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Storms showcase added value of Volvo Penta

During one of the United Kingdom’s wettest winters on record, Volvo Penta-powered pumps supported the Environment Agency in helping save the day, shifting more than 1,320,000 cubic meters of water daily during the height of the flooding.

As flash flooding, tidal surges and storms wreaked considerable havoc across the United Kingdom, the British government’s Environment Agency enlisted Pioneer Pump to support them in minimizing the damage. Across the South of England, around 10 Volvo Penta-powered pumpsets were mobilized in each affected county; in all Pioneer Pump managed to move 2 billion cubic meters of water from flooded areas across the country during the winter months.

Typically pumpsets to counteract widespread and persistent flooding would have to be imported from Holland. However, as time was of the essence, Suffolk-based Pioneer Pump, a global leader in pump sales and rentals, was enlisted to get its Volvo Penta-powered pumpsets out to the most badly affected areas immediately.

According to the Met Office, the UK’s weather service, winter 2013-14 was one of the most exceptional periods of winter rainfall in almost 250 years. Records showed that December and January were the wettest two-month period since 1910. The rainy season began in late October, when St. Jude’s storm caused four fatalities and left 625,000 homes without power. Conditions continued to deteriorate in December, which was recorded as the stormiest month since 1969. In February the Thames River reached its highest level in 60 years.

Initially three pumps fitted with Volvo Penta’s TAD943VE Tier 3 engines were dispatched to help control flooding in some of the UK’s most affected areas. The pumps were so quick and efficient at containing urban water damage that Pioneer Pump was asked to send its entire fleet of Volvo Penta-powered units to assist the Environment Agency.

The bigger the better
Somerset County in Southwest England was one of the country’s most affected areas, with more than 17,000 acres of countryside and farmland flooded. Here Pioneer Pump mobilized its largest 450mm high-flow pumpsets, installed with Volvo Penta’s 16-liter TAD1643VE engines. By increasing the engine’s size and capabilities, the number of pumps required could be decreased.

In the past a large number of vehicles, cranes and personnel would have been needed to help transport and operate so many pumps. However the combination of larger engines and fewer pumps meant that work could begin immediately, without the need for a long lead time to carry out preparations.

“The installation of Volvo Penta engines in the pumps definitely made a huge impact in the flooding situation,” says Simon Ruffles, Pioneer Pump’s managing director, EMEA. “One pump fitted with a Volvo Penta 16-liter engine can move over 3,600 cubic meters of flood water per hour. Competitors would need to use 12 of their pumps to achieve the same results.

“In an emergency such as this one, transportation and preparation time had a significant impact on how quickly we could deal with the urgent situation. But bigger engines and bigger pumps require fewer trucks for hauling, which in turn reduces the environmental footprint.”

A successful partnership
With Volvo Penta engines greatly improving the pumps’ efficiency during the winter flooding, the equipment was able to move more water using less fuel. A typical UK tanker carries around 20 cubic meters of water and during the height of the flooding more than 60,000 trucks’ worth of water was being moved by Volvo Penta-powered pumps each day – equating to 90 million trucks’ worth of water during the four month period. Shocking figures such as these prove what a successful partnership Volvo Penta and Pioneer Pump made.

“We are delighted to have Volvo Penta as our engine partner,” says Simon. “The power output of a Volvo Penta engine in relation to their size made them ideal for our units.”

With any luck the coming winter will be a dryer one for the UK. Nevertheless, with the success of the Volvo Penta engines, Pioneer Pump has been invited to support the Environment Agency in the future, should a similar situation again.

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