Domestic Water Pump Controller
Microcontrollers Technology creates low-cost, easy to commission and use products
Technologies used

Microcontroller, electromechanical and analogue electronic technologies

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    29 Pumps and compressors

Salamander Pumped Shower Systems Ltd has 20 employees, 9 for marketing and services at Bedford, and 11 at its Sunderland site where it manufactures a comprehensive range of positive (natural flow exists) and negative-head (no flow exists) automatic water pumps to boost water pressures for house or shower specific applications. The company has existed for 14 years as a manufacturer of electrical pumps for domestic, small commercial clients and building material market with an annual turnover in 1998 of 1.5MEUR. The industrial sector is 29 "Tools and Machinery" and is categorised under 2912 "Pumps and compressors" in the NACE system widely used throughout the EU.

The company has expertise in the design and production of small regenerative and centrifugal pumps together with control systems using electromechanical and analogue electronic technologies. Salamander's existing pumps consist of combined pressure and flow switch with a timer using conventional electronic circuits operating relays. The pumps are extensively used in household systems to pump water when there is a demand.

The object of the experiment is to modernise the negative head pump's discrete analogue control unit, sourced from outside the UK, to incorporate a microcontroller that allows for a reduction in wiring, production costs and size, which improves pump plumbing and reliability. Salamander decided to make component independent development using high level language. The solution adopted has been optimised for two different types of microcontroller, ensuring a second source supply. The use of a common tool for both microcontrollers is a good choice for this application.

The new product integrates the control circuitry within the pump package to eliminate the external wiring required for a mounted control unit. A total cost of 51.878KEUR allowed the development and test of a new microcontroller based system to monitor the flow as well as the fault conditions associated with the ingress of air and loss of supply water, with an electronic System Management for power saving and apparatus safety. The negative-head application was completed during a 10 months period from the 1st of October 1998. The company estimated a 15KEUR budget for product industrialisation.

The company 1998 annual production of 9500 pumps of which 450 are configured as Negative Head types will be trebled due to the introduction of microcontroller technology and hence achieve a return on investment of 348.5% on prototype cost, and a payback period of 10 months.

Obtained Benefits

- The experiment has equipped the company with the capability to design and manufacture microcontroller based products and hence make the company more responsive to market changes and less dependent on 'bought in' control elements or subcontractors.
- Expand Salamander market share and provide efficient products to domestic and industrial clients.
- Strong cost benefits due to integration of control unit into the pump package (reduction of installation and maintenance time and costs) and the elimination of externally purchased controls.

Salamander Pumped Shower System Ltd
Unit 43B,
Leechmere Industrial Estate,

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

Microcontroller, electromechanical and analogue electronic technologies technology provided Salamander Pumped Shower System Ltd with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.

Further information   Guiding Technology Transfer Node
For further information and support regarding this case study, please contact a Technology Transfer Node (TTN) in your region.
Homepage: http://www.fuse-network.com
Bolton Institute of Higher Education
Technology Development Unit
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