The case for increased automation and fewer moving parts in filtration solutions

Price usually drives choice. The economic reason behind this is simple: we all want more for less. This is logical. What is sometimes illogical is the way buyers and specifiers of specialist equipment determine what offers the best value for their money.

As amazing as the human mind is, it is susceptible to a host of cognitive biases. One such example of faulty thinking is the tendency to consider initial price only, rather than total lifetime cost – or even how fit the solution is for purpose. Assuming the benefit given by two or more products is the same; then it is logical to choose the one with the lowest total cost. (i.e. lifetime cost)

The problem is that it is difficult to accurately calculate this. For this reason buyers often rely on the purchase price only – failing to consider:

  • Cost of replacing parts
  • Maintenance
  • Cost of lost production due to downtime
  • The cost of management of the solution

The catch is that that the aforementioned can add significantly to lifetime cost, thus drastically reducing real value. In the end, it is entirely possible that the filtration solution which costs the least upfront, could cost the most overall.

Ideally there would be a method, which could predict the lifetime cost of a system upfront, with 100 percent accuracy. No such method exists.

Then, the next best option is to avoid filtration systems with characteristics which experience and logic determine to be likely to result in: more maintenance, repair and downtime, or more management time.

These are some of the factors to consider:

Manual versus automated filtration systems
Peter Walker, Managing Director, of Superior Filtration says, “Manual screen filters offer some advantages but they tend to clog quickly. This necessitates frequent cleaning. This equates to added lifetime costs in the form of maintenance.”

“In contrast, fully-automatic, self-cleaning filters do not require the same level of human intervention. The filtration process is uninterrupted during the cleaning cycle, providing clean water downstream at all times,” says Walker.

Simple versus complex filter design

Simplicity is an often overlooked virtue. A filter design which is unnecessarily complicated can lead to problems. Reducing the number of moving parts gives the filter less ‘room to fail’. It also boosts performance and reliability. Some such simple filters do not even require an electrical motor. They are driven by gravity or pressure. All that is needed is a minimal electrical feed for the controls and instrumentation, and in some instances, no electricity is needed at all.

Knowing your unique filtration requirements

Walker explains the dangers of not accurately assessing your filtration needs upfront. He warns, “Often, lifetime cost can be increased – not because a specific filtration system is inherently bad, but because it is in the wrong place. To reduce lifetime costs you need the right filter in the right place, and in the right configuration.”

Frequently, the selection of a filtration solution is based solely upon the degree of filtration and capacity required. This approach may work for simple solutions where off-the-shelf products will suffice. In most cases though, you need to work with an experienced filtration specialist to ensure that you specify the right type of filter.

Cost is important. When next you evaluate filtration-solution proposals – be sure to think of lifetime and consequential costs. Also, consider the case for automation and the virtues of a simple design.

Then, work with a filtration specialist to tailor a solution that will be fit-for-purpose – for life.