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Pump flow control: traditional vs modern

In pump applications where the flow rate demand varies, such as food and beverage production, chemical processing or wastewater management, there are several options for achieving control.

Some traditional pump flow control methods are still in use today, but are they as efficient as modern techniques?



This method involves running the pump at normal speed and manually opening and closing a discharge valve in order to regulate flow. Clearly this is inefficient as the pump consumes the maximum quantity of energy while components are subject to excessive wear and tear.

On-off control

In certain water management systems, such as tanks, sumps and drains, it’s necessary to maintain a constant level of liquid. A float valve is often employed to achieve this, which de-activates the pump once the water reaches the desired level.


Normally used with circulation pumps, this involves bypassing a section of the discharge flow to the pump suction, which reduces the flow output. This is inefficient as it still involves running the pump at full speed despite reduced demand.


Variable-speed drive

During the last 40 years, variable-speed drives (VSDs) have become recognised as the most efficient method of controlling the speed of electric motor-driven processes such as pumping applications. A VSD allows the electric motor to operate at optimum efficiency, meaning energy consumption is kept to a minimum.

VSDs are ideal for applications such as food and beverage production and pharmaceutical processes where dosing requirements vary. As well as energy savings of up to 60 per cent, VSDs help users achieve more accurate process control while reducing wear and tear on components and maximising equipment life.

As well as a comprehensive range of pumps for most applications – including industry-leading Lowara pumps – Gibbons also supply, install and service ABB drives as part of our membership of the prestigious authorised value provider programme.

If your pumping system is still controlled by traditional methods, consider improving precision and energy efficiency with ABB drives. User-friendly interfaces and unrivalled technical support are standard for ABB drives clients,  while return on investment through energy savings can be achieved in as little as 12 months.

For more information, call Alan Roberts on 07966 468430 or email

Variable-Speed Drives, Electric Motors, Pumps & Controls

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