Henry Peck is the president of Geiger Pumps & Equipment/Smith-Koch, Inc., and a member of Pumps & Systems Editorial Advisory Board.
Read more about The History of Pumps here.
The distribution and sales of industrial pumps has experienced great changes throughout the past decades.
In the 1960s and 1970s, it was common for pump manufacturers to have directly employed field sales forces or to have independent sales agents and representatives who engaged the onsite needs of cus-tomers. The pump applications expertise of those sales forces was often specialized in a narrow band of pump products. They had exceptional, even legendary, knowhow. Pump end users typically had complete installed spares for each application—in addition to owning uninstalled spare pumps and parts—and the in-house resources to provide the labor needed for repairs.
With time, the pump business community has progressed to a more efficient pump support model. Today's pump distributor is typically independent and regionally based and has pumps for nearly every application with expertise in variable speed, controls and other related process equipment.
The average-size pump distributor has grown along with the pump manufacturers they represent. Consolidations have contributed to the increasing size of pump distribution companies, as it has for pump manufacturers and end users.
|A Wilden distributor with one of the first AODD pumps. Photo courtesy of Wilden.|
End users continue to make gains in reducing idle assets by standardizing pumps and outsourcing in-ventories to the suppliers and their distributors. Distributors have made productivity gains through their economies of scale, including sourcing through online inventories with manufacturers and other distributors. Servicing the pumps that a distributor sells is no longer an option. It is a competitive requirement.
Not everything changes. The on-time performance for the supply of pumps is still challenged. Pumps and parts travel by courier at roughly the same pace today as many years ago. While reliability has in-creased dramatically, pumps are far from maintenance free.
The biggest cost in the life cycle of pumps continues to be energy consumption, with excess resources consumed, and nearly every pump installation having a more efficient alternative available. These are among the enduring reasons that we will find the future pump supply chain more important than ever.