Improving operational efficiencies in slurry pumping

Flygt 5000 Series submersible pumps reduce the impact of solids.

With slurry pumps, operational and maintenance expenses can rapidly overtake the initial procurement costs. Xylem offers a cost-effective solution.

The concept of total cost of ownership (TCO) is not new to the industrial world. It has been cited as far back as the Napoleonic era, when his engineers would design cannons to increase availability and reduce maintenance between battles.

The study of cradle-to-grave costs of capital equipment is an important one for heavy industries where the initial cost for capital equipment is usually one of the lowest marginal factors for TCO.

Slurry pumping is a prime example of procured capital equipment where operating and maintenance costs can rapidly overtake and exceed the initial procurement cost. Slurry pumps tend to wear over time due to the highly abrasive nature of the product being pumped.

With frequent servicing needs and delayed repairs from the unavailability of spare parts, slurry pumping can quickly become a loss leader in any mineral processing or quarrying plant.

Xylem Water Solutions Australia product and marketing manager for dewatering, Paul Gaby, says the company’s Flygt 5000 Series submersible slurry pumps address many of the common “pain points” associated with slurry pumping, helping to reduce operational costs and improving efficiency.

The 5000 Series submersible pumps cover a wide range of pumps, plus modular systems, for flow rate capacities ranging from 30 to 320 litres per second.

Apart from all components in contact with the slurry being designed with high chrome wear materials, Gaby says the Flygt 5000 Series submersible pumps incorporate design features that reduce the impact of solids on the wear surfaces.

“A key factor when dealing with submersible pumps is to keep the solids in suspension. If that is not done effectively, you end up pumping only dirty water while the sump starts to build up. The personnel are then required to jump into the sump and dig it out manually or dredge it with a Bobcat,” Gaby tells Australian Mining.

The Flygt 5000 Series submersible pumps keep solids in suspension with an agitator or a mixer.


The Flygt 5000 Series submersible pumps come with an agitator or a mixer option so users can keep solids in suspension and ensure that the slurry mix is completely removed.

Flygt pumps are also modular – motors can be mixed and matched with volutes to get the exact performance that is needed, depending on the density of the slurry.

“The design also features enlarged volute to slow down the speed of slurry and reduce its wearing force,” Gaby says.

“A back swept impeller vane ensures homogenous flow and further reduces wear. All of these design considerations ensure longer mean time between the failures (MTBF) and lower the operational expenditure (OPEX).”

Additionally, Gaby says submersible slurry pumps offer certain advantages over vertical sump pumps – also known as cantilever pumps.

“Where most conventional submersible pumps are quite bulky, the Flygt 5000 Series pumps are compact and very easy to install and remove because the motor and the volute form a single integrated unit. This is also beneficial from an occupational health and safety perspective as personnel install or remove the pumps,” he says.

“Moreover, unlike the noisy snoring of the pumps that have their motors on the surface, the submersible pumps, if controlled correctly, are very quiet to operate. A submersible pump is also, by definition, flood-proof so they eliminate any additional work if a mine site is flooded.”

Xylem Australia’s national business development manager – mining, metals & industrial, Ben Attwater, says the company supports customers looking to change their existing slurry pumping infrastructure to gain operational efficiencies.

The company has a network of branches and service centres across Australia and New Zealand that helps customers through change management to swap their conventional slurry pumps with Flygt submersible pumps, while minimally impacting their operations.

“We can help customers from pump selection through to customised designs and spare parts holding to eliminate any servicing headaches,” Attwater says.

“Xylem’s branches also hold a suitable amount of Flygt 5000 Series slurry pumps in their rental fleet for customers looking to hire slurry pumps temporarily or to trial them before a full site installation.”

Attwater says Xylem has conducted several comparative assessments across mines and quarries in Australia that have demonstrated significant OPEX savings with “change management” from cantilever to Flygt submersible slurry pumps.

“The applications of course vary depending on the slurry material being pumped. But in all these assessments, we have demonstrated maintenance cost savings and successful elimination of unplanned downtime, allowing the mines to only service their slurry pumps during scheduled maintenance. That is quite a significant achievement,” he concludes.

This article will appear in the December issue of Australian Mining.

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