Industry Outlook: Pushing the Slurry!!

What’s part liquid and part solid and can restrict flow or speed it up? If you answered “slurry” you would be absolutely correct. A slurry is a combination of separated solids and liquids such as mud and cement. They are used as a medium to transport as much solids as possible, hydraulically.
Slurries have numerous characteristics and just because they are made of liquids does not mean we can always assume they will flow the same way water does. As they are used all over the world and are exposed to different pressures and altitudes, the following question comes to mind: How are they directed? The answer: Slurry pumps are tasked with handling that job.

By Andre Gafford, Sr. Partner, DeLeon Business Consulting Group

The three main types of pumps that are used for slurry 

• Horizontal slurry pumps
• Vertical slurry pumps
• Submersible slurry pumps

Horizontal slurry pumps are often called dry mounted 
because the hydraulic end and the drive unit are located 
outside the sump. It is the most common type of slurry 
pump and they are available for a wide range of head 
and flow conditions and material options. Vertical 
slurry pumps are dry mounted, such as a tank pump 
or semi dry mounted as seen with cantilever pumps. 
Submersible pumps are able to be inserted into the 
slurry and facilitate pumping from the source.

Global demand for fluid handling pumps is projected to increase 5.5 per cent annually to USD $84 billion in 2018. The Asia/Pacific region will remain the largest market and the second fastest growing, behind Central and South America. The key positive displacement and centrifugal pump segments will offer the best growth opportunities. The global demand for submersible pumps is increasing due to infrastructural development activities worldwide. Governments of developing countries such as China and India are focusing on urbanization, industrialization and agricultural development, which is expected to drive demand for submersible pumps in the region. Demand for submersible pumps is expected to remain significant from agriculture and wastewater treatment industries throughout the forecast period of 2016-2026. Development of new sources of potable water and small and medium scale industrial development are further expected to push the demand for submersible pumps over the forecast period. 

The global submersible pumps market is segmented into North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific Excluding Japan (APEJ), Middle East & Africa and Japan. APEJ has been estimated to dominate the global submersible pumps market and is expected to account for 36.1 per cent market share in terms of revenue in 2016. The APEJ submersible pumps market is estimated to reach a market value of USD $ 5,749.5 million by the end of 2026 from USD $ 2,832.3 million in 2016, expanding at a CAGR of 7.3 per cent during the forecast period. The North America submersible pumps market is expected to reach a market value of USD $ 2,437.0 million by the end of 2026, registering a CAGR of 5.5 per cent over the forecast period. Sales revenue of the submersible pumps market in North America and Western Europe was collectively estimated to be 37.9 per cent in 2016. 

With such a large demand, you would think that there has been a major innovation in this product over the past 50 years. However, that has not been the case, until now. Constant fluctuation in major markets has created the need to go further than just providing a quality product. TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) reduction is the focus for most, if not all, slurry pump manufacturers. They are now striving for longer wear life, improved efficiency, lower power consumption throughout the product lifecycle and improved safety during maintenance. You must take all of the ancillary components of the pump: warranty, installation, downtime, maintenance and training, to get a true picture of the costs. Most important of all is uptime – how long can the pump run and be productive? Premature pump failure can bring an entire plant to a halt, resulting in production losses which should be factored into the pump’s true cost.

You achieve that by engineering greater wear protection from erosion and corrosion. The choice of wear parts is a balance between resistance to wear and cost of wear parts. There are two strategies for resisting wear:

1. The wear material has to be hard enough to resist cutting action of the solids.
2. The wear material has to be elastic enough to be able to absorb the shocks of particles.

Also, pumps should be configured to allow outdated equipment to be upgraded with minimal operational impact and capital output. What this means for the consumers is overall cost savings and efficiency gains. The major players in the global slurry pump market are Metso (Finland), Grundfos (Denmark), Weir Group (UK), KSB (Germany), EBARA Pumps (Italy), Goulds Pumps (USA), Flowserve (USA), Xylem (USA), Schurco Slurry (USA), Tsurumi Pump (Korea), Shijiazhuang Industrial Pump (China), Shijiazhuang Kingda Pump (China), LEO Group (China), Excellence Pump Industry (China) and others, which all have adapted some version of TCO. Because of their commitment to quality, customer service and focus on TCO, we reap major rewards as they push the slurry.

About the Author

Andre Gafford is a Sr. Partner for DeLeon Consulting Group based in Houston, Texas. He has extensive experience in
organizational strategy and refined his skills while working for major O&G and energy companies for over a decade. Organization development, strategic planning, supply chain processes and procedures, as well as increasing operational efficiency while reducing overhead are his areas of concentration.

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