Customized vs. Standardized: How to Select the Right Pump for the Job

Hampton Creative

One of the rare constants in the domestic oil & gas pump market has been the need for quick deliveries. Upstream and midstream companies in the United States have sprung into action to expand production by building a supply chain focused on rapid delivery and continuous improvement. “Engineer-to-Order” and traditional project management bureaucracies are obsolete in America’s modern oilfield. Our customers have communicated loud and clear: faster is better… except if it’s more expensive.

HOSS has grown dramatically in the last two years by offering built-for-purpose pump systems that can be delivered fast. How fast? We recently completed a fully customized pump project within 3 weeks of receiving the order. Some of our competitors brag about quick deliveries, without acknowledging that a customer is forced to buy stock systems that are a poor fit for many applications. Stock systems have their place in a true field emergency. For example, HOSS carries inventory of fully assembled units and accessories to help our customers recover quickly after natural disasters or complete production outages. But unless the customer has no other option, ordering a fully customized unit that can be delivered in 4-6 weeks is usually a better choice.

Customizing the pump system is not about designing to a customer’s preference. It’s about maximizing efficiency at the lowest cost. Put simply, a customized pump system is designed to exactly match the application. No more… no less. HOSS is able to respond quickly and consistently by applying principles of mass customization. We have designed a robust and extensive catalog of modular parts that can be mixed and matched to tailor our pump system exactly to a given set of flow and pressure requirements. And we back this up with inventory and streamlined processes for scalable, reliable manufacturing output.

Analyzing the Life Cycle Cost (LCC) of a pump system can be complicated, but is useful when comparing alternatives like ordering a customized unit vs. a stock unit. The US Department of Energy and the Hydraulic Institute have published a very thorough guide for pump customers.

The largest contributors to a typical horizontal pump’s Life Cycle Cost are purchase price, energy (electricity) needed to run the pump, maintenance, and the expense of unplanned downtime. Buying a high quality, perfectly sized, quick delivery pump is the best way to minimize LCC.

Selecting a stock system increases life cycle cost, initially from the higher relative purchase price. In addition, a stock horizontal pump is usually too large for the application conditions. This results in operating at a less efficient point on the pump’s head-capacity curve. Less efficient operation increases the energy required to meet the duty point. And less efficient operation can lead to higher thrust and vibration, which results in premature pump and thrust chamber failure. A surprise failure of the key pump system components creates the highest expense of all: unplanned downtime. A typical salt water disposal (SWD) operator could lose over $10,000 of revenue every day a pump is not running. Downtime in a crude transfer or gas treatment plant can lead to even greater lost daily revenue.

HOSS will continue to respond to our customers’ needs by offering a variety of fast delivery options. However, we believe an informed customer is a happy customer. Honesty and integrity require candor and full disclosure. While we could make more money by forcing customers to buy fully standard stock units, we believe customized horizontal pump systems are usually a better solution.

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