Pumps & Systems staff spoke with Eric Van Gemeren, Vice President, Product Management and R&D, Flowserve, about the major trends to anticipate in 2017 and how the landscape of the pump industry and related markets will change.
How is departure of longtime, knowledgeable employees due to retirement, etc., affecting your company, and what steps are you taking to fill the resulting employee skills gap?
We have identified the impending departure of longtime, knowledgeable employees due to retirement, etc., for several years. We have implemented training to transfer this knowledge (especially tribal knowledge) to younger associates. The pump industry is going through a contraction phase as a result of the economy, particularly for companies that are heavily involved in the oil and gas industry. This results in the transfer of products, consolidation of facilities, and reductions in force or lack of hiring. The transfer of knowledge that has been ongoing for several years is softening the impact of these changes.
How do you see governmental regulations impacting the market in the coming year?
In Europe, government regulations have been enacted that drive the efficiency of pumps in order to save more energy. I suspect we will see the same action in North America over time. So far the impact has been limited to smaller pumps up to 100 horsepower. This makes sense since this is the volume market. For larger pumps, there is a lot of emphasis on energy efficiency during the acquisition phase.
What are your predictions for the oil and gas market in 2017?
Flat to 2016.
What general business trends/challenges do you foresee for 2017 and beyond?
The trend is definitely towards more instrumentation and the application of the Internet of Things, more monitoring and preventative/predictive maintenance. That requires infrastructure and solutions to protect data, limit access and ensure safety from hackers. All of this is more aimed at the service side of the business rather than the new equipment side.
What can end users expect to see in 2017, and what should they do to prepare?
With the consolidation of resources at suppliers, there are bound to be gaps in service and end users are going to struggle to fill in the gaps themselves or find alternates. Suppliers focused on the aftermarket and providing complete service are going to be the highest value providers to end users. This leads to long-term relationships where both the end user and the supplier are committed to collaborating to provide goods and services that result in the highest value proposition. It makes economic sense in the long run.
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