Podcast | December 15, 2011

Thermo Fisher Talks Next-Generation Peristaltic Pumps

Ed Selvick and Gregg Johnson of Thermo Fisher Scientific sat down with Water Online Radio for this live interview from the show floor at WEFTEC 2011 in Los Angeles. Topics discussed included some of the typical problems associated with wastewater pumps, as well as the benefits of using peristaltic pumps. Listen or read on to learn more.

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Todd Schnick: We are back, broadcasting live from the Los Angeles Convention Center and the tradeshow floor of WEFTEC. I am Todd Schnick, joined by my co-host, Todd Youngblood. Todd, we got two troublemakers on this next segment.

Todd Youngblood: Well, troublemakers, and you realize I got myself in trouble right out of the shoot here. This is a former customer of mine.

Todd Schnick: Truly good thing that I had no idea that he was a former customer.

Todd Youngblood: I mean that's embarrassing.

Todd Schnick: They don't teach that in the books.

Todd Youngblood: I think he's going to hit me over the head before he leaves here today.

Ed Selvick: I’ll give you one of your books to read, Todd.

Todd Youngblood: Is that one of my own books that says, “Always remember your customer?”

Ed Selvick: That’s the one.

Todd Schnick: Did he sign it and everything? Good Lord. Okay, well let’s introduce our guests. They are both from Thermo Fisher Scientific. We're joined by Ed Selvick, who's the VP of sales, and Gregg Johnson, who's the marketing manager. Welcome to the show, fellas.

Ed Selvick: Great to be here.

Gregg Johnson: Yeah, thanks for having us.

Todd Schnick: Well, before we get into our conversation, why don't you just, one by one, tell us a little bit about your background, who you are, and the work you're doing for Thermo Fisher. Why don’t we start with you, Ed.

Ed Selvick: I've been in the water treatment business for well over 20 years. I started with the Culligan Industrial Water Company years ago, then to a company called Stranco that was bought up USFilter, where we did a lot of chem-feed systems. And I’ve been with Thermo Fisher Scientific now for the last five years, and we do anything from medical devices to wastewater treatment pumps.

Todd Schnick: Okay. What about you, Gregg?

Gregg Johnson: I've been involved with the pump industry for 30 years. Started with a Cole-Parmer and worked with them as a product manager, moved over to pump manufacturing. Later worked with Graymills and Tuthill Pump Company, and came back to Thermo Scientific in early 2000.

Todd Youngblood: Well, unlike our guests, who are both young fellows, I’ve been around this industry for quite a few years. You guys are known for peristaltic pumps and, frankly, they've been around forever.

And I don't really think about them as high-tech, but I’m sure that they are. Talk about how those types of pumps, that style of pump, has changed over the years and kept up with the technology and requirements.

Gregg Johnson: Well, I'll take that question. They are a lot of differences, but, essentially, most other pump types have rotors, glands, valves, or seals that can either wear out, or clog, or have some other type of problem in the installation.

Also, a lot of other pump types cannot really run dry or provide a reverse flow. Peristaltic pumps have the ability to run dry. They have no glands, no seals, and no valves to clog.

Todd Schnick: So the maintenance is less. I mean, is that the big difference?

Gregg Johnson: Maintenance is very easy with peristaltic pumps. Basically, by replacing the tubing, you have a new pump, and they're very simple to maintain.

Todd Youngblood: Well, they use to be problematic, we understand. What changed? Why are they now the standard in the industry?

Ed Selvick: Well, Todd, there are several reasons why peristaltic pumps, especially the Masterflex pumps, are ideal for wastewater treatment plants. First, the Easy-Load pump design allows the operator to maintain the pump in less than a minute, as Gregg mentioned, simply by replacing the tubing.

And the new tubing materials that we have developed can hold up to the very harsh demands of service in the field, and that's all changed over the last 10 years or so. And with the development of high-tech tubing materials, we can absolutely marry the right tubing material to the application.

Todd Schnick: What are the advantages to Thermo Scientific peristaltic pumps in wastewater applications? Help our audience understand why each is so important.

Gregg Johnson: Well, they avoid a lot of difficulties in the wastewater treatment plant application. First of all, chemical attack, abrasive wear, and clogging. Salt settlement and vapor locking are also some of the problems that peristaltic pumps solve.

Todd Youngblood: Chemical attack? You got my attention with that phrase.

Todd Schnick: And it freaked me out. What's that all about?

Gregg Johnson: Chemical attack is chemical corrosion to the tubing or pump materials that are involved in the piping system by some of the strong chemicals that are used – sodium hypochlorite, which is basically a bleaching or oxidizing agent, and ferric chlorides and those other types of chemicals.

Todd Schnick: So these have to be reliable then?

Ed Selvick: You bet they do. Reliability is excellent for these pumps because the fluid itself never actually touches the pump, it only touches the tubing. This means that the pump will last a very, very long time. Plus the same pump can be used for various fluids simply by changing the tubing material itself.

Todd Youngblood: Let's talk a little bit about the economics of the whole thing. I mean, it’s impossible to have a business conversation without talking about capital and expenses and saving money and total cost of ownership.

Just talk a little bit about how all these things that you guys have been discussing about your pumps have an impact for, you know, the benefit of your customer, in terms of money.

Gregg Johnson: Well, in terms of money, the peristaltic pump probably is a little higher investment initially, but as the user is working with the pump and the operator maintains it, they're much easier to maintain, they're much easier to repair, and the operator has a level of comfort that they’re going to maintain their operating system without it going down or failing because there is a bit of vapor or gas locking in the pump.

Todd Schnick: Help us understand what pump vapor locking is. What do you mean by that?

Ed Selvick: Well, vapor locking is the result of out-gassing from a fluid, which is a commonplace problem when feeding chemicals like sodium hypochlorite, commonly used in wastewater treatment plants and in water treatment plants as well.

With out-gassing, the chemical can form a pocket of vapor or gas in the fluid lines, and it can obstruct the normal flow of other kinds of pumps.

With the peristaltic pump, the pump is constantly having the tubing squeezed so all the fluids in the pump, which includes the vapor itself, is being moved along so the pump itself would never stop.

Todd Youngblood: Let’s talk a little bit about regulation. I mean, it seems like every time I turn around, the state, the municipality, the federal government... you’ve got regulations coming from all corners, foreign governments. How big an impact is that having on your business?

Gregg Johnson: What happens with regulation as it drives and pertains to the metering pump or chemical feed pump business is, first of all, we have to reliably meter or feed the chemical that treats the water, but we can’t overfeed it.

So there’s regulations on both ends as to the purity of the water and the amount of chemicals that gets in there. It can’t be too strong or it becomes very bad for whoever is using, and it can’t be too weak otherwise you have bad things happening with bacteria and those types of growth.

Todd Schnick: So you guys are exhibiting here at WEFTEC. How is the show going for you so far?

Ed Selvick: It’s been very good. We’ve had a lot of customers visit, we’ve had many of our representatives visit. We’re in booth 4145 and we’d like to see anybody here who wants to come by and we’ll tell them all about peristaltic pumps.

Todd Schnick: Is Youngblood allowed to come?

Ed Selvick: Maybe. We’ll see.

Todd Schnick: Oh, no.

Ed Selvick: Todd, we’d love to have you come over, man.

Todd Youngblood: Oh, thank you. Thank you. So I’ve been forgiven.

Ed Selvick: Yes, you have.

Todd Schnick: All right. Well, gentlemen, I hate to admit it, but we’re out of time. Before I let you go, please share with the audience how they can contact Thermo Fisher and learn more about the good works that you’re doing.

Gregg Johnson: Thermo Fisher, we’re located in Barrington, IL. They can contact us on the website, www.thermoscientific.com/fluidhandling and also by our 800-number, 800-637-3739. Or come to the booth again at 4145.

Todd Schnick: Ed Selvick, Gregg Johnson, thank you so much for joining us. It was a pleasure having you.

Ed Selvick: Pleasure to be here. Thanks for the opportunity.

Todd Youngblood: Thanks, gentlemen.

Ed Selvick: You bet.

Todd Schnick: Okay, that wraps this segment. On behalf of Todd Youngblood, I’m Todd Schnick. Water Online Radio will be right back.

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