WORKSHOP PRESENTER JEREMY McBRIDE OF PHASE TECHNOLOGIES LLC
The former water well and pump contractor brings a unique perspective in explaining the misapplication of VFDs.
By Mike Price
There will be a variety of workshops on variable frequency drives at Groundwater Week 2021, including one being presented by a former water well and pump contractor.
Jeremy McBride, sales manager at Phase Technologies LLC in Rapid City, South Dakota, will present “VFDs—The Magic Pill Myth—Misapplication of VFDs.” The workshop will focus on how a variable frequency drive (VFD) cannot allow equipment to run outside of its design point without consequences. Attendees will learn how to avoid the consequences.
McBride, who worked as a Texas water well and pump contractor for nearly 10 years, became a branch manager for a wholesale pump and supply company in 2015 where he worked for the next five years. He then moved into manufacturing with Phase Technologies where he works in concert with several departments within the company.
To help educate contractors and distributors, Phase Technologies launched Phase University in February 2021 with McBride teaching all of the classes. Phase University hosted five groups of contractors and distributors from February through April with a mix of classroom and hands-on training at its new facility in Rapid City. Phase University will host two more groups this fall and again next winter.
It is important for installers to read and consider what the capabilities of their pump design are, using a VFD pump curve or other data provided by manufacturers, to ensure a long healthy life.
Water Well Journal was eager to check in with McBride to discuss VFDs and find out more about his Groundwater Week 2021 workshop.
Water Well Journal: The title of your workshop is intriguing. What are you hoping to convey to attendees and be the take-home message?
Jeremy McBride: The workshop titled “VFDs—The Magic Pill Myth—Misapplication of VFDs” will challenge listeners to consider the limitations of a pump system and the role VFDs play in protecting what’s important.
WWJ: What are some of the most common mistakes you see made in the field from those not knowing the limits of the pumping equipment and properly sizing the VFD system for the application?
McBride: First, I would have to say the term “magic pill” was coined by a contractor I met during my time spent as a distributor. This is the term he used to describe how VFDs had been sold to him. As my time in distribution grew, it was evident that he was right.
Many contractors were hooked on the myth that so long as you had a VFD, you could pump a system at 5 gallons per minute or 50 gallons per minute without consequences, or that all the motor protections would somehow be set for you straight out of the box.
Another area of concern is the application and understanding of what type of VFD is necessary to comply with utility standards and voltages. Understanding when 6-, 12-, or 18-pulse drives are acceptable versus an Active Front End drive can be the difference between failure and success. With the growth of IEEE519 power utility regulations around the country, installing the wrong VFD can be an expensive mistake.
WWJ: How can contractors avoid the costly consequences of not properly sizing the VFD system for the application or knowing the limits of the pumping equipment?
McBride: It is important for installers to read and consider what the capabilities of their pump design are, using a VFD pump curve or other data provided by manufacturers, to ensure a long healthy life.
Program yourself for protection. Many VFDs have a start-up feature that will get your pump equipment going and are designed to get you to the 10-yard line, but that is as far as they go. Most of the application-based protections are found by understanding how different parameters work and the menu structure of your VFD.
WWJ: With Phase Technologies being the only company that designs and manufactures a VFD system with an output to run a pumping system and a digital phase converter to run a pivot at the same time, what troubleshooting tips can you share for contractors?
McBride: It is important to understand the load requirements for your drive and phase converter to ensure the correct supply cable and converter is chosen. While horsepower is a good indicator of where to start, always look to the manufacturer’s current ratings to properly size not only your cable, but the equipment that will handle the workload.
WWJ: As the company name suggests, Phase Technologies developed the world’s first digital phase converter, called the Phase Perfect Digital Phase Converter. What questions do you receive most from contractors trying to choose the right phase converter?
McBride: Where is the motor? Most phase converters rely on a motor that is twice the size of their load requirements to create their third leg of power. Phase Technologies does it digitally, with 98.7 percent efficiency, voltage balance within 2 percent, and standby losses comparable to that of a light bulb.
WWJ: Phase Technologies’ product development efforts were founded on the notion that “there’s got to be a better way.” How does the company elicit feedback from contractors in the field to help develop its products?
McBride: That’s easy. We do what everyone does: Listen to what our customers have to say. What separates us is our ability to do more than listen and find a way to deliver what the customer is really asking for—a product that provides uncommon value to their business.
If you could trace the roots of each of our products back to their origin, you would no doubt see a couple of guys just leaning on the tailgate of a truck over a cooler in a farmer’s field hearing the statement, “It would be nice if. . .” being tossed around.
WWJ: What future advancements in VFD systems do you envision that will make its way into the water well market?
McBride: VFDs will continue to become more intuitive as the market evolves and becomes increasingly more comfortable with what role a VFD plays in the industry.
WWJ: Lastly, how excited are you to present an in-person workshop?
McBride: Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to attend Groundwater Week as both a contractor and a wholesale distributor. This will be my first time as a manufacturer and I am excited to share a perspective that is somewhat unique to the industry.
Mike Price is the senior editor of Water Well Journal. In addition to his WWJ responsibilities, Price contributes to the Association’s scientific publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (800) 551-7379, ext. 1541.