The Elements: How to Gain a Clear View of Your Pump System

How a Piping System Works

In last month’s ESI News Brief, we discussed why there is resistance to implementing Pump System Improvement programs.  Pump systems touch a wide variety of disciplines and departments within an operating plant making it difficult for everyone involved to gain a clear understanding of how a piping system operates.

This month, we will look at a piping system; first at the individual items, then the total system to see how they work together.  Finally, we’ll see how to describe the operation of the system so everyone in the plant can visualize how the system operates.

Figure 1 shows a demineralized water supply system consisting of a pump, two tanks, a water treatment unit, pipelines, and a control valve.  System elements are grouped into three general categories based on how the energy is utilized.


The pump element and drive add hydraulic energy to the system and is the only element adding hydraulic energy to the system.

The process elements consist of the equipment needed to create the product or provide the service.  Hydraulic energy is consumed when the fluid is moved through the process element to make demineralized water. 

The control valve regulates the flow rate through the system to improve the product quality and improve the system’s efficiency. 

The system is designed to produce 600 gpm of demineralized water that is used throughout the plant.  The drawing shows the elevations, levels, and pressures in the Raw Water and Demineralized Water tanks.  The distribution piping to the end users providing demineralized water to plant loads is not shown in this drawing.

Now that we have a good idea of how the system operates, we’ll evaluate each element in the system starting with the pump.