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"We simply cannot keep operating inefficient pump systems for 15 years," said Peter Klaus Kölling. However, the Sales Director at Grundfos Germany is well aware that cost pressure forces engineers to run investments made years ago for as long as possible. "The current low electricity prices worry me," admits Kölling. He fears that too few of the far more energy-efficient pump units are being sold, even though they have long been available.

"But that is short-sighted," continues Kölling. "If companies do not succeed in improving their energy balance, regulatory requirements will be imposed. And nobody will like them."

Universal networking essential for efficiency

Just one state-of-the-art pump will not move the energy efficiency needle significantly. "We need smart plants," says Dr. Thomas Paulus from KSB . Most importantly, they must be networked with one another, share data in the cloud and optimize one another. According to Paulus, there are still very few networked pumps. He believes that there is a lot of catching up to do, but the benefits of doing so include immense potential energy cost savings and a much better carbon footprint. "We need more clarity on what exactly can be achieved," admits Paulus. That is certainly one of the reasons why the willingness to replace older machines is still too low.

Paulus is certain that digital networking can reduce energy consumption markedly, especially in hydraulic systems. Gunther Krei from Yaskawa Europe agrees: "We have already reached efficiencies of 90 percent and more in electric motors. Improvements in this area will be very difficult to achieve." By contrast, whether hydraulic or electric systems: The structures and clouds for data processing have yet to be established. And before we do that, we need to build an awareness, an understanding of the digital future of the pump sector. Krei confirms that the sector "needs to be educated on what Industrie 4.0 is and can do."

However, immediate action is required. According to Krei, one thing is clear: “The electricity prices will rise. We should take precautions at an early stage.