SPP Pumps invests in high-capacity test well facility

SPP Pumps has invested in a multi-million pound upgrade to the test facility at its headquarters in Coleford, Gloucestershire, allowing for quicker and more rigorous testing of pumps and systems, in an more efficient and cost-effective way than ever before.

Cost-effective pump testing services

The new state-of-the-art facility boasts a 6 m test well, with capacity to hold one million litres of water. It is equipped with everything required to handle the testing of between 120 and 150 different pumps or complete systems each year, covering all industry sectors.

SPP Pumps Test Engineer, Jamie Lightly, explains the reasoning behind this investment: “A customer buying pump equipment has to be certain it will meet strict performance criteria specified in the contract. Testing takes time and money, but by housing all the appropriate facilities, we can reduce cost, avoid delays and ensure the most top quality pumps.”

Specifications are largely defined in terms of a pump’s duty point, which is in turn specified according to the relationship between head (the height to which water can be pumped which also relates to the pressure the pump can generate) and flow rate. A test procedure is drawn up to verify that the equipment meets all performance criteria agreed between the customer and SPP, typically with reference to ISO standards. The test team then creates a set of pump curves (flow rate versus pressure) and assesses the energy efficiency under a range of demanding conditions.

Continuing investment

Along with the well itself, the associated test facilities at Colefield have also been upgraded. An increased power supply now allows testing of very large pump motors, rated up to 2 MW. A new test console is linked to a variety of starter drives, including soft start motors, using a range of voltages.

Other future plans include a new facility, on the same site, for testing flow rates of up to 3500 l/sec. Government funding will help towards its construction and SPP is investing now to pave the way for this development.

Pumping systems for the oil and gas industry

SPP can provide diesel engines or electric motors to drive the pumps under test, but often, a whole pumpset complete with power unit and all other components is tested. “In the oil and gas sector, for example, a pumping system may consist of several sub-assemblies containing equipment from different manufacturers,” says Jamie Lightly. 

“Each item needs to be approved, even down to things like the cabling. There is scope for problems such as incorrect wiring together of components, so our role includes project management to ensure the system works as a whole and to fix issues if necessary. SPP’s understanding of all industry sectors is essential to bringing such issues to light and resolving them before pumps are used in the field.”

Among the most demanding systems tested by SPP are large pumpsets, used in the oil and gas industry, which can be worth millions of pounds each and which need to be almost ‘bombproof’. Special considerations include use of non-sparking starter motors, rather than conventional units, if there is potential for gas leaks. The testing for these systems may last around two weeks.

Adapted from a press release by David Bizley

Published on 23/06/2015

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