With the fitbit® step-monitoring devices all on overload, daddy needs a new pair of shoes. Much to see and do on day 2 at the KBIS/IBS show, so little time. But the second day was just as good as the first. In fact, attendance numbers were released from the show organizers, and it was all Read more
With the fitbit® step-monitoring devices all on overload, daddy needs a new pair of shoes. Much to see and do on day 2 at the KBIS/IBS show, so little time. But the second day was just as good as the first.
In fact, attendance numbers were released from the show organizers, and it was all good. Approximately 125,000 housing industry professionals packed the aisles at Design & Construction Week. Official attendance for IBS was 55,237, which was 8% higher than last year’s show. More than 1,200 exhibitors filled 478,000 square feet of space with everything from the latest in kitchen and bath design to millwork and marketing services. Overall, Design & Construction Week boasted 3,750 exhibitors and 4.7 million net square feet of exhibit space.
“This has been the best show we have experienced since the economic downturn,” said Jerry Konter, chair of the NAHB Convention and Meetings Committee. “You felt a great energy the moment you hit the show floor, as builders and exhibitors continue to benefit from the recovering economy.”
Let’s take a look at what caught our eye:
When I reached out to Melanie Aldrich to arrange a time to chat, she responded, “I’ll be home all day with a sick two year old. Call anytime.” As a new mother, the thought of meeting another female plumber with kids intrigued me. I knew very little about Melanie Aldrich before our first conversation. The Read more
When I reached out to Melanie Aldrich to arrange a time to chat, she responded, “I’ll be home all day with a sick two year old. Call anytime.” As a new mother, the thought of meeting another female plumber with kids intrigued me. I knew very little about Melanie Aldrich before our first conversation. The fact that Melanie is a female Master Plumber was the extent of my knowledge. After our conversation, I realized I had just communicated with one of the most unique individuals in the country.
Melanie Aldrich did not grow up saying, “I want to be a plumber when I grow up.” In fact, circumstances pushed her towards the trades. At the time she turned to plumbing as a trade, she was a single mother. Having grown up in Brooklyn, Melanie was no stranger to hard work and doing what it took to provide for her family. The trades, for Melanie, served as a way for her to get out of the projects. Twenty five years ago she moved her family to Scranton, Pennsylvania where she obtained her Master Plumber’s License. She was beaming with pride when she shared with me that she was the first female Master Plumber in Scranton.
Nine years ago, Melanie picked up and moved her family to Rhode Island. She started a new life with a new husband and a new business. Melanie Aldrich and Son Plumbing provides residential, commercial and industrial plumbing services all across the great state of Rhode Island. In addition to running a plumbing company, she’s taught at New England Tech and is the President of the Rhode Island Plumbing and Mechanical Inspectors Association.
Having worked in the plumbing industry for decades, I asked Melanie how the trades have changed over the past few decades. She shared that she could only speak to her experience. When she started in the ’80s it was not easy being a girly girl in a manly man’s trade. How did Melanie survive? She worked hard and told the dirtiest jokes. She allowed her workmanship to speak for her and became one of the guys. She remarked, “It felt great to be me.” After decades of hard work she finally feels respected.
Currently, Melanie lives on Rhode Island with her husband and two young children. Melanie is also a grandmother! She beamed with love when speaking about her “awesome husband.” After thirteen years together she feels fortunate that her spouse helps to make their lives easy. While some men might feel threatened by a trades savvy wife, her husband remains supportive and is not the jealous type, which is helpful when you work in a male dominated industry.
Melanie offers this advice to any women looking to pursue a career in trades, “Just do it and know that you can.” Despite obstacles and hardships, Melanie has found a happy life for herself and her family in the trades. She’s working towards becoming a Licensed Plumbing Inspector and loves a new challenge. Melanie is the quintessence of a successful woman in the trades.
With a population of 677, the small town of Harleyville, S.C., located 60 miles northwest of Charleston, was looking to upgrade its aging lift stations to increase efficiencies, lower utility costs and reduce overall pump maintenance for its municipal wastewater facility. The town employed six lift stations—five of which utilized grinder pump systems from 1985—to Read more
With a population of 677, the small town of Harleyville, S.C., located 60 miles northwest of Charleston, was looking to upgrade its aging lift stations to increase efficiencies, lower utility costs and reduce overall pump maintenance for its municipal wastewater facility.
The town employed six lift stations—five of which utilized grinder pump systems from 1985—to consolidate wastewater and pump it to a centralized wastewater processing and treatment plant.
The 25-year-old lift stations each suffered frequent clogging, expensive maintenance and repair, and skyrocketing monthly utility bills related to extended pump run times. In fact, the reliability of the entire wastewater transfer system seemed to derail every three to six months, when a pump outright failed or a station backed up because the pumps were unable to keep up with demand.
Working with global engineering consultant URS Corporation, the town began its system update by retrofitting one lift station with energy-efficient wastewater pumps from Grundfos. The improvement was dramatic and led to upgrades at two additional lifting stations. As a result, Harleyville has reduced energy use by 35 percent and cut $25,000 in annual maintenance and repair expenditures.
Efficient Pumps Slash Run Times; Energy Use
“Due to the greater pumping capacity of the Grundfos SLV pumps, the station’s run time dropped by roughly 80 percent,” said Dan Huggins, P.E., project manager, URS Corporation, who noted that peak pump operation fell from an average of 18 hours per day to 3.5 hours per day (factoring in median rainfall and infiltration amounts).
The additional pump capacity combined with the reliability of the SLV Series’ pumps made an immediate impact on the trouble-plagued system.
“Since power consumption accounts for 85 percent of a pump’s life-cycle costs, likely the most dramatic savings for this project is the ability to maximize pumping performance, across each lift station,” noted Robert Pruit, principal of Carolina Pumpworks, who worked with engineer Huggins to incorporate the SLV pumps. “Some of the town’s outdated pumps were running nearly non-stop during increased flow events to keep the wet wells from overflowing. For example, when rainfall swelled the volume of flow into the town’s sewer lines, both of the pumps at each of the individual lift stations would typically run for extended periods of time to deal with the increased flow.”
Added Capacity & Redundancy
In all, the three newly upgraded duplex lift stations each feature two 5.5 HP, 1,750 RPM three-phase pumps that alternate operation according to the station’s level control system, which offers both system redundancy and added capacity during increased flow events. To overcome prior difficulties with pumps clogging, the team selected the optional SuperVortex impeller, to help ensure that solids up to 3-inches in diameter pass freely through the solids-handling pump without jamming.
Carolina Pumpworks also provided custom-designed control panels to meet Harleyville’s requirements. The control panels included the Grundfos IO113 pump monitor relays, that together with the pump sensors, provides more protection against thermal overload and seal leakage.
The transformation began in October 2011 when—with the aid of state grants— the town installed its first SLV pump system at Pump Station 5 as a retrofit application.
“The old pumps frequently clogged and the resulting motor stress forced a pump removal—and repair— roughly every six months,” recalls Harleyville Maintenance Superintendent Tommy Weeks. “Pump maintenance for this station alone was running nearly $4,000 a year.”
Designed to handle raw unscreened sewage, effluent and process water in municipal applications, the SLV series pump with its recessed super vortex impeller was an ideal solution for the initial lift station retrofit. The upgraded Lift Station 5 has been operating maintenance-free from its initial start-up in 2011 without a single incident of clogging.
“These new pumps have really helped mitigate any maintenance costs that we have had in the past due to pump ‘burn-out’ and clogging,” explained Weeks. “In addition, these pumps help reduce build-up in the gravity lines because they pump more volume more quickly. After more than three years and 2,000 hours run time under Station 5’s belt, the pumps have proven themselves to be ‘solid performers’ and the ideal solution for our wastewater system.”
In fact, the pump’s performance was so dramatic that URS project engineer Dan Huggins knew that when the time came to rebuild Lift Station 4—the weakest link in the town’s wastewater system—they would tailor the station around the Grundfos SLV pumps.
State Funding Leads to Additional Pump Upgrades
Due to the success of Lift Station 5, when more state funding became available in 2013, Harleyville upgraded two additional lift stations with the SLV submersible pumps. Both projects were up and running by December 2013.
The original 4-foot wet well at Lift Station 4 was too small for the raw sewage intake and required a complete overhaul. The pumps in Station 4, which serves 250 people, were running nearly continuously in an attempt to keep up with the sewage flow. As a result, the station lost a pump to repairs roughly every three months, resulting in an annual maintenance cost of $15,000.
Following completion of the Lift Station 4, a local hotel and an apartment complex were constructed nearby. The high performing lifting station has not faltered in managing the increased sewage flow from these facilities.
Speaking on the importance of receiving grant money for the new Lift Station 4, Mayor Charles Ackerman said, “This grant money will let us build a whole new lift station and reroute the force main to a different manhole, which will save us time and energy. We desperately need this; we’ve had a lot of problems with that station. It has a lot of water coming into it, a lot of sewage. This will be a tremendous help to the town.”
Following the reconstruction of Lift Station 4, the town upgraded an additional lift station with two similar Grundfos SLV series pumps. Like the other aging lift stations in the Harleyville system, the outdated pumps in Lift Station 2 required service every six to seven months.
Tommy Weeks, the town’s maintenance superintendent, estimates that the new pumps at Lift Station 2 will eliminate approximately $4,000 in annual maintenance costs.
Putting Repairman Out of Business
The goal moving forward for Harleyville will be to upgrade the remaining lift stations with the SLV pumps, when more state funding becomes available.
“We’ve come a long way to ensuring the integrity and operational efficiencies of our wastewater system,” concludes Weeks. “There are zero maintenance costs or issues with the new pumps. I chuckle each time the repairman—accustomed to a significant amount of business from us—calls to ask when we think one of the pumps will be in for repair.”
In 1862, while prospecting for what was thought to be a vast deposit of silver and gold, John Searles made a serendipitous discovery in this unforgiving and isolated area located southwest of Death Valley. Borax and other minerals so plentiful, that the engineer complained they would interfere with refining the long sought, but never unearthed Read more
In 1862, while prospecting for what was thought to be a vast deposit of silver and gold, John Searles made a serendipitous discovery in this unforgiving and isolated area located southwest of Death Valley. Borax and other minerals so plentiful, that the engineer complained they would interfere with refining the long sought, but never unearthed, metal ore.
Within a decade, a borax mining business was formed at what is now known as Searles Dry Lake, a depository rich with useful chemicals and minerals that serve a wide variety of industrial and agricultural needs. Brine from these salt layers is today’s source of sodium, potassium, borate, carbonate and sulfate, which are processed in facilities that trace their lineage back to John Searles’ San Bernardino Borax Mining Company.
From a modest production of a few tons of borax per month in 1873, Searles Valley Minerals (SVM) today ships more than 1.7 million tons annually, as well as hundreds of thousands of tons of high-grade mineral products to major manufacturers in 52 countries. These products are used in the manufacture of everything from automobile windshields and laundry detergents, to flat screen televisions, fire retardants and fiberglass insulation.
Unlike other mining techniques such as open pit and underground mining, Searles Valley use a unique, ecologically-friendly process called Warm Solution Mining (WSM), wherein a leaching solution—in this case brine—is pumped into the mineral deposit field, where it dissolves the ore content, which is pumped to the surface and processed. The extraction process is made possible in part through a custom-designed, industrial-grade pumping station from Grundfos that accommodates the aggressive and continuously changing brine solution chemistry, not to mention the extreme temperatures that can send the mercury rising to 120-130 F.
“The company’s mining processes are subject to some of the harshest conditions – extreme desert temperatures and caustic solutions – and therefore the pumping systems that support these systems need to be highly reliable and efficient,” recalls Milt Bachman, president of Delta Pump Systems, a California-based industrial distributor specializing in pump design and specifications. “Variable speed pumping combinations had failed the extreme operating conditions in the past, and Searles management was looking for a more dependable, engineered solution.”
The extraction process begins at Searles Dry Lake, a 125-mile square mineral field that contains nearly 200 vertical wells that are fueled by thousands of submersible and vertical turbine pumps that range from 3 to 50 HP and generate nearly 14,000 gpm. The pumps carry thousands of gallons of brine solution from one reservoir or lake bed to another, and the eventual transfer of the mineral-rich brine into holding tanks.
The application’s unique challenges— both in terms of extreme operating conditions, as well as the required variable pumping volumes— led Searles’ Operations Engineer, David Hakim, to search for a more efficient and cost-efficient solution.
Hakim sought out Delta Pump Systems’ Milt Bachman and the Grundfos Engineered Systems (GES) group to help him brainstorm a new, integrated pumping process during the spring of 2012. The GES team works with clients to develop one-of-a-kind, custom-engineered pumping systems that integrate engineering, intelligent controls and the most efficient pump types and technologies available for a specific application.
In the case of the Searles Valley Minerals Company, Hakim deployed the Grundfos CU 352 controller to manage the energy efficient PACO horizontal split case pumps, intelligent pump control logic, and the robust Danfoss variable frequency drives. This new pumping station design allowed for the ability to monitor real-time flows, pressures, and temperatures in one location.
“The integrated GES systems approach that SVM envisioned was critical in developing a pumping system that helped increase production reliability, boost mineral yield, and reduce energy costs,” explains Wil Wilkes, regional industrial business sales manager for Denmark-based Grundfos. “Likely the single most important aspect of the new system is the ability to embed the operation’s existing pump curve data to maximize pumping performance and energy use by operating solely at the equipment’s best efficiency point.
In other words, Wilkes explains, because the Grundfos controller “knows” the application’s required flow, as well as the equipment’s optional performance level, the system can make real-time efficiency decisions that can significantly impact energy consumption. For example, the software and integrated monitoring features can instantly determine if it would be more efficient to run two pumps at 50 percent capacity, or one pump at top speed, or any combination therein, Wilkes notes.
According to Wilkes, this competitive advantage allows Grundfos to match pump output with actual demand—without additional external sensors, flow meters and voltage monitors—that for the Searles’ application, was integral in creating an intuitive pumping solution.
Intelligent Pumping Solution
The Grundfos design team drew from multiple pumping technologies in order to deliver a solution to meet SVM’s varying production demands and application conditions.
The pump station ensures the pressure and flow remains constant on a 24/7 basis, operating at 13,800 GPM at 45 PSIG discharge pressure with an inlet pressure of 20 PSIG. The pumping media consists of brine heated to 130F with a 10-12% NaCl concentration, a formula which requires that the pump seals be mechanically flushed regularly with 160-180F solution to eliminate brine crystallization (the media will congeal below 90F).
The main pump skid consists of four 100 HP PACO-brand KP horizontal double suction, split case pumps—each weighing in at more than half a ton—that provide 85 percent design efficiency. The split-case design offers better efficiency and operating performance compared to other designs, as well as easy access to the pump components (bearings, wear rings, impeller, and shaft seal) without disturbing the motor or pipe work. The inboard and outboard mechanical seals remain serviceable without having to remove the top casing. This key design element — servicing the units without interrupting the production process — was pivotal in the team’s selection of this pump series.
In addition to the IEEE 841 severe duty motors to-power the pump station, the system upgrade required the company to install industrial grade coatings for the piping and pump casing and to house the operation in a climate-controlled enclosure to help mitigate high ambient temperatures and hydrogen sulfide gas intrusion. The design team also worked to modify existing piping runs to accommodate the 24-inch-diameter piping and pump headers necessary for the increased volume and additional system monitoring and instrumentation.
“The new industrial pump station provides the necessary operational pressure and flow to inject the brine solution effectively into the salt formation,” said Hakim. “All pumping is controlled and carefully managed to maximize mining production demands and overall efficiencies of the operation.”
Integrated Pressure Boosting System
Ideal for the Searles Valley Minerals application, the BoosterpaQ integrated pumping system utilizes an advanced controller that along with variable frequency drive (VFD) controlled motors, adjust pump speed and number of pumps in operation to meet frequently changing system demand.
At SVM, the BoosterpaQ provides constant pressure with variable flow based on discharge and inlet pressure transducer inputs via PID controlled, 100 HP variable frequency drives. Pumping logic—algorithms and controls—is based on pump performance and become more nuanced with pressure and flow differential.
The overall feedback of the GES system has been overwhelmingly positive thus far. According to Hakim’s analytics, the current savings compared to the previous constant speed pump station is $3,500/month with a two-year payback. “We have set a precedent for future pump stations,” said Hakim.
Three top plumbing apprentices received awards in the annual Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors–National Association (PHCC) Educational Foundation’s Plumbing Apprentice Contest, held Oct. 9 in New Orleans, La. The Foundation’s Plumbing Apprentice and Journeyman Training Committee members were on hand to set up and judge the contest, which was a highlight of the PHCC–National Association’s CONNECT 2014 Product Read more
Three top plumbing apprentices received awards in the annual Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors–National Association (PHCC) Educational Foundation’s Plumbing Apprentice Contest, held Oct. 9 in New Orleans, La.
The Foundation’s Plumbing Apprentice and Journeyman Training Committee members were on hand to set up and judge the contest, which was a highlight of the PHCC–National Association’s CONNECT 2014 Product & Technology Showcase.
This year’s awards went to:
- 1st Place – Tyler Arndt, Arndt & Son Plumbing, Brooklyn, Wis.
- 2nd Place – Nathan Boggs, S. D. Boggs Co., Inc., Virginia Beach, Va.
- 3rd Place – Alexa Serafinn, UA Local 99, Bloomington, Ill.
Foundation volunteers operating this year’s event included:
- J. Daniel Crigler, III, L & D Associates, Inc., Aroda, Va.
- Laurie Crigler, L & D Associates, Inc., Aroda, Va.
- Tom Gent, France Mechanical Corp., Edwardsville, Ill.
- Victor Hatcher, Tyler Pipe & Coupling, Tyler, Texas
- Rich Kerzetski, Universal Plumbing & Heating Co., Las Vegas, Nev.
- Harold Moret, Copper Development Association, Sarasota, Fla.
- Vic Poma, Universal Plumbing & Heating Co., Las Vegas, Nev.
- Dale Powell, Copper Development Assn., Gettysburg, Pa.
- Jim Steinle, Atomic Plumbing, Virginia Beach, Va.
- James Walls, Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute, Garland, Texas
- Luke Westman, Westman Plumbing, Inc., Aitkin, Minn.
The event was made possible by the following generous industry sponsors:
Headline Sponsors: A. O. Smith Water Products Co.; Channellock; Coburn Supply Co.; Copper Development Association, Inc.; Delta Faucet Company; Uponor; and Viega, LLC.
Contestant Sponsors: AB&I Foundry; A. O. Smith Water Products Co.; BrassCraft Manufacturing Co.; Cengage Learning; Channellock; Coburn Supply Co.; Copper Development Association, Inc.; Delta Faucet Co.; KOHLER Company; Legend Valve; Milwaukee Electric Tool Co.; NIBCO, Inc.; Reed Manufacturing Co.; RIDGID; Sioux Chief Manufacturing Co.; State Water Heaters; Tyler Pipe & Coupling; Uponor; and Viega, LLC.
Additional prize and materials sponsors included: AB&I Foundry; Atomic Plumbing; Bemis Manufacturing Co.; BrassCraft Manufacturing Co.; Caddy; Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute; Channellock; Charlotte Pipe & Foundry; Coburn Supply Co.; Copper Development Association, Inc.; Delta Faucet Company; Holdrite; KOHLER Company; Legend Valve; Milwaukee Electric Tool Co.; Mission Rubber Co.; NIBCO, Inc.; Oatey; Reed Manufacturing Co.; RIDGID; Rothenberger USA; Sioux Chief Manufacturing Co.; Techsource Tools; Tyler Pipe; and Viega, LLC.
About PHCC Educational Foundation
The PHCC Educational Foundation, a partnership of contractors, manufacturers, and wholesalers, was founded in 1987 to serve the plumbing-heating-cooling industry by preparing contractors and their employees to meet the challenges of a constantly changing marketplace. For more information contact a member of the Foundation staff at (800) 533-7694 or visit