Save the Pump Save the World

The RCM Standard, SAE JA1011, emphasizes the need for facilitators and analysis teams to list all of the functions of the asset or asset system. This refers specifically to all primary and secondary functions.

Secondary functions (or passive functions) are all other functions that users require of their assets not included in the primary function.

One of the categories given as a guide for defining secondary functions is that of Efficiency / Economy. It has been the experience of the author that trainee Analysts sometimes overlook this category as they struggle to understand it.

The Miriam-Webster online dictionary defines Efficient as being “productive without waste”, and Economical as “operating with little waste or at a saving”.

Efficiency generally describes the amount of effort it takes to produce “work” as compared to the effort it should optimally take, defining unnecessary additional effort as waste.

In the context of physical asset management, this specifically refers to the ability of the asset to perform its required functions with a minimum of waste in terms of energy, motion, capital, or consumable usage (i.e. Spare Parts, Oil or Chemicals).

As such, this function category can often have a significant impact on the direct costs of performing maintenance, and of operating machinery.

Perhaps the most pressing area of action on inefficiency is that of energy usage.

In 2006, the government of the United Kingdom published The Stern Review[i]. Authored by economist Sir Nicholas Stern it provided the first critical analysis of the future impacts of global warming in purely economic terms.

The 700-page review painted a frightening future, with predictions of shrinkage of the global economy by around 20%, and the creation of up to 200 million refugees due to flood and drought.

However, it also noted that there was still time to avert the potential disaster if there was an urgent global response to it.

In particular, the review highlighted the need for urgent action to address the emission of greenhouse gases, as a means of averting some of the worst aspects of global warming.

Figure 1 - The Impacts of Greenhouse Gas Emissions on Global Warming

Figure 1 shows some potential results of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and correlates these with the potential rise on temperature. As a result we can clearly see that if we continue along the present path then we are risking a possible temperature change of >5 degrees C, with disastrous results.

In the face of such forecasts, people often feel powerless to do anything about it. The problem is so big and we are merely maintainers in a plant somewhere.

However, the truth of the matter is that we have an almost unique capability to influence this issue directly. Principally through optimizing energy usage, thus driving down our contribution to CO2 emissions.

Pumps present a particularly interesting challenge. For example, they are the single largest user of electricity in Industry in the European Union, consuming 160 TWhpa of electricity, accounting for 79 Mton CO2.[ii]

Globally they account for around 20% of the worlds energy demand and approximately 20-25% of the energy demand from most industrial plants. [iii]

A pump’s efficiency can degrade as much as 10% to 25% before replacement, according to a study of industrial facilities commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and efficiencies of 50% to 60% or lower are quite common. [iv]

Even at the lower levels, this represents a dramatic potential for CO2 reductions, as well as direct cost savings in most cases.

However, these inefficiencies are not readily apparent so maintainers often overlook opportunities to save energy by repairing or replacing components and optimizing systems.

[i] The Stern Review can be found at

[ii] Page 4, Study on improving the Energy Efficiency of Pumps, European Commission, February 2001

[iii] Page 3, Pump Life Cycle Costs: A Guide to LCC Analysis for Pumping Systems, a collaboration between the Hydraulic Institute, Europump, and the US Department of Energy’s Office of Industrial Technologies (OIT).

[iv] Pumping Systems Tip Sheet #4, September 2005, DOE, USA