A man in work clothes looks at the image of a pump on a tablet.
6 min read

Predictive maintenance for pumps: How can we make it as easy as possible to get started?

Fewer downtimes, greater transparency, lower costs: predictive maintenance of pumps using digital solutions offers unprecedented opportunities for industry. However, companies often lack the skilled workers with experience for its implementation. By leaving remote monitoring of their pumps to the KSB experts, companies can take the first steps into predictive maintenance even without their own specialist personnel.

At first glance, there is nothing to suggest that industrial plants are being monitored in the KSB Guard Monitoring Center: a bright room with spotless carpeting and tables with screens in front of which KSB employees are sitting in jeans and casual shirts.

On one wall hang two flatscreens as big as school blackboards. On them are thin, colourful lines reminiscent of a foetal heart monitor or ECG: these are the temperature and vibration readings of pumps used in waste water treatment plants, water treatment plants or chemical plants that are often hundreds of kilometres away.

"Where our systems are used, it's noisy, it's oily, and things shake and rattle," says Lenard Vorpahl, project manager for digitalisation at KSB. "But you don't notice any of that here."

On one screen, a light blue line jumps upwards and forms regular spikes that gradually become larger: A twelve-year-old pump set in a pumping station of a water supply company is showing increased vibration values that have been rising over the past year – a sure indication of bearing damage.

Savings/optimisations with predictive maintenance
Assistance from a distance – a KSB employee checks the status of a pump on the screen.

Fewer downtimes, lower costs, more reliable planning

The KSB Guard Monitoring Center staff will recommend that the customer replaces the bearing. Of course, that maintenance costs money. But if the damage is not repaired promptly, consequential damage could occur and the repair would become far more expensive. Under certain circumstances, it could lead to an unscheduled interruption to operations – a scenario that every company would like to avoid. 

Repairing damage before it leads to consequential damage, additional costs and, in the worst case, downtime – that sums up predictive maintenance in practice. Twenty percent of the pumps monitored by KSB have already had to be checked or repaired. Five percent of the pumps even showed abnormalities from the first measurement. "Our monitoring service ensures that our customers experience fewer downtimes, lower costs, better planning of service calls and improved stocking of spare parts for their pumps, as well as other machines," Vorpahl explains.

The fact that measures for predictive maintenance bring tangible benefits to companies is also confirmed by a study conducted by the BearingPoint management and technology consultancy in 2021. According to this, 49 percent of the companies surveyed in Germany have already implemented corresponding projects. On average, these led to reductions of more than ten percent in cost drivers such as machinery and plant downtime as well as maintenance and service costs or stocks of spare parts.

No wonder digitalisation is a top priority for many companies. But a major obstacle for them is the shortage of skilled workers. According to a study by the Relayr management consultancy, a lack of qualified personnel with digitalisation expertise is a problem for 55 percent of companies when it comes to implementing their digitalisation projects.

A problem that Vorpahl is well aware of. "That's why we not only give companies tools to check pumps for noticeable vibrations and temperature rises, but our KSB Guard Monitoring Center also takes care of monitoring pumps remotely," he says.

Dovetailing of digitalisation and service

Companies can thus enter the world of predictive maintenance even without their own digitalisation experts and also reduce the workload for their own maintenance teams. Instead of pure data, customers thus receive concrete information about the condition of their pumps, together with recommendations for maintenance action. They can then hand over the operation and maintenance of pumps completely to KSB and concentrate on their core business. 

"This integration of digitalisation and service is the real gamechanger for companies. With the KSB Guard Monitoring Center, we are the first mover on the market, not only offering customers a product, but also the right service to go with it."

KSB Guard makes this possible. The solution consists of a sensor unit that is simply attached to the pump casing with liquid adhesive. A mobile network gateway installed nearby with adhesive strips or cable ties establishes a wireless connection to the KSB Cloud. Since KSB Guard provides its own Internet access and processes all data in the cloud, there is no need to adapt the corporate IT system. 

It's not just pumps that can be monitored with it: "You can use KSB Guard on all machines that move and rotate, such as compressors, mixers or fans," says Vorpahl. 

KSB Guard is particularly worthwhile for pumps that were never intended to be equipped with sensors. "KSB Guard was developed for existing systems," Vorpahl adds. The system was designed to be used with pumps from any year or manufacturer.  "It's often the older pumps for which monitoring is particularly useful," says Vorpahl. Some of the pumps monitored by KSB Guard even date back to the 1960s. 

"KSB pumps can last for decades," says Vorpahl. "This long service life can also become a welcome problem – for which KSB Guard offers solutions," says the expert with a smile.

Quickly installed – KSB Guard on the casing of a pump

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