A new air-operated pump developed and manufactured by Tuthill Corp. is opening up new markets for products made at the company’s Fort Wayne facilities.

Tuthill’s division here already made electric pumps, “but that is limited in what it can do,” said Ben Freiburger, one of two engineers involved in the project from concept until launch.

Compressed air is the preferred type of pump for manufacturing uses. The new air-operated double diaphragm pump is allowing Tuthill to expand the products’ reach beyond agriculture and construction uses into manufacturing settings with pumps that can handle industrial chemicals, and do it more efficiently than other pumps on the market.

The development process started about two years ago with a little legwork. Tuthill representatives went out into the field to talk to customers to see what they wanted and what opportunities existed for a new product, Freiburger said. They incorporated what they learned into the design process, which took about another year before the pumps were ready for sale.

The Fort Wayne engineering department also developed a new affordable and easy-to-use digital fuel meter that has an internal pulser and electronics that allow it to be integrated with all the major brands of fuel management systems.

Among the innovations incorporated into the new pumps is a patented air-valve design that reduces pulsation. Most other pumps have to have a pulsation dampener added to make the flow smoother and reduce the potential for damage to equipment. In many cases, the Tuthill pumps can be used without a dampener, simplifying the pumping system and saving money.

The Tuthill pump also was designed to eliminate stalling and icing problems. Typically, in very hot, humid weather, with the rapid expansion of air, “it gets very cold. The pump will actually slow down and stop and you have to wait for it to thaw,” Freiburger said. By carefully controlling that air expansion, Tuthill’s pump is not subject to freezing problems.

Another advantage to Tuthill’s pump is that it was designed to be easier to maintain. A typical pump has more than 100 parts; “ours has 52,” Freiburger boasted. The pump also is constructed with a quick-turn threaded ring that eliminates the need for multiple fasteners on the manifolds and fluid caps, and makes it easier to access parts for repair and replacement.

“Some of our customers have said they went from a 45-minute tear-down to five minutes,” Freiburger said. “It’s very much that time is money.”

Additionally, no special tools are required — “you can even use your hand as a tool,” he said.

Tuthill, which markets its products under the Fill-Rite and Sotera brand names, has been focusing most of its sales efforts on end users.

“We headed into a very entrenched market,” Freiburger said, “a very loyal market. To reach out into that you have to have something better and be able to prove it.”

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