Customer Story Pentair & Inventflow

Pentair | X-Flow, the company

X-flow was founded in 1984 at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, where they developed a revolutionary method of making high-quality hollow fiber membranes that offer unparalleled quality and robustness.

As the international membrane brand of Pentair, a global leader in water, fluid, thermal management and equipment protection, X-Flow addresses some of the world's most pressing problems, such as food, water and energy management, using innovative filtration products, services and technologies.

Membrane filtration is a technology that purifies liquids by separating unwanted particles, even at the molecular level. Pentair has a rich history in membrane development and has delivered continuous innovation resulting in a range of competitive technologies used for potable water production, wastewater recycling, process water purification and industrial applications in the food, beverage and and pharmaceutical sector.

X-Flow supplies its state-of-the-art membrane technology to OEMs, partners and contractors worldwide through an extensive distribution network. It's inspiring to see how these amazing technologies and services are making a positive impact on our world and helping to address the most pressing issues of our time.

“At X-Flow, we believe that membrane technology is essential in purification and filtration processes, now and in the future. We support our partners to exceed expectations with membranes that make a difference, even in the most challenging tasks and conditions. Focusing on practical and economic progress, we develop filtration technology with the lowest total cost of ownership and the highest efficiency.”

Pentair & Inventflow

The collaboration is aimed at optimizing pump production processes and has led to impressive results. We have the pleasure of meeting Henry Hamberg, Maintenance Engineer at Pentair, and looking back on this intensive collaboration.

Together we spent a lot of time on pump selections and improving pump maintenance. It is clear that the collaboration between Pentair and Inventflow has led to significant improvements in pump technology. We are excited to see the innovations that will emerge from this collaboration and how they will further transform the industry. What is inspiring to see is that Pentair and Inventflow are focused on improving their products and services to deliver the best results to their customers.

What exactly does Pentair do?

Hamberg explains that Pentair produces membrane filters for the purification of drinking water and process water. This technology is used in the production of beverages, beer, wine and other applications. In addition, we focus on improving plant maintenance and address strategic issues such as how to increase plant availability.

At Pentair, the focus is mainly on ultrafiltration, which removes bacteria and viruses. In the Middle East, for example, the pre-treatment for Reverse Osmosis (RO) processes is done for the treatment of drinking water. It is important that no bacteria or viruses enter the RO system as it cannot be cleaned with chlorine.

How are membranes produced?

Hamberg: “Raw raw materials enter the factory, which are used to make the membrane. These raw materials are checked and then mixed according to a specific recipe. The mixture is used to make membranes that are treated, dried and formed into modules. This process results in high-quality membranes that can be used for various applications such as the purification of drinking water and wastewater treatment.''

Production based on customer wishes?

Hamberg indicates that the membrane produced by Pentair is unique to them. Their founder used to say: “Anyone can make a membrane, but we make our membrane.” Each membrane supplier produces a product with different properties. What makes the X-Flow membrane unique is its permeability, pore size, pore distribution, density, separation capacity, chemical resistance and more. There are many factors that distinguish membranes from each other, making it an interesting topic.

The improvement of pump maintenance

Pentair's technical service is responsible for maintaining the entire plant, from the moment raw materials enter the facility to the last component when the product leaves the plant. It is clear that Pentair attaches great importance to preventive maintenance, in order to minimize the chance of failure of essential components. Pentair and Inventflow started preventive maintenance for pumps in 2020, analyzing which pumps caused the most downtime. Thanks to these insights, we replaced many pumps preventively during two production stops.

It is clear that Pentair is constantly looking for ways to further optimize the maintenance process and improve their production process. One of the Inventflow technicians comes by weekly to perform the analyses. The fact that discussions are now underway about sensor-based condition monitoring shows that Pentair and Inventflow are at the forefront of innovative solutions. Hamberg: ''When we heard about condition monitoring, we immediately wanted to test it as soon as possible.''

With 486 pumps in the factory, it is understandable that Pentair would want to know what the conditions of the pumps are like. Using sensors and stocking replacement parts for critical pumps is a smart move that allows Pentair to eliminate unplanned pump failures.

Condition monitoring with sensors, how does that work?

Hamberg explains that during a conversation with Jos (Account Manager at Inventflow) they were asked if they were open to a sensor pilot. Hamberg expressed interest in participating in the pilot, because if one of their critical pumps fails, the entire process comes to a standstill. "The question was not whether we would do it, but when."

Pentair and Inventflow started the pilot on a 'Try & Buy' basis. 20 Pentair pumps were equipped with ABB Ability Smart Sensors for five months. In these five months, 3556 measurements were taken per sensor, which amounts to 71,120 measurements of temperature, vibration, rpm, starts/stops, acceleration and more.

Jeroen Welles, data analyst at Inventflow, uses this data to monitor the condition of the pumps in real time. By measuring the above properties every hour, trend values are created. In case of major deviations, the customer is immediately informed, in order to find out the cause and prevent calamities.

However, the data also offers other valuable insights. By making connections between the measured data, environmental influences and the pumped medium, a report is drawn up with concrete observations, problems, risks and advice for each pump. With the aim of optimizing pump performance. Pentair is now very satisfied with the results and continues to invest in additional sensors. 

Hamberg: “All pumps were manually analyzed for vibrations every six months. This does not build a trend, and during a snapshot, data can be influenced by external factors. Think, for example, if a forklift with an IBC barrel drives past, this has an influence on vibrations. You can filter all this out with sensors. Your data becomes reliable. We also prevent unnecessary revision and replacement costs. A pump is only overhauled when it is really necessary, which we can determine based on the data.''

Our evaporator is equipped with a 160 kW motor. By placing the sensor, it was noticed that the engine warmed up as soon as it stopped. By installing an extra fan, it now runs 10 degrees lower than before.

Collecting data is not the biggest problem. What matters most is what you do with it. Anyone can notice deviations in graphs, but the question is what you do with those insights. Interpreting and leveraging data requires specialized expertise that is critical.

The importance of standardization

Hamberg emphasizes that standardization of pumps in the process is an important improvement. It is important to prevent a proliferation of different brands and types of pumps, so that it becomes easier to keep spare parts in stock. This also helps in ensuring the quality of the process. We often use Grundfos pumps in our work. We prefer these pumps over cheaper alternatives when purchasing new pumps.

The success behind the collaboration

Hamberg is very pleased with the collaboration with Inventflow. We keep each other sharp and have quarterly meetings where we discuss the data and go through the progress. The lines are short and the advice is always clear. We also make extensive use of the Inventflow Service Center, where we can order parts and build up a maintenance history for each pump. Hamberg: ''In short, a valuable collaboration with which we are very satisfied!''

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