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Pump innovation earns Searcy global honors

City's water plant manager thinks outside the box
By Warren Watkins
The Daily Citizen
International recognition has been given to a local utility employee after his innovative solution to a problem has saved thousands of dollars.
In 2001, Scotty Boggs, water treatment division manager for the Searcy Board of Public Utilities, had an issue with his system.
"If the water quality changed in the river requiring more lime, I needed some way for the operator to walk downstairs and increase or decrease the chemical dosage," Boggs said.
Jeff Porterfield with Calibration Controls in Benton was consulted.
"We told him what we wanted to do and he applied his electrical knowledge to make it happen," Boggs said.
The result was a simple solution, not over-thinking which is typical, Boggs said, of engineers: Timed delay relays and input signal controllers were placed on a parastolic pump with a variable-speed, direct-current motor.
Seven years later, the maker of the pumps is promoting the idea and a Dutch magazine has written a story about the innovation. The company that makes the pumps has started applying some of these ideas into their control systems for their pumps.
"The roller pushes the lime slurry from the mixing tank into the incoming water to adjust the pH," Boggs said. "The only way you can change the pump from the way it comes from the factory is to slow down or speed up this roller."
A parastolic pump is basically a rubber tube bent in the shape of a horseshoe.
"The roller mashes the tube against the pump housing, kind of like milking a cow but more like squeezing a tube of toothpaste," Boggs said. "The tubes are $400 apiece, and have gone up $100 in the last couple of years. Before we were spending $400-$600 a month on repair parts, ceramic check valves, and were having to send an operator out there at 2 or 3 a.m. to make emergency repairs. We endured about two or three years of that and decided to change it."
The solution was two-fold, Boggs said.
"First, we installed a timer relay that allowed us to control how many seconds out of a minute it actually functioned, so we were able to slow the pump way down," Boggs said. "We increased the strength of the lime solution but only ran the pump 25 percent of the time. That made the pump components last four times longer."
The second step was just as simple.
"To go beyond that, we added an additional control that adds or subtracts an additional signal into the speed controller," Boggs said. "If the plant is running at half capacity and the rollers are running at half speed, with just a little adjustment the operator adds 10 percent to the 50 percent signal."
A controller was used to slow down the pump that pushes a lime solution into the water leaving the station and coming to town,
"It´s really simple, four boxes for two pumps," Boggs said. "These engineers, it just blew them away. They said, ´We didn't know you could do that.' It's outside-the-box thinking."
The experiment was based on a great deal of background work, Boggs said.
"We didn't do it just off the cuff, but researched about a half-dozen types of pumps," Boggs said. "We spoke to companies and went to trade shows."
Manufacturers heard about the innovation and started using the Searcy set-up as a case study at trade shows for a few years, and then one manufacturer went to a European trade show, resulting in the idea being used all over the world.

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