Broadening industry understanding to advance Singapore’s green agenda

Pushing boundaries through hands-on learning

In Singapore, Final Year Projects (FYP) are not only key milestones for graduating students as they are assessed on their academic performance. They also provide opportunities for both teaching staff and students to work directly on real-life industry scenarios, in trialing and testing various hypotheses to uncover new information and ways of working.

This is exemplified by the recently completed FYP by a group of students from Singapore Polytechnic's (SP) School of Chemical & Life Sciences that features the Grundfos’ iBoiler solution. Donated to SP in November 2022 by Grundfos, the iBoiler demo unit is designed to showcase industrial Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics, by demonstrating the capability of the variable speed pump (VSP) which intuitively controls water levels in the tank, replacing traditional control valves.

Following training provided by Grundfos on operating and maintaining e-pumps, the group of four students recognised the potential VSP brings as a sustainable and efficient way of process control, and embarked on an in-depth exploration of the solution.

The student group sets out to investigate whether VSPs can work as well as a conventional control valve set-up, as this can show that VSPs can manage water levels while being optimised for energy efficiency.  With the iBoiler retrofitted for this study, the outcome demonstrated that while the VSP control algorithm can maintain the water level when subjected to external disturbances, its response is different from that of the control valve algorithm, and requires further studying.

Through this project, students discovered the merits and potential uses of VSPs in comparison to the conventional control valve set-up, and investigate from a real-world perspective how the pumps would react to different situations on the factory floor, such as increased production.

The successful modification of the iBoiler for educational purposes through this project has also allowed other students to learn and explore how VSPs handle level control in boiler feed applications, and understand how to optimise the system for energy efficiency.

Following the success of the hands-on learning approach through the iBoiler, Grundfos and SP will also be exploring greater equipment utilisation in teaching and learning, this time with the CRE pump. With the smart pump equipped with a variable frequency drive, staff and students can gain insights into the impact of VSPs in water treatment applications.

Going beyond the classroom

Beyond the classroom, Grundfos also presents opportunities for hands-on learning through internship experiences. Grundfos currently provides a 22-week internship programme to Diploma in Chemical Engineering students from SP’s School of Chemical & Life Sciences.

As various manufacturing sectors look to assess their need areas in water and energy conservation to operate sustainability, Grundfos works closely with its customers to develop a sustainable pumping system model that can help reduce water and energy use, which presents a compelling challenge for students to flex their industry thinking on.

To propose a sustainable pumping system for the manufacturing sector and use an industry client as a case study, students are tasked during the 22 weeks to research, conceptualise, and present a viable sustainable approach.

This includes conducting research on the water cycle, energy use, and pain points in existing operations and processes, performing a life-cycle cost analysis comparing existing and proposed solutions, and finally proposing a sustainable pumping system model that meets the customer’s business and sustainability needs.

Advancing industry understanding on a wider platform

To complement working on-ground with students for greater learning, Grundfos also recognises the importance of sharing industry insights on a wider platform reaching both students and the wider audience locally and globally.

One key platform is the Charles Rudd Distinguished Public Lecture (CRDPL) 2023, which will be held in May 2023. This esteemed event will feature Grundfos and other stakeholders from industry, academia, and the public sector coming together to engage in discourse on how businesses can embed themselves in the circular economy as part of the global transition towards net zero.

“To progress the sustainable agenda, we need to recognise it is mutually beneficial for us to leverage each other’s strengths, resources, and knowledge as we work towards the same goal. Hands-on learning through project work and internships not only allows students to advance their industry know-how and experience, but also allows Grundfos as a solution provider to think about our solutions and ways of working differently.

Meanwhile, engaging in meaningful discourse with key stakeholders on a wider platform, such as the esteemed CRDPL 2023, allows us to reach out to students and a wider audience, advancing overall awareness on the net zero movements that would benefit the industry as a whole. Ultimately, collaborative learning and knowledge sharing is not a linear process, but flows through the entire ecosystem and benefits all stakeholders.”

Eric Lai, Grundfos’ Regional Managing Director, Industry – APAC & Country Director for Singapore