With quarries being pushed to new depths to meet demand, pumps to manage groundwater are a vital part of a quarry's equipment inventory
Managing groundwater in the quarry is an essential task, which if not done effectively could put valuable construction equipment at risk from flooding.
The importance of having reliable and durable pumps is increasing as quarry operators look to push their sites deeper in place of applying for new permissions. But like all quarrying equipment, there is an increased focus on cost of operation.
"A real focus on fuel costs which means more operators are opting for electric pumps, rather than diesel powered units, which can be automatically switched on and off as the water level rises and lowers," said
"Hydraulic designs have improved to offer high efficiency and last longer in abrasive environments," said
There is no one size fits all and it is essential to select the right pump for the application and match the duty requirements in terms of flow and head." According to Saunders, advances in design are helping to deliver increased pressures and higher heads which mean that quarries can now use just one pump rather than running them in series.
Because pumps can often need to operate continuously, noise is sometimes an issue, especially where a quarry is located close to residential properties. In these situations, many quarries are limited on the times when they can operate machines, so they need pumps that can operate as quietly as possible.
Godwin has responded to this problem by creating a 'hush pack' which places a muffled container around the pump to reduce noise emissions. Saunders said that he expects demand for quieter pumps to grow in the next few years as the need to reduce noise becomes more critical.
Both Saunders and Sedgewick agree that the fundamental design of pumps is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future although there may be 'tweaking' of designs to offer performance improvements. They both believe that more significant developments will come from using more advanced, new materials for the manufacture of the pumps.
"Addition of rubber to pumps has helped to reduce wear, particularly for sand and gravel applications," said Sedgewick. "Silicon carbide pump glands have been a significant development." Saunders said that use of chromium steel impellors has also improved solids handling. He added, "The next focus will be reducing the weight of the units for improved handling. This may include looking at different alloys and could be available within three years "Other developments are likely to centre on improved telemetry and remote communication with pumps.
At the moment the acceptance of automatic level controls and text message alert in case of failure is growing, but with in future it may be possible to carry out settings changes from a remote location."