By Lana Straub
In the May 2014 issue of the Water Well Journal, my article “Saving the Life of Your Pump,” discussed different tactics groundwater professionals and end users can use to extend the life of groundwater pumps in drought conditions.
As I mentioned in the piece, pumps in drought areas have to deal with many potential pump-killing conditions.
In recent years, farm and ranch pump users in the High Plains area have had to deal with significant drought. Gicon Pumps and Equipment is a supplier that services that area. I spoke recently with Eric Macias, marketing director for Gicon, about its new product developed for and being used in the High Plains, the Gicon Air iLert system.
With it, you can combine your smart phone with Gicon technology to have your pump actually notify you when it’s in trouble due to the negative effects of air and sand. Macias says due to the massive size of some of the systems on the High Plains some of Gicon’s agricultural customers don’t utilize traditional motor protection “due to the number of wells a producer has to manage as well as the nuisance tripping that occurs and causes the shutdown of the entire irrigation system.”
However, pump off is a real situation for his agricultural customers. “As you know,” says Macias, “when these pumps suck air, they’re doing major damage to the pump and motor.”
Even though his users can’t afford long shutdowns of an entire system, the Air iLert helps them manage pump-off situations caused by water drawdown. “Air iLert allows the user to be notified when the pumping water level has reached a critical point and it can shut down the pump,” Macias says. “The user just dictates how long it is to shutdown—10 to 60 minutes.”
The Air iLert gives end users the option of when and how to manage their pumps, allowing a “notify only” setting if the user wants to keep the pump going in spite of drawdown warnings.
“This product can also notify the user when the pumping water level reaches a crucial level,” Macias adds, “which we don’t recommend, but some producers do not want the pump to shut down.”
The Air iLert system is currently available in Lubbock and has a list price of $1800 per unit. Macias says it currently fits any size Allen Bradley or Siemens pump panel. Anyone wanting more information should contact Gicon’s Chris Orr.
“The absolute best way to protect the pump is with a submersible level transducer and a variable frequency drive.” advises Macias. “This is a costly option, but will totally automate the pumping system and the user will never have to worry about pumping air again.”
With the long-term drought related issues so many groundwater professionals have to deal with on a daily basis, more and more companies are developing drought resistant methods to help end users.
The key is to learn about those methods and pass them on to your customers.