About Randal Ferman

I have more than 35 years’ experience in the pump industry. During my 32 years with Flowserve, a global pump manufacturer, I was responsible for assignments in order engineering, field technical services, hydraulic design, training and product development involving a broad range of pump types and applications. In 2009, I became a full-time principal of Ekwestrel Corp in Los Angeles, providing independent, objective engineering consulting services on new and existing pumping equipment and systems. Connect with me on LinkedIn here.

The User’s Role in Pump Reliability


This introductory 20 minute webinar, with Randal Ferman of Ekwestrel Corp, discusses what operations and maintenance can do to improve pump reliability. Pump reliability directly affects process availability. When the cost of pump downtime in terms of lost production is factored in, the real costs of operating and maintaining pumps can be significantly higher than O&M costs […]

How Precise Is Your Pi?


The date March 14, expressed numerically as 3/14 or 3.14, provides an irresistible excuse to anyone with even a hint of nerdiness in them to associate it with the mathematical constant pi. So you ask ‘how does all of this attention to an abstract number relate to pumps?’ Well first of all, pumps have rotating […]

The Scope of Pump Reliability

The Scope of Pump Reliability

Thirty (30) some years ago I skimmed through an exhaustive study of the possible modes a prototype nuclear pump could fail and the probabilities connected with these events. In the report, the first reliability study I had seen, there was no discussion on how to influence or change failure probabilities. Absent a linkage to changing […]

An Opinion on Nuclear Power

View of Units 2 & 3 containment buildings for San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, retired June 2013

[Offered to the Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee of the Office of Nuclear Energy, U.S. DOE holding an open meeting on December 10th] If nuclear power generation is to have a future here in the U.S., the nagging issues surrounding spent fuel storage, nuclear waste and environmental radioactive contamination must be fully resolved. The scope of […]

Pump Systems Optimization Course Concerns 40% Average Efficiency


(Press Release) Less carbon dioxide emissions, better reliability, and significant energy savings available when pumping systems are optimized. Randal Ferman, a lead editor for Optimizing Pumping Systems: A Guide for Improved Energy Efficiency, Reliability & Profitability, published by the Hydraulic Institute, is pleased that Bill Livoti will conduct the Pump Systems Optimization Course on October […]

Common Centrifugal Pump Terms in Plain English


The terminology of a technical subject is key to understanding it. The language of modern pump technology has evolved for well over a hundred years. During this period, meanings of terms have changed. Good definitions are sometimes difficult to find. In nearly four decades of experience I’ve located key terms and their useful meanings. In […]

Power Plant Pumps – Maximize Your Uptime & Reliability: 3-Part Webinar Series from the Hydraulic Institute


If you are involved in selecting pumps or designing, operating and maintaining pumping systems for electric power generation plants, consider attending the Hydraulic Institute’s Power Plant Pumps – Maximize Your Uptime & Reliability: 3-Part Webinar Series. The presenter, Bill Livoti, and I have worked together on a number of Hydraulic Institute projects including the book […]

Suction – It’s Not What You Think It Is

Upside-down glass of water

Suction is often defined as a force that causes a fluid or a mixture to be drawn into an interior space. Some dictionaries more accurately define suction as a force or condition produced by a difference of pressures.  Both definitions are correct. However, the first tends to support the illusion that suction is the action […]

Which pump engineering units do you use?

Metric and USCS mass equivalency

It was over 35 years ago when I began what was to become a career in pumps. The company was Byron Jackson, an American firm headquartered in Los Angeles. US Customary System (USCS) units remained prevalent within the company despite its international manufacturing presence and a growing global adoption of metric. Years ago there were […]

WEFTEC 2012 Chopper Pump video

This short video shows a demonstration of Vaughan’s Chopper Pump at WEFTEC 2012.  There are also a couple of photos of Exhibition Hall events – the Operations Challenge “Safety Event” and “Collection Systems Event”.  I ran into Charli Matthews and Jessica Hottinger from Empowering Pumps online magazine (shown very briefly at the beginning).  

Castaic Lake Hydroelectric Power Plant Facility

Main room of the powerhouse. One of two 375-ton bridge cranes visible.

Castaic Power Plant Tour, September 14, 2012 In the parking area Lois checked off the names of arrivals.  Waiting for the final guests, I had 10 minutes to visit with some former colleagues from Flowserve before start of tour. Incidentally, this plant belongs to a short list of the world’s largest pumped-storage installations and is […]

Are you going to WEFTEC 2012?


WEFTEC 2012 promises to be a massive industry event that you shouldn’t miss. It will be taking place September 29th – October 3rd 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. This conference ranks among the largest in any business, trade or professional category. About the conference: WEFTEC, the Water Environment Federation’s Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference, is […]

Castaic Lake Hydroelectric Power Plant Tour


For all Californians: There is a rare opportunity to tour the Castaic Lake Hydroelectric Power Plant.  This joint AIAA and ASME Tour takes place on September 14th, 2012.  About the Castaic Hydroelectric Power Plant (from ASME): The Castaic Power Plant is a hydroelectric project which provides peak-load power from the falling waters on the West Branch […]

Is there an ideal impeller vane number?


Centrifugal pump design and manufacturing has been around for over 200 years.  If there were an ideal impeller vane number, it seems likely someone would have discovered it by now.  However, just because an ideal vane number has not yet been established is not sufficient reason to consider it doesn’t exist. Single stage pump and […]

What is the connection between Suction Specific Speed and Minimum Flow?

Suction specific speed and inlet vane angle

The connection between suction specific speed Sω (NSS) and minimum flow (Qmin) is that, in general, a higher value of Sω (NSS) is associated with a higher value of Qmin.  Beyond that generalized statement, however, there is wide range of deviation and exception. For rotodynamic (centrifugal, mixed-flow and axial flow) pumps suction specific speed is the main […]

Critical Pump Selection Webinar – Video

critical pump selection three major issues webinar video

After the success of my webinar, I am making a recording of it available for everyone who was not able to attend, and those who wanted more time to go over the material and illustrations. Thanks again to everyone who attended the live webinar! If you want to hear about future webinars, subscribe now for […]

Centrifugal Pumps Second Edition – A Book Review

Centrifugal Pumps, Second Edition by Johann F. Gulich

The first pump text book I purchased when I began my career in pump engineering 36 years ago was Centrifugal and Axial Flow Pumps by A.J. Stepanoff.  At the time, in the US anyway, that book was considered an essential text on the subject for centrifugal pump engineers.  Gülich’s Centrifugal Pumps Second Edition is now today’s […]

Impellers – why underfile?

Underfile Performance Curve Chart

Underfiling is the removal of material from the underside (also back side, “non-working” side, or suction side) of an impeller vane at the inlet or the exit.  In this article, underfiling will refer to the exit.  The terms “underfiling”, “back-filing”, “S2 cutting”, and “Sv cutting” are equivalent.  There are probably others.  A related term is […]

Should pump users care about axial thrust?


Normally the user shouldn’t have to care about axial thrust.  Pump failure from an axial thrust-related problem is relatively uncommon.   But very few, if any, pumps are entirely immune to this class of problem. Why is this?   First of all, a rotating single-entry impeller wants to move in an axial direction and usually with lots […]

What is the Purpose of Minimum Flow?

Chart of pump phenomena and minimum flows

Over the years use of the term “minimum flow” has evolved.   Decades ago industrial centrifugal pump manufacturers quoted a single, relatively low value for minimum flow intended to prevent users from running their pumps to destruction.  The term “minimum flow” generally meant the lowest continuous flow the pump was permitted to operate, without reference to […]

Hydrodynamics of Pumps (2011 edition) – A Book Review

Hydrodynamics of Pumps, 2011

Hydrodynamics of Pumps by Christopher E. Brennen was first published in 1994.  Aside from my long-time professional acquaintance with the author, what caught my attention in this book are the various technical passages related to rocket propulsion turbomachines, including the Space Shuttle Main Engine.  Over the years I would hear about the technical issues with these […]

Diffuser versus volute


The stator section of a centrifugal pump, after flow exits the impeller, is usually either a ‘diffuser’ or a ‘volute’. The purpose of each of these two stator types is to efficiently diffuse velocity energy into pressure. Diffusers are characterized by a plurality of radially symmetric diffusing passageways surrounding the impeller. Either a volute-shaped or […]

Pump Handbook Fourth Edition – A Book Review

Turbine-Driven Mainline Pump: by Randal Ferman, Ekwestrel Corp

Years ago I owned a copy of Pump Handbook 1st Edition, by Karassik, Krutzsch, Fraser, and Messina.  While it was a book to have on the shelf, it was not my primary source of pump engineering reference material.  I obtained most of my pump technical information from other books and publications.  Eventually someone “borrowed” my […]

Korea – A Year In Review


This year I’ve visited South Korea (Korea) five times.  The destination has always been Changwon City so most of my experience and observations of Korea relate to that locale. Any Westerner’s experience with Korea inevitably starts with the food.  Yes, most have heard of kimchee and Korean BBQ.  But until you’ve had a traditional Korean-style […]

Beyond expectation

Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, I was out shopping and stopped in at REI, an outdoor gear and clothing store.  I stepped over to the watch display case thinking I might buy a replacement for my 2-1/2 year old Freestyle sports watch.  Its wrist band was coming apart and due to the precision molded rubber […]

Downsizing the pool pump


About four weeks ago our swimming pool pump quit.  I don’t know the exact date, but our pool guy, Randy, left us a note.  We didn’t see the note, so a week later on his weekly visit I was home and he let me know about the pump.  The motor was frozen and couldn’t be […]

Horizontal or Vertical?


In selecting a pump for a given application there is sometimes the option of choosing either a vertical or a horizontal shaft pump arrangement. For instance, in a process plant certain product transfer applications might be performed by a can-type vertical pump, or a vertical in-line pump, or a horizontal process pump. Large capacity cooling […]

My first WEFTEC


This week I had my first WEFTEC experience.  I live in LA and WEFTEC was held at the LA Convention Center, so I drove on over to see the exhibits.  I thought I’d walk through and see everything in one day.  Wrong.  A person could physically walk through every aisle in each of the three […]



With fuel prices creeping up again I thought it appropriate to share some of my experiences with hypermiling.   “Hypermiling” is a method of increasing your car’s gas mileage by making changes in the way you drive.  It can also include changes in the way you maintain your car, including tire pressures, fuel grade, and oil […]

Specific Speed – Does it Matter?


To the pump engineer or pump manufacturer specific speed is terrifically important.  To the specifying engineer or user – maybe, maybe not. The term specific speed comes up frequently in pump literature, in technical papers and is always covered in pump text books.  It is frequently heard in pump technical banter and if one doesn’t […]