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Texas Lake Community Finds Viable Grinder Pump Solution

Pumps & Operations
Franklin Electric Texas Lake Community Finds Viable Grinder Pump Solution

Texas Lake Community Finds Viable Grinder Pump Solution

Franklin Electric worked with the East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District (ECCFWSD) to offer a more reliable grinder pump solution that could be used throughout their system, which included 3,600 individual grinder pumps for residential and commercial use as well as pumps for 10 to 15 lift stations.

About three years ago, the phone at the East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District was ringing off the hook. As the grinder pumps that were servicing more than 6,500 residents in the small lake community continued to fail, alarms were screeching across the 20 square miles of Northwest Henderson County.

Franklin Electric Texas Lake Community Finds Viable Grinder Pump Solution (3)

The district’s small staff of only 13 operations technicians was clocking hundreds of hours of overtime to meet the demand and had dramatically surpassed their workload capacity.

“A thermal overload would trip the alarms,” Operations Manager David Hollaway explained. “The pumps were running too long or they were trying to pump, but couldn’t because of too much head pressure. And of course, there were a lot of wipes that were clogging the system. We were getting so many calls that we knew we needed to find a solution.”

Located about 50 miles southeast of Dallas, the ECCFWSD serves about 6,500 water customers and 5,000 sewer customers adjacent to the north and east banks of Cedar Creek Reservoir. In the resort community, some residents only live there during the summer months or on weekends and rent out their homes at other times. Many of the homes are dormant in the winter months with no pump activity at all. During heavy tourist months, the pumps are working excessively.

Most of the District’s service area consists of municipal and rural residential subdivisions that were developed in the mid to late 1960s and early 1970s following construction of the 1,000 square mile reservoir. While the equipment had been upgraded over the years, the number of nuisance calls related to pump issues continued to increase.

The current pumps would get bound or burnt up, breakers were tripping for no clear reason, and service issues were becoming the norm. In fact, in one weekend alone, the District recorded 28 hours of overtime on repair work. Time was adding up—and so were the costs associated with repairing pumps that weren’t grinding efficiently enough.
Franklin Electric Texas Lake Community Finds Viable Grinder Pump Solution (4)

ECCFWSD Finds Game-Changing Solution

Franklin Electric invited engineers from the ECCFWSD into their local lab to see first-hand what more efficient grinder pumps could accomplish. Grinding was the main concern, and Franklin put several products to the test, including the FPS IGP-A Series and IGP-M Series grinder pumps—both designed for residential or light commercial sewage needs.

“Before we started using the Franklin pumps, I went to a demonstration in Oklahoma, and they gave us a few to try in some particularly troublesome spots,” Hollaway said. “These sites were the worst-case scenario. The area had several homes with gravity sewers dumping into a lift station. There were tons of wipes that were clogging the pumps. There were no grinders in the areas of the lift station, so there was significant clogging.”

The trouble spots were experiencing failures at least two times each week. However, since installing the test pumps from Franklin Electric in 2018, Hollaway’s team has never been back to service the pumps.

“When these pumps did the job at that problem location, we knew we had found the right solution,” he said. These automatic and manual 208-230 volt/single phase pumps are 2 HP, but their performance is comparable to a 3.5 or 5 HP grinder pump—assuring that they could easily handle the demands of grinding domestic sewage. The patented, floating cutting system in the units is designed not to bind up even if the pump stops running at the end of a cycle. The heavy-duty shaft also helps prevent the pump from binding up at the start/end of a run cycle.

For the customer, Franklin Electric’s solution-focused approach and customer service also exceeded expectations. Franklin Electric’s ability to troubleshoot issues over the phone—combined with their availability to be on-site quickly—made the product even more appealing.

ECCFWSD liked what they saw and specified the pumps for known problem areas. Now, the pumps are considered the preferred pump for the District’s grinder applications and continue to be installed as needed and as issues arise with the current equipment.

After the successful test run, the ECCFWSD began answering nuisance residents calls with a solid solution. If the pump could not be repaired on the first attempt, it was sent to the District’s pump graveyard and a new Franklin Electric pump was installed in its place. In the first year, about 150 pumps were replaced.

Since April 2018, nearly 700 new Franklin Electric grinders have been installed at individual residences with minimal service calls or required maintenance on any of them.

“The previous pumps simply were not doing the job,” Hollaway said. “We installed them in the extreme problem areas first, and then noticed that the nuisance calls declined significantly. So, we just started putting them everywhere. After the first year of using the Franklin pumps, we saw a clear difference.”

Since the first year, the District has regularly installed between 20 to 40 pumps per month in an ongoing effort to improve life for the technicians as well as the residents.

Franklin Electric Texas Lake Community Finds Viable Grinder Pump Solution (1)

No News is Good News

If you do the math, there are still thousands of residents with older pumps in service, however the District is committed to eventually replacing all 3,600 of them.

Life is much quieter now, Hollaway said.

“When heavy rain causes inflow and infiltration issues and the old pumps fail, we get a lot of calls,” he explained. “But the phone has stopped ringing. It’s a rare occasion that I receive a call from a location where we have installed a new Franklin Electric grinder pump.”

For ECCFWSD, product availability is critical for their team to answer calls quickly with a viable solution. “We have a manufacturing facility located in Oklahoma where we maintain a large stock of these products on a consistent basis,” said Aaron Jackson, Territory Manager for Franklin Electric, who has worked with Holloway’s team on this extensive project. “The close proximity of the ECCFWSD to our facility makes the pumps readily available for installations,” Jackson explains.

While replacing all the failed pumps as they get nuisance calls, in the past year the District also began installing Franklin Electric pumps in any new construction project sites. Several businesses have also benefited from newly installed grinders.

In addition, Hollaway and his team have placed new Franklin Electric pumps in some of its 80 lift stations. The plan is to replace all of the pumps for the 2HP lift stations.

Franklin Electric Texas Lake Community Finds Viable Grinder Pump Solution (2)

Increasing Efforts & Upgrades

ECCFWSD reports rarely having to return to locations where the Franklin pumps are installed. Overall, callouts are down significantly, and failure rates have improved. The result is reduced expenses due to service calls and overtime work—delivering significant return on investment for the customer.

Formerly, the District would try to refurbish and rebuild failing pumps. But they no longer do that. “We have discovered that it’s a better return on investment to simply replace them with new Franklin pumps,” Hollaway said.

The ECCFWSD also has data to confirm increased efficiency with the new pump installations, especially in places that require a higher head. The standard Franklin Electric pump is fitting the bill nicely, he said.

New pump installations will also benefit from upgrades in controls and automation. Panel boxes will connect to the pumps so that adjustments can easily be made onsite. New pumps will come equipped with the upgraded control systems.

Hollaway said the efforts to improve service for the District’s customers has been worth the effort and the expense. “New pumps are expensive, but the time and money we are saving more than makes up for it,” he said without hesitation. “Saving overtime and nuisance calls makes it worth every penny. And Franklin’s customer service is second to none. We call and they have answers. This means a lot to operators.”

With thousands of older pumps still in operation, the phone continues to ring. But now, the nuisance call has a much more positive tone and outcome.

“First we have to go there and see what the problem is,” Hollaway explained. “But now we can tell them that if we can’t fix it, we have a great solution. We can approach the problems with much more confidence knowing that we have this solution. For the amount of work we do, 13 people is really not enough. We now can get a lot more done with the same amount of people but with less overtime and with fewer complaints.”

About the Author:

Michelle Segrest - Navigate ContentMichelle Segrest is president of Navigate Content, Inc., a full-service content creation firm and has covered the industrial processing industries since 2008. Find her podcast, “Factory of the Future” wherever you listen to podcasts.

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