The Life Cycle Cost is just as much a fundamental metric as it is complex. It is common, in scientific literature, to compare it to an iceberg. Only a few elements of the whole are clearly visible, while most of them are hidden and difficult to identify. In a similar way to the massive ice structures, the parts that are not easily visible can be those that impact on your boat or on your plant expenses the most. Often when thinking of the cost of a centrifugal pump, one tends to focus on the purchase or installation costs. In fact, the Life Cycle Cost is the result of every circumstance in which the machine exists in the plant, through its whole usable life. This is why when purchasing a centrifugal pump or reviewing the expenses of your plant, the Life Cycle Cost is the first variable to take into account. By helping you to trace back the origin of each item of expenditure that depends on your machinery, the LCC provides precious insights on how to lower your plant's costs and optimise production.

In more details, as defined by the Centrifugal Pump Lexicon by KSB, the LCC can be expressed as an equation:


Cic = Purchase costs

Cin = Costs of installation and commissioning

Ce = Energy costs

Co = Operating costs

Cm = Maintenance costs

Cs = Costs resulting from unplanned downtime and loss of production

Cenv = Environmental costs

Cd = Decommissioning and disposal costs

One way to lower the overall LCC cost is to intervene on each variable of the equation. According to Flygt’s study, each of the eight variables that constitute the Life Cycle Cost of a centrifugal pump has a different weight (graph 1). In this article, we will be focusing on four of them: energy costs, maintenance costs, operational costs and downtime costs.

The Life Cycle Cost of a Centrifugal Pump by Flygt

1.  Energy costs

Energy costs are the best starting point as in centrifugal pumps they constitute the most impactful variable. According to Flygt’s study, in a typical wastewaters pumping system energy costs can come to represent 34% of the whole LCC.

There are many ways to tackle your energy costs, as in turn, they depend on many other sub-variables. However, the best way is to “know your BEP”. Every pump has a Best Efficiency Point, defined by the developed head and flow volumes that make the pump operate in the most efficient way. When our solution is plugged into your machine, it starts reporting data on your dashboard right away. In particular, by monitoring the vibration profile of the pump, the AiSight machine learning algorithms identify the BEP and deviations from it, thus helping you improve efficiency and decrease energy costs.

Last but not least, the iceberg comparison serves another purpose too. Expanding your horizon on the expenses produced from your machinery can give you a wider overview not only of the costs arising in your plant, but also in the world.  If you are using centrifugal pumps in your plant, you probably know that these machines account for 20% of the world wide energy usage. And probably tackling this problem is also a high priority point in your CSR strategy. Innovations brought forth by Industry 4.0 not only aim at increasing your factory's productivity, but also at lowering its toll on the environment. When you look at things that way, a solution that can help you monitor the energy consumed by your machine acquires a whole new meaning.

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2.  Maintenance costs

The second important variable is maintenance costs, that can be divided into two sets: planned and unplanned maintenance. Planned maintenance is usually scheduled by the operator according to the needs of each machine, as per the supplier’s recommendations. Unplanned maintenance becomes necessary when unforeseen events cause the machine not to operate regularly. A typical reason for centrifugal pumps to undergo unplanned maintenance is clogging.  AiSight can help you troubleshoot this problem in two ways.

First of all, by helping your machine operate at BEP it makes it easy for the operator to calculate the clogging instances that could happen in a year.

Secondly, when a pump starts clogging, the machine vibration’s behaviour changes and the AiSight solution will alert you via email, SMS  as well as in your AiSight dashboard. Not only it will notify you of the occurrence, but it will also advise you on the best maintenance strategy you should adopt.

Detecting modifications in the standard behaviour of the machine is what Predictive Maintenance - and thus AiSight - is all about. Such precautions can result in a decrease in your normal maintenance costs by 50%.

3.  Downtime costs

Downtime costs are those costs that result from an unplanned stoppage of production. As Grundfos clarifies, not always downtime costs correspond to a loss of production. However, they do represent a loss of comfort. They mainly include the costs arising from the procurement of replacement parts and the actual reparation of the machine, all happening in an emergency. To tackle this means either reducing the occurrence of downtime or/and being ready for when it happens.

For the first case, Predictive Maintenance is the answer again. By monitoring the condition of your machine through vibrations analysis, AiSight can help you increase uptime by 30%. This results in avoided repair costs and extended useful life of your equipment.

On the other hand, being ready for downtime means that by knowing the behaviour of your machine, you can allocate more accurately the resources that are necessary for repairs and spare parts.

4.  Operating costs

Operating costs are those that refer mainly to the labour in charge of performing ordinary tasks on the machine. These include taking care of the physiological wear and tear that results from industrial operations, cleaning the system and of course supervising it. By centralising the overview of all assets in one place and giving you the optimal maintenance strategy, the AiSight solution helps reduce operating costs of unnecessary supervision tasks.

Dive deeper and wider

In conclusion, if we kept the similarity of the Life Cycle Cost to an iceberg always in the back of our mind, it would be possible to have a much clearer overview of this tricky metric. Focusing only on the tip of the iceberg is never the winning strategy: it happens often in a plant to spend a long time negotiating and speculating on one variable - the initial cost, that only represents 10% of the whole! Whereas, intervening on the four variables discussed in this article means producing a tangible impact on 72% of the costs resulting from your centrifugal pump.This is possible with the AiSight solution. If you're interested in monitoring the condition of your machines to predict and prevent downtime and optimise the use of your machine, reach out to us.

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