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28 November 2012

Ask any specifier about procurement and Pay Back Period will undoubtedly feature in the decision to purchase - a fact which Billingham-based pump manufacturers and distributors, Tomlinson Hall, use to their advantage when explaining the features of their unique range of Liquivac® liquid ring vacuum pumps.

With testimony from an international chemical and pharmaceutical giant detailing an extraordinary return on investment of just 6 days after installing a Liquivac® pump in their pigment manufacturing plant, the pumps tend to sell themselves to the converted as Tomlinson Hall's MD, Tony Keville, explained, "The pigment manufacturing process produced a mix of approximately 50 cu metres of foam with 50 cu metres of liquid. They couldn't move the foam with conventional pumps and had to wait until it settled - once we'd installed the Liquivac®, we cut the process time by over two thirds, giving a pay back period for their investment of just six days, so yes, they were very happy!"

The development of the pump, of course, goes way back to ancient Syracuse, where Archimedes discovered the spiral screw pump, which, albeit refined in materials and engineering, still forms the heart of many modern industrial processes some 2,300 years later. The evolution of this ancient technology into the liquid ring vacuum pump is an interesting piece of engineering history in itself, but began for Tomlinson Hall in 1986 when the company was appointed UK agents for the Danish 'Helivac' pumps, originally developed in the 1960's by Willie Johst in Allborg, Denmark, to empty water from sand barges on the Rhine.

Tony Keville continues, "We enjoyed a good relationship with the Viggo Petersen Group of Companies, who manufactured the Helivac range, and were very surprised when they decided to cease production in 1994. It's a long story, but various patents had lapsed, we knew the pumps intimately and therefore decided to redesign it and manufacture the new pumps ourselves. We launched the Liquivac® range in November 1995 after arranging new patents and new machine tools and sourcing new castings. The pumps are 100% British designed and manufactured with stainless steel castings from Cornwall and cast iron castings from Bradford - it's a fact that we're very proud of and which is now proving a powerful marketing aid."

At the heart of every Liquivac® pump is a unique twin start helical rotor mounted eccentrically in a cylindrical pump casing designed to pump liquids or combinations of liquids, air, fine solids and foams. This two-stage process is achieved through the formation of a liquid ring, which initially creates a seal between the rotor and then a series of crescent shaped cavities within the casing. During priming, the air is drawn into the cavities, compressed and discharged through the pump - once the pump is fully primed, cavities are filled with liquid, which is then discharged through the pump system. Its fast self-priming and re-priming functions make it simple to use and ensure none of its priming ability is lost.

One of the many application successes has been for the Sea Life Centres throughout Europe where the pumps are used to constantly draw in fresh sea water, using the beach as a natural filter, to the marine life holding tanks viewed by the public. Tony Keville said, "Our first installation was in Weymouth in 1987 although our most recent ones are further afield in Tenerife, Crete and, latterly in the Caribbean. The centres are obviously located close to supplies of fresh or sea water but the long suction lines required make Liquivac® the pump of choice as alternative technologies just couldn't manage this performance. In addition, they're very low maintenance pieces of kit so often it's almost a 'fit and forget' situation which reduces the Centres' maintenance costs - a simple set of seals is usually all the spares we recommend carrying as there's few moving parts in the pump."

However, it certainly isn't just the leisure industry which has benefited from the installation of the pumps. Ideally suited for sump evacuation, Liquivac® pumps are used widely throughout the chemical and pharmaceutical process industries with single pumps often drawing from multiple sumps collecting varying materials. The pumps' unique feature of being able to utilise long suction lines whilst still handling suction lifts of up to 8.5 metres with discharge rates of up to 30 m3/hr and discharge heads up to 3 bar has made them extremely cost-effective in such scenarios - an installation for a chemical plant in Ulverston, Cumbria, for example, has one pump serving 17 different sumps.

The chemical industry is just one where the pumps are used for liquid powder blending - in one example controlling the amount of red dye that goes into agricultural diesel - and for filtration purposes. Both flat bed and belt filtration process are important market sectors for Tomlinson Hall with one chemical company on Teesside achieving a pay back period of just five weeks within their herbicide production process.

Land remediation has also benefited from Tomlinson Hall's home grown product with diesel and other oil products taken away through sumps whilst the pumps' ability to handle gas and liquids makes them ideal for leachate extraction.

In industrial plants this ability to convey foam is particularly useful - the Ford plant at Cologne together with Peugeot at Lille both use Liquivac® pumps within their respective machining shops to pump the foam produced by cooling liquid on high speed grinding centres to settling and filtration tanks before being re-used. The pumps are also extensively used within the nuclear industry both in the UK and in Europe, whilst marine applications include sewage, bilge and galley water extraction on both luxury cruise liners and military vessels.

However, it is the pumps' ability to extract every drop of liquid or foam material from containers that makes it particularly useful for those industries handling high value liquids. In distilleries throughout Scotland, the canny Scottish engineers quickly learnt that being able to pull the final two or three litres of spirit out of the bottom of spirit butts could maximise yields of the precious product - in one distillery alone, just one pump achieved a pay back period of just three months before the investment was recovered. Within the distillery, the long suction lines enable one fixed pump to cater for numerous spirit containers at varying distances.

With Tomlinson Hall now recognised as the BPMA's Pump Distributor of the Year for the past three years, the company is distributing other OEM's products on a truly global scale with sales from the Far East to South America for a wide variety of manufacturers. This recognition also helps them to introduce their own Liquivac® pumps to relevant customers, as Tomlinson Hall's Sales Director, Colin Simpson, added, "All our manufacturers know we produce our own range so there's absolutely no conflict of interest - Liquivac® pumps are simply another range that we sell, they simply happen to be made by ourselves - and the pumps are for more specialist applications than some of our other products."

"We built our reputation as a distributor through our ability to offer totally impartial advice for pump specification and then to deliver and service those products. Liquivac® pumps are for specialist applications so we don't sell them in huge numbers but it does give the team a special kick to sell one of our own!"

What's particularly pleasing is that in Teesside, surely one of the hardest hit parts of recession UK, there's a British manufacturer of a world class specialist engineering product that's not only unique, but actually a world leader.

Tomlinson Hall Ltd, winners of the Pump Industry Association's Distributor of the Year Award for the past four years, was established in 1919 as a general engineering company and has now grown into a specialist manufacturer and distributor for pumps, power transmission equipment and engineering supplies employing some 23 staff. The company manufacture their own range of Liquivac® pumps in addition to acting as UK distributors for a variety of both UK and overseas manufacturers, including Grundfos, DEPA, ELRO, Alfa Laval, Flowserve and Richter Pumps, part of the US-based Idex Corporation.

For further information, please contact:

Tomlinson Hall & Co Ltd

Lagonda Road
Cowpen Lane Industrial Estate
TS23 4JA
Tel: 01642 379500
Fax: 01642 379501
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