The mechanical seal industry, like the pump industry, will continue to face significant opportunities as well as challenges as we progress further into the globalized 21st century.
Chief among these are:
Increasing demand for efficient high performance products and services
Continuing and increasing demand for global agreements/alliances to maximize operations
Increasing need for high end technology for progressively demanding and exacting applications
Increasing pressure on price reductions and commoditization of high tech products
In global exploration and production, the oil and gas industry is already facing conditions where sealing products have to perform under extremely high pressures, low temperatures, abrasive services and dry running applications.
As the industry continues its drive for new sources of oil and gas to serve the increasing global demand, it will move to new fields, such as deep water and declining wells-all with unique operating environments and constraints. Think about the unique operating requirements associated with oil sands and oil and gas fields in the Arctic zone.
Technologies Offering the Most Competitive Impact
Our new sealing technology is poised to impact both abrasive and dry running conditions. High pressure, elastomer-free designs will help cope with both extreme pressure and temperature applications. This innovation will extend running times and provide greater reliability for pumps, compressors and other critical equipment-with performances previously unheard of for mechanical seals.
Competitive global supply networks will be a requirement to let us cope with the demand generated by integrated global agreements.
Significant investment in R&D and high profile talent will make a difference in the marketplace for such high demand in technology.
Highly efficient operations, using methodologies like Lean-Six Sigma, will surely impact the industry's competitiveness. The intensive and increasing use of Information Technology and Smart Systems will also help companies provide the most competitive products and services to meet the market requirements.
While new technologies and sealing concepts will continue to impact the industry and our collective ability to compete, several non-technology related issues will also play a significant role. Included in this list is our ability to persuade the global market to embrace Life Cycle Costs in making decisions about mechanical seals and their associated systems. The Life Cycle Cost Estimator developed by the Fluid Sealing Association is one tool.
Having industry embrace this concept will help:
Identify opportunities to significantly reduce energy, operating, and maintenance costs
Reduce energy consumption, emissions, and waste-an environmentally responsible approach
Make industry more competitive in the global markets through increased productivity
There is a need for suppliers to work together with buyers in today's complex buying process to demonstrate the convenience of buying smart versus buying cheap.
Health, Safety and Environmental issues will be increasingly important issues in managing our business into the future. The potential financial and legal implications of HSE issues will play an expanded role.
Continued concerns about environmental impact will also provide potential opportunities for the high end global players.
In closing, while we will be facing an increasingly complex and global market, we need to remember that our success still lies in identifying and understanding the changing global customer demands, develop those products and services to meet these changing requirements and provide outstanding customer service-plus 1.
As we look to the future, we must recognize that we will need to embrace continuous innovation in the increasingly complex global markets. Innovation is both our challenge and our opportunity.