Because of the global nature of the industry, cooperation with ESA continues to strengthen. Joint research projects have been subsidized by the members of both organizations to develop fundamental understanding of specific sealing mechanisms. A task force actively manages contact with regulatory and legislative bodies as energy conservation and protection of the environment remain a concern. Contact with members of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy (DOE), representatives and senators has been initiated in support of regulation and legislation where the use of improved sealing systems contributes to the goals of increasing public welfare and industry competitiveness.
What are the positive impacts of those efforts?
Henri Azibert & Greg Raty: Activity to reshape the organization will increase the value proposition to our members and increase our presence in the markets we service. We have experienced an increase in participation from younger individuals who are playing vital roles in the implementation of completed and ongoing projects. This fresh energy affects other areas of FSA and its member companies and enhances the value we ultimately bring to the market through our individual companies and the geographic areas we service.
What are the biggest challenges for the sealing industry right now?
Henri Azibert: In line with the requirements for increased containment of emissions and reduction of energy and water consumption, most plants are required to do more with less. The increase of plant outputs well beyond their original design is common. This stresses the equipment and the personnel who maintain that equipment. Levels of pressure, speed, temperature and vibration all increase. Equipment upgrades are required to maintain the expected level of reliability, especially with shaft seals that tend to be the most highly-stressed components in the system. Much emphasis is placed on low equipment acquisition cost at the expense of long-term effectiveness or life-cycle costs. Proper application and operation of equipment have become more essential. Unfortunately, this comes at a time when experienced personnel are disappearing and manufacturers are focusing on their core competency of producing certain goods, as opposed to having expert knowledge of the equipment used to make the product. FSA can help by being an effective knowledge resource with regard to how to select and apply the proper seal type or design.
One trend is the lack of qualified personnel in some industries. An experienced generation is leaving the workforce through retirement. Less experienced professionals are replacing these positions and taking on greater responsibilities. Qualified individuals are essential to safely operate any large industrial complex, making the transition a challenge.
What are FSA’s goals for the remainder of 2013?
Greg Raty: Through our newly established Standards Coordinating Committee, FSA has set in motion a systematic and consistent review of published materials (articles, reports, tables, charts, guidelines, standard, etc.) to regularly ensure that all content is current and accurate. This ensures reliability and brings clarity to our evaluation process and gives more recognition to our members and the markets we service.
Our Marketing Committee has coordinated webinars, news clips, videos and social media interaction. We continue to work as an association to achieve our goals. The efforts of our Government Affairs Committee, along with the ongoing initiatives to increase end-user interaction with the FSA will remain our primary objectives.