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He designs the future

As a designer in Xylem’s R&D department, Patrik Andersson recently won an award for solving one of the most challenging issues in the water industry – how to keep a pump from clogging. Find out how he did it, and what keeps him going after 25 years in the business.

Dishrags, toilet paper rolls and plastic bottles – these are some of the tools that helped Patrik Andersson and others at Xylem develop the Flygt Adaptive N impeller, which prevents clogging and improves performance in pumps.

Andersson’s solution involved developing an impeller – the Flygt Adaptive N – that can move in an axial direction, so that the object is able to push the wheel upward and pass through the pump much more easily. The invention was recently awarded the Water Environment Federation 2011 Innovative Technology Award in the Collection Systems Category.

“We are constantly striving to improve our products,” Andersson says. “For me, it’s all about pushing the limits of what our pumps can do.”

The Flygt Adaptive N is far from Andersson’s first innovation. He’s been working at Xylem (then ITT) since he started college and has been involved in many developments in his time with the company. Now, 25 years and 10 patents later, he says he still really loves his job.

Xylem’s R&D department works closely with the company’s in-house laboratory, located on the bottom floor of its Stockholm operations. The lab mainly focuses on the performance of the pumps, including pressure and hydraulics. Rags and PET bottles are used to test resistance in the pumps.

 “If you want to learn more about something, you can send your request to the lab for tests,” says Andersson. “However, I like to conduct my own tests, as I may see things differently – and I don’t want any information to get lost along the way.”

“Problems pop up all the time,” Andersson concludes. “But problems are meant to be solved, and that is why I am here.”

by Sara Wilk, Photo: David Magnusson