Editor's Note: The editors of Pumps & Systems were happy to spend some time with new FSA President Ed Marchese and FSA Technical Director Pete Petrunich to discuss FSA's role in standards development, how they affect the sealing industry and the growth of the organization. Both experts were candid with their comments and provided important insight and commentary.
P&S: What is FSA's role in standards development, and how does it affect the industry?
Pete Petrunich: FSA's primary role is to engage in and support the development of fluid sealing-related standards. This most often consists of contributing input to the task groups and committees of organizations that publish widely-accepted standards, such as the API, ASME, ASTM International and 3 A Sanitary Standards.
The FSA is actively participating in the task groups on the fourth edition of the API-682/ISO 21049 and 3A Sanitary Standards for mechanical seals .We also provided input on sealing systems to the ASME EA-2-2009 Energy Assessment for Pumping Systems standard. The API & 3A standards provide the latest technology updates for formidable industry applications, while the ASME Standard addresses the critical issues of energy efficiency and sustainability.
Another important role is the development of internal FSA standards. In the cases where no sealing-related standards have been issued, they serve as the principal documents. Recently, our newly formed Heavy Industry Process Damper Division issued four standards describing tests for key functional characteristics of these products, none of which had yet been documented.
Where sealing standards do exist, FSA Standards respond to important needs not yet addressed in the industry. They are offered to leading standards organizations to help serve as a basis for one of their more visible standards. This helps advance sealing technology more quickly and effectively into the mainstream voluntary consensus process.
FSA Standards nearing publication include a guideline for the properties of elastomers employed in piping expansion joints and a test procedure for determination of the gasket factors M & Y used in design of flanges per ASME Section VIII, Divisions 1 and 2 Codes.
P&S: What has happened in the sealing industry in the last year that would affect our readers?
Ed Marchese: One very serious subject is the extremely volatile market conditions surrounding PTFE resins. What appears to be greatly increased demand for fluoroplastic resins in the emerging economies has pushed up PTFE prices drastically.
At the same time, a very serious shortage of the resins has developed worldwide. Frankly, there does not seem to be any relief in sight for this critical sealing material. It should also be noted that many other fluoroplastics are in a similarly tight market condition. They include PFA, MFA, FEP and PVDF, to name a few.
P&S: What seems to be the biggest challenge for the sealing industry right now?
Ed Marchese: The North American sealing industry is dealing with a number of serious challenges. As mentioned above, commodity prices are increasing, in some cases significantly. Shortages have also developed. Perhaps the most serious challenge continues to be the flight of the industrial manufacturing sector to the emerging economies.
The lower cost economies, especially those with large, captive, specialty, raw material resource supplies are proving to be a serious problem for the North American sealing industry and the European sealing industry, for that matter.
Finally, the reduction in industrial manufacturing has led to fewer manufacturing companies, necessitating company mergers in a number of cases. All of this has led to membership problems for both the FSA and European Sealing Association (ESA).
P&S: What is going on within FSA that our readers should know about?
Ed Marchese: Two years ago, the FSA established a Government Affairs Committee. Committee members have met with both government and non-government organizations in Washington, D.C., on two occasions to make them aware of the FSA. Our mission is to promote and make readily available our expertise in fluid sealing technology to key decision makers who are developing environmental, energy and workers' safety regulations, to assist in the interpretation and implementation of new regulations from the perspective of sound engineering, and to monitor legislation changes that will impact our member companies, and to provide a forum for the exchange of this information. Meetings in Washington, D.C., will continue on an annual basis. The FSA Strategic Planning Committee met with the ESA in February to discuss each association's strategic plan. Since the body of the fluid sealing technology in the world resides with association members, the unique opportunities of the FSA and ESA consist of a link to the end-user community and together are the single most reliable source of objective input on the application of fluid sealing technology—which has an impact on environmental and safety issues, as well as plant operation issues. The development of a users' group is being considered. This group will consist of end users who could offer suggestions and discuss concerns within their particular industries that utilize fluid sealing products.
P&S: What are the goals of FSA for the upcoming year?
Ed Marchese: Our strategic plan for this year, and beyond, is to continue to improve the value proposition of the association, increase FSA participation in external training, focus the technical direction of the association on the evolving the needs and wants of the market, maintain a Government Affairs Working Group, increase FSA brand identity and promote better cross-divisional understanding of best practices.
P&S: Through the years, can you describe how FSA has grown and changed and positively impacted the sealing industry?
Pete Petrunich: Through the years, the FSA has transitioned from an exclusive focus on member networking. Initially, the FSA served primarily as an effective forum for the exchange of information important to the membership businesses, which were primarily first in the U.S. and then in North America.
Over time, FSA has broadened its scope to international membership and a more global focus. This process was enhanced with the increased collaboration with the ESA on a broad range of issues—from standards to publications.
In parallel, the organization moved to a more technical focus on key sealing related issues, such as emissions containment, energy efficiency, safety and equipment reliability. This change occurred over a broad range of FSA missions from standards to education and training.
Strategic plans based on life cycle costs (LCC) principals provided direction for these changes as did market transformation initiatives such as Sealing Systems Matter. This has benefited the sealing industry in a variety of ways. Collectively, members are providing consensus responses to issues from tighter environmental regulations to health and safety requirements and energy efficiency. Technologies and best practices are being communicated and introduced by the industry more timely and effectively. This was accomplished in many cases through a focused approach to sealing system optimization. These changes also have demonstrated the ability of the sealing industry to respond with solutions to these increasingly tougher sealing challenges.
P&S: From your experience, can you describe some of the changes in the sealing industry through the years that have had a strong impact?
Pete Petrunich: There have been a number of important external changes that have impacted the industry. One of these has been the lingering affect of asbestos-related litigation. Prior to the 1980s, asbestos was the base material for a wide range of sealing products including pump packing and gaskets that were perceived as adequately serving user industry needs.
During the 1980s, there was a concerted effort by the industry to move away from these products and replace them with those that contained no asbestos. Material and design technology improvements since that time have led to the development of sealing products and systems that outperform their asbestos counterparts.
During the subsequent period, economic factors caused consolidation and restructuring within the industry. Globalization accompanied these changes, as well.
The 1990 Clean Air Act was another historic factor that affected the industry. Emission containment became an ongoing federal and regional issue, and tighter restrictions drove design and material development in the industry. These were coupled by increasing demands for greater reliability and longer mean time between repair (MTBR), a major challenge for dynamic sealing applications, such as pumps.
With globalization came the realization that many differing local standards exist across the globe for the same product or application. This often led to confusion and counter-intuitive requirements. Response included efforts to harmonize these national and international standards. One of the most successful results of that effort was the development of the AP1682/ISO21049 mechanical seal standard whose 4th edition is nearing publication.
More recently, energy efficiency and the related sustainability/climate control have become major issues. As a result, there has been renewed awareness surrounding the part that the energy efficiency of sealing systems plays in the overall improvement in pumping system energy efficiency.
Sealing products in general have met performance and reliability requirements unheard of only a relatively short time ago. This has come by way of the use of more advanced materials, designs and combinations of the two.
Sealing Technology Acronyms
MFA Perfluoroalkoxy (perfluoro methyl alkoxy)
FEP Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene
PVDF Polyvinylidene Fluoride
ASME American Society of Mechanical Engineers
API American Petroleum Institute
ISO International Organization for Standardization
PVRC Pressure Vessel Research Council
Ed Marchese joined Proco Products, Inc., in August of 1999 as executive vice-president. He was promoted to president in January 2006 and to president and CEO in January 2008. He is also a shareholder. Previously, Marchese worked for Holz Rubber Co. in Lodi, Calif., for 26 years, the last seven of those as president. He has been in the rubber industry since 1973 and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Humphrey's College, Stockton, Calif.
Marchese was elected president of the Fluid Sealing Association (FSA) by the Association Board of Directors in April 2010 at its spring meeting. Ed will hold this position through 2012. Marchese has been active in the FSA since 1985. This is his second time as a board member. He first served from 1997 through 1999. Marchese has also been chairperson of the Piping Systems Non-Metallic Expansion Joint Division and chairperson of the Ducting System Non-Metallic Expansion Joint Division during his tenure with the association.
Peter S. Petrunich
Pete Petrunich is the technical director of the Fluid Sealing Association and has over 30 years of functional and administrative experience with the technology and marketing of fluid sealing products employed in the gas, oil, petrochemical, chemical and power industries worldwide. He has held executive marketing and technology positions with Morgan Crucible, Plc. During his tenure with Union Carbide, Petrunich held positions in technology, marketing and manufacturing, which included application development of carbon-graphite and flexible-graphite-based sealing products.
Petrunich has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University and a Master of Science from the University of Toledo. He has authored a number of papers on topics related to the fluid sealing industry and edits the monthly “FSA Sealing Sense.” He also has held administrative responsibilities in a number of related trade, standards and technical associations.
Pumps & Systems, April 2011