Empowering Education: Integrating Digitalisation in Practical Engineering Curriculum at Singapore Polytechnic

With an ever-changing landscape and the evolving skill requirements in the energy, chemicals, pharmaceutical, and biopharmaceutical sectors, Singapore Polytechnic launched its Energy and Chemicals Training Centre (ECTC) in 2019. The ambition behind this initiative was to equip students and engineers with the necessary skills to meet real-life demands before entering the workforce.

To support the next generation of engineers, Grundfos donated our CRE pump to Singapore Polytechnic (SP), allowing them to develop a curriculum focusing on the effective use of digital pumps to enhance water and energy efficiencies.

Through SP’s Final Year Projects, two groups of students from the School of Chemical and Life Sciences undertook the design of a water treatment system using the Grundfos CRE pump to explore ultrafiltration in water treatment applications, particularly how digital pumps can address inefficiencies in backwashing. Over the course of a year, they set up the unit and tailored it to meet the curriculum's requirements, ensuring its effectiveness as a tool for hands-on training and education.

During the filtration process, filters gradually become clogged with particles. When this occurs, backwashing involves pumping water backwards through the filters to clear the clog. In conventional pump systems, backwashing can be inefficient as pumps operate at a fixed rate, resulting in the overuse of water and energy. Manual initiation may also lead to delays and downtime.

By integrating digitalisation with the Grundfos CRE pump, students learn to leverage technology and dynamically adjust speed based on real-time filtration conditions. The CRE pump is designed to gradually increase speed as filters become clogged, ensuring a consistent output while optimising energy consumption. 

When filters reach a critical point of fouling, the CRE pump triggers the backwash—stopping the primary pump operation, switching the valve, and activating the secondary pump to reverse water flow. Upon completion of backwash, the CRE pump resumes the primary pump’s operation, seamlessly transitioning back to the filtration process. This approach minimises water and energy waste, thereby improving overall efficiency in water treatment applications.

As part of the ECTC, the demonstration unit that was designed with pedagogy in mind, is now in the curricula and allows future students to learn how digitalisation enhances process control and how to analyse data for potential implementation in the workplace. This not only helps them acquire relevant technical skills but also cultivates a mindset attuned to innovation and sustainability—a vital asset in today's competitive industrial landscape.