energy Consumption
Energy costs are a major issue for industry today, both in the need to improve the efficiency and profitability of our business enterprises, and in reducing the impact of business on the environment by consuming less carbon dioxide.
Often when thinking of the costs of our pumps we think a lot about the purchase price, hire costs, or the on-going maintenance costs, spares and servicing. Yet it is a little-known fact that all this makes up only 15% of the lifetime costs of a pump.
An astonishing 85% of the life-cycle cost of a pump is the cost of the energy consumed to keep the pump running. Indeed, it is estimated that no less than 20% of the world’s electricity is consumed powering pumping systems.
One of the best ways to reduce energy costs is to ensure your pumps are correctly sized for the application. It is estimated that up to 30% of installed rotating pumps are bigger than they need to be. Lower energy costs are a direct result of matching the correct pump to your system.
Selecting the correct pump for the temperature, viscosity or acidity of the fluid, solids particle size or pipework configuration can have a significant impact on efficiency. An additional benefit of selecting the correct pump for your application, is that it is highly likely to last longer and cost less to maintain.
When replacing pumps where the original system was not optimised for energy usage, savings of 50% or more can often be achieved. This means significant improvements in sustainability can come with significant savings in costs to the industry.
Diesel vs Electric
Diesel pumps, often chosen for quarry dewatering, create more emissions and are less efficient than electric pumps. This coupled with higher maintenance requirements means they are considerably more expensive to run. Also, quarries are moving towards sourcing electricity from renewable sources, which means electric pumps can be carbon-neutral.
So, unless it is a very temporary requirement or the location makes it impossible, it’s always worth considering an electric pump rather than a diesel pump.
Improving Asset Utilisation
Monitoring how much your equipment is being used, how much energy they are consuming and how efficient they are makes great business sense and drives down energy consumption.
Atlantic Pumps are pioneers in the field, with the well-established online Pump Register now having the ability to actively monitor asset and energy usage in real time. Using the patented Intrax Pump Monitor, you can collect data on your pumps (accessible from anywhere in the world) that can measure runtime and energy use, and pre-empt pump problems, reducing downtime and expensive pump failures.
Remote Monitoring of Site Abstraction and Discharge
Controlling the volume and quality of the water you abstract and discharge not only makes you a better neighbour, it also helps you avoid large fines and the possible revoking of your quarrying licence.
With this in mind, Atlantic Pumps have developed the revolutionary EnviroHub water management system.
Able to monitor a whole quarry, this system can remotely connect sensors monitoring factors such as water volumes, pH levels and turbidity. The sensors relay this information using leading-edge Internet of things telegraphy to an online portal. Limits can set to any of the variables which sets off alerts or shuts down equipment if any levels are breached. Not only does this prevent breaches, it also provides proof of compliance over time.
A New Way of Owning Equipment?
Whether pumps are purchased or hired, the manufacturer relies on the sales of pumps and parts and charging for servicing to stay in business. This perversely creates a situation where there is no incentive for a manufacturer to provide longer-lasting components or machinery, as the quicker it wears out the more revenue is generated. This is bad for the environment, wasteful of materials and time, and costly for the end user.
With our innovations in remote monitoring, predictive maintenance using machine learning, and design improvements to our pumps, Atlantic Pumps have a radical solution which will lead to cost savings and a more sustainable aggregates industry. A site fully registered and monitored can now purchase a complete pumping solution on a per-month or per-tonne of production basis. This gives the operator complete control of costs, as they are related to production levels, and the peace of mind that pump problems will be readily rectified or even pre-empted and fixed before they occur.
In conclusion, the subject of sustainability is growing in importance for us all and pumps have a greater part to play than we have realised. Only through close collaboration will we be able to fully maximise our response, minimise our impact on the environment and true create a sustainable future for our children.