Sustaining a Healthy Canal

The work of topping up the water to our canal never ceases and it is sustained by our robust Pump House equipment and controls, all maintained by our highly experienced Engineering Department. Water is lost from the canal for a variety of reasons but mainly each time a vessel is locked in and out by raising and lowering the lock water level through sluicing. Nearly 120,000 cubic meters (120 million litres) must be pumped into the canal every day to replace this lost water – the equivalent of 48 Olympic sized swimming pools!

Our historic Pump House has a striking presence, with the building completed during the 1950s. The Pump House controls however are fully modernised to carry out the essential task of maintaining the water level in our canal all year round. In recent years, we have begun to harness the power of green energy to complement our modern Pump House controls. 

Fast and Effiecient Controls

New control panels were installed in our Pump House in 2018, incorporating modern technology including soft starts - a device used with alternating current electrical motors to temporarily reduce the load and torque in the power train and electric current surge of the motor during start-up. This reduces the mechanical stress on the motor and shaft, extending the lifespan of the system.

Pump House Controls

Human Machine Interfaces (HMI’s) and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC’s) have also been configured for remote access and viewing. Annual tide forecasts are uploaded into the PLC’s which automatically calculates running times for the whole year. To assist this operation the PLCs are connected to radar level sensors monitoring the canal and sea levels so they can calculate when to start the pumps and for how long they need to run, usually around 3 hours per tide. To work efficiently the pumps run around the high-water period which reduces the height the water is pumped, in turn reducing energy consumption. 

Inspections and Maintenance 

As well as state-of-the-art Pump House controls, we ensure our canal is maintained at a healthy level with regular checks and planned maintenance of our equipment. Gary O’Neill, Senior Engineering Manager commented “Because of the harsh working environment in addition to weekly and monthly maintenance checks the chambers must be dammed off and pumped out for a thorough annual inspection. The pumps themselves are lifted using our gantry crane and sent off every few years for a complete overhaul and service by a specialist contractor. With remote monitoring and control our Engineers can access the fault log, diagnosing faults early to ensure reliability and keep the Port running smoothly.”

 28 Pump House Tunnel Harnessing Green Energy 

Our pumps take advantage of green energy and consume electricity produced from our wind turbines. Norvento installed our two 100KW turbines in 2016 which feed electricity directly into our Pump House. Our turbines produce an annual average of 555,000 kWh of electricity, matching the energy demand of the Port's pump house that they are connected to. Wind energy forms part of our wider energy strategy, of which solar power is also playing an important role.

 As an Eco-Port we are always looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint and wind turbines are an excellent way to do this, while also giving us extensive financial savings and operational benefits. Not only will the Port save tens of thousands of pounds in energy costs over the next twenty years, the carbon payback for the construction of the wind turbines themselves is only 7-9 months. This is after taking into consideration manufacturing of the steel, transport, erection, operation and maintenance.  Offering an onsite energy supply, the versatile nED100 machines also ensure increased flexibility for operations by compensating for voltage fluctuations caused during start-up of the pumps.

771 Wind turbines

Highly Skilled Workforce 

We have a highly skilled team on site with a diverse and specialist range of skills. Training is provided on a regular basis to keep the teams skills up-to-date, ensuring we always have a versatile and experienced workforce on hand to keep the Pump House in good working order. Brain Rousell, Director of Engineering commented “Our planned maintenance regime for the pumps and screens has kept them working very reliably since they were installed in the early 1990’s. However, we do have unexpected events and the team always react brilliantly, bringing into action our contingency plans to keep the Port running.”

 Swimming Pool Infographic Top Five Facts 

• We have three pumps and one on standby
• Running three pumps would fill an Olympic size swimming pool in just five minutes
• Each pump weighs four tons and has a 400 volt, 185 kilowatt rated motor
• Our pumps pump 8,500 tonnes of sea water an hour through underground steel pipes, raising the whole canal by 100mm
• The canal which is an impounded expanse of water stretches 1.6 miles from Hove Lagoon to the lock gates at the West end of the Port