When Donald Gilpin thinks about how easy his Smith & Loveless pump stations are to maintain, he is unfortunately reminded of a more problematic time in the past when his town was saddled by submersibles.
Between contractors, annual confined space training and the three onsite employees required to complete any preventative maintenance or repairs, submersibles were more than just a time waster and annoyance for the St. Joseph, Mo. Water Pollution Control, of which Gilpin is the Superintendent of Wastewater Treatment. They were costing the city money.
Compare that to today. With all but one of the city’s 24 packaged stations of the Smith & Loveless above-grade, wet well mounted variety, Gilpin says maintaining his stations is now cost-effective and easy. One single employee is able to inspect all the city’s pump stations by simply opening the stations’ fiberglass hoods.
They run what seems like forever with very little maintenance,” Gilpin said. “No news is good news and I never hear any complaints on the stations.”
For those facing budget pressures, the high cost of maintaining submersibles often forces them into less than comprehensive maintenance programs. This can result in less efficient pumping and shortened life-cycles for the stations.
Because of the ease of maintenance and low life-cycle costs related to the unique above-grade design of Smith & Loveless Wet Well Mounted Pump Stations, many municipalities like St. Joseph are turning to Smith & Loveless for their pumping needs.
“That means one less headache for my people, and for me,” Gilpin said. “They are one of our non-issue situations on equipment.”
Gilpin said the city of St. Joseph, which standardized to Smith & Loveless Wet Well Mounted Pump Stations more than 30 years ago, benefits from not only significant cost advantages but also safety features as well.
“We have a huge push on safety here,” Gilpin said. “Above-grade makes it a lot easier for us safety wise because we don’t have to have 3 people out there doing a confined space entry.”
Because of the standard part design of Smith & Loveless stations, the city is able to keep a small inventory of parts on hand, ensuring minimal down time for repairs and allowing for all work to be done by city employees.
“It makes it real cost-effective because we are standardized on the same station,” Gilpin said. “When something goes down, we have it back up immediately.”
Not that part failure is common in Smith & Loveless pump stations, something Gilpin said he learned the hard way a few years back when he auctioned an old Smith & Loveless station after erroneously assuming it was well past its prime.
“We figured someone was going to be cutting them up for scrap and maybe gutting them for a few parts,” Gilpin said.
A while later, during an inspection of a brand new housing addition with several million dollar homes, Gilpin discovered that same Smith & Loveless pump station operating perfectly without any further repairs.
For Gilpin and the city of St. Joseph, the Smith & Loveless above-grade pump station design is a no-brainer. Between the pump efficiency, simple station access and general ease of operation and maintenance, Smith & Loveless has saved the city thousands in life-cycle costs.
A 9-year study by another municipality in Kansas City, Kan. backed up these claims when it revealed that the average annual repair and maintenance expenditure for 30 Smith & Loveless pump stations was less than half that of 21 comparable submersible stations.
“When other vendors knock on our door, we say sorry,” Gilpin said. “You’re beating a dead horse.”