Atlas Copco pumps make a splash

Atlas Copco has become a one-stop-shop for its pump range.

Atlas Copco’s dewatering pump range has continued to grow throughout Australia’s mining operations as the company looks to electrify its line-up.

Having an inefficient water management system can be detrimental to the uptime of a mine site.

Dewatering pumps play a key part in this system, and a breakdown could be crucial to the profitability of an operation.

Atlas Copco, a brand most notable for its range of compressors, generators and lighting towers, entered the water management space six years ago with its line of dewatering pumps.

The company’s pump journey began back in 2007 after the purchase of Dynapac. 

With the Dynapac acquisition came the WEDA range of submersible pumps. 

After time selling the WEDA pumps, it became apparent to Atlas Copco that the market for pumps was far bigger than just submersibles and that the company’s portfolio needed to increase if it was to be serious about the market. 

This realisation led Atlas Copco on a fast-paced journey into the dewatering segment. 

In 2016, Atlas Copco acquired pump designer and manufacturer Varisco, which has since taken Atlas Copco’s dewatering business from strength to strength, and put it on the map as a serious global player in the dewatering segment.

“Varisco was a globally-renowned supplier of dewatering and fluid movement solutions; we purchased them for their wet end technology,” Atlas Copco Australia business line manager – power technique, John Fitzpatrick, tells Australian Mining.

For the Australian market, Atlas Copco decided to make its dewatering pumps a direct specialised business around three years ago, Fitzpatrick continues.

“We very quickly learned that pumps are different to compressors and generators; pumps are best sold by pump people. From there on, it’s been going from strength to strength,” he says.

Today, the company’s dewatering pump range features small and large electric submersibles, including drainage, sludge and slurry, a full range of diesel centrifugal pumps in both self and wet prime configuration, and shortly also a range of high head pumps.

According to Fitzpatrick, this extensive range is well received in the Australian market.

“Our pump demand has been very strong from an Australian point of view,” Fitzpatrick says. 

“Over the last two years, we’ve developed the range to deliver Australianised pump products specifically tailored for Australian conditions. 

“This has ensured we were able to meet customer requirements and grow the business in Australia and New Zealand very successfully.”

Atlas Copco pumps are used for dewatering as well as sludge and slurry applications, with the company keeping a close eye on pump reliability to ensure maximum uptime is achieved.

This is demonstrated by the Atlas Copco WEDA electric submersible dewatering pumps, which can be used for drainage, sludge and slurry applications, and are up to 40 per cent lighter in weight compared with other pumps.

“These are some of the lightest products on the market due to the aluminium casing,” Fitzpatrick says. “We find customers are happy with the WEDA pumps because it is lightweight but still retains strong performance.”

“When required, given the majority of the key products in our range are fitted with Kensho smart controllers and electronic engines, our pumps are capable of operating in the remotest of areas with a high level of autonomy. 

“This technology coupled with the quality expected from Atlas Copco will ensure the pump starts or stops first time every time, making sure the site is dewatered.

“Due to the nature of the dewatering pump, quite often our pumps will work in some of the remotest areas, it’s therefore important to our customers that the reliability is there so there is minimal downtime, and a reassurance that the product will do its job as and when required, because when a pump stops, water, stress levels and costs all rise.”

Fitzpatrick says Atlas Copco has focused on being a one-stop-shop for its pump range to make it easier for customers by dealing with only one company for dewatering products in a large section of applications.

“We can offer a pump for any solution and we’ve found that customers like to come to one supplier,” he says.

The company designs its pumps to be mobile, allowing them to easily move from site to site. However, this does not compromise performance, which Fitzpatrick says is a standout attribute for its pump range. 

“We tend to have a smaller footprint and lighter weight than other products in the market, offering space savings on site and improved logistics,” Fitzpatrick says.

Atlas Copco’s high head pump range is the next series of products heading to the Australian market. The high head pumps offer a solid performance in head of up to 150 metres.

“High head pumps were a missing piece in our range when it comes to dewatering in mining,” Fitzpatrick explains. 

“Given the nature of mining it is often a requirement to move water up and out of the mines and the head required is much greater than when moving water from one place to another generally.”

“The next step for Atlas Copco is to continue our development in electric pump technology.

“We currently offer the widest range of variable speed drive, electrically-driven portable compressors available on the market and see the demand for this technology increasing all the time,” Fitzpatrick says.

“Electric pumps will also offer versatile performance while delivering strong efficiency through reduced energy consumption and fuel costs with zero noise or emissions.” 

“We have to be realistic and look at how the world is moving.

“Take car manufacturers as an example, many major players in this space are saying they will not produce vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2030, so we definitely see a global shift in electrification.”

Atlas Copco is also readying its launch of energy storage solutions for the Australian market 

“Atlas Copco will continue to innovate new and different solutions for existing applications and markets as that is what we do. It’s about being future ready,” Fitzpatrick says.

“We are a very progressive company that takes environmental issues very seriously and when it comes to product development, we are always thinking about what is next. 

“For sure the future of our industry is exciting, in my opinion the site of tomorrow will look very different.”  

This story also appears in the August issue of Australian Mining.

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