Pump priming

Darren George of Willow Pumps looks at recent developments in pump station design, to provide ease as well as efficiency

It’s safe to say the aim at the outset of any project is the completion of a build on time and on budget. But most industry professionals will have experience of a construction project that has encountered problems – unforeseen issues that cause delays, extra cost, or breakdown of client relationships.

Services such as pump station design and installation, both for private and ‘adoptable’ stations, can be a fundamental part of a construction project where gravity fed drainage is unachievable, and this needn’t be a problem if approached professionally and at an early stage. This can be of particular importance on adoptable stations so that all site constraints can be considered and assessed to help ensure that the pump station is designed and installed to a standard that would allow a water utility company to ‘adopt’ the asset in the future.

A pump station designed to adoptable standards is often preferred over a private one, as the eventual ownership and responsibility for upkeep and maintenance will transfer to a water utility company and no longer present a liability for those who built or rely on the pump station.

Get it right from the start
Even at concept stage – before drawings are completed and a build has begun – answering key questions about Sewerage Sector Guidance (the replacement for SFA – Sewers for Adoption) or private pump stations can save future headaches. What size of pump station will be required for the planned build? How much space will this take up on site? Where on site will it be most efficient to place it? What will the specific requirements of the local water authority be? By directing these questions to your pump station designer as early as possible, all requirements are understood from the outset and designs can include optimal rather than substandard solutions, avoiding costly changes and corrections being made further down the line.

Every build is different, and pump station design should be considered as a bespoke solution for each specific project. Even between two similar projects (for example, two residential housing builds of roughly the same size), the specific requirements can vary. This might be something as simple as the size of space required for pumping facilities or unique limitations of a particular site.

By relying on precedent, or standard solutions from previous projects, groundworks crews can end up being instructed to create spaces that don’t fit the ultimate need, and responsibility for this mistake can find its way back to initial engineering or architectural planning.

The process of integrating pump stations of adoptable standard or other pumping facilities can be viewed as a life cycle, from initial assessment through design, approval, installation and management, and subsequent adoption of the station by the local water authority. Understanding this process from the start and being clear on which parties are responsible for each stage is crucial for a successful integration. This is where involving a provider who can cover the whole life cycle can be helpful – the fewer stakeholders there are to be co-ordinated, the more chance there is of a streamlined process.

Keep the process simple
Issues do occur, that’s the reality of any project. But when they do, you want to be able to deal with them quickly and efficiently. Adopting one company for all aspects of the whole life cycle of your build means that unforeseen issues can be addressed easily without having to wait for communication between multiple parties. Problems can be assessed and immediately passed over to the relevant person in-house. Parts can be accessed quickly and repairs made without delay, saving both time and money.

A simple, but carefully managed maintenance and snagging period after installation can also help to eliminate any problems that could delay the adoption process. By working with a single

provider, they will have full knowledge of the design and installation phase, meaning any issues during maintenance and snagging can be easily checked against the original requirements and discussed without having to wait for information from another source.

Experience pays, and any adoptable pump station designer with a history of successful projects across multiple water authority areas will have the industry relationships necessary to ensure a smooth process. This would include good working relationships with local water authority inspectors, trusted partnerships with suppliers, and up-to-date knowledge of the most recent industry regulations. When handover occurs, the pump station can be transferred without difficulty and without any key requirements being overlooked.

Consider the long term
The end goal should always be to deliver on time and on budget to allow timely sale of properties and maintain good client relationships. Ensuring that the inclusion of Sewerage Sector Guidance and other pumping facilities doesn’t disrupt this goal comes down to keeping in mind the ultimate need – seamless and successful adoption of the pump station. This means being able to have faith in your provider to deliver all parts of the project to a high standard, and being able to keep open lines of communication with a small number of expert individuals along the way.

Keeping documentation flowing from one source throughout the adoption process enables projects to be handed over without confusion, allowing everyone involved to provide quality and efficiency, thereby keeping clients happy and laying the groundwork for future collaborations.

Darren George is technical design manager at Willow Pumps