Editor’s Note: The editors of Pumps & Systems spent time with incoming Fluid Sealing Association (FSA) President Greg Raty and FSA Technical Director Pete Petrunich to discuss FSA’s role in standards development, how they affect the pump and seal industries and the growth of the organization. Both provided expert and candid commentary.
How does FSA’s role in standards development affect the pump and seal industries?
Pete Petrunich: Sealing systems remain the key to the containment of process fluids in pumping systems that impact costs, as well as environmental stewardship—including the loss of product, emission control and energy conservation. FSA’s support of external standards development provides sealing technology experts with consensus contributions to help ensure that these standards include the latest, most effective technology for the reliable containment of process fluids. They help provide the basis for establishing the requirements for a fully functioning pumping system that meets or exceeds environmental standards and is energy efficient.
he development of the fourth edition of American Petroleum Institute (API) Standard 682 represents hundreds of man hours of volunteer technical support by FSA member companies supported by FSA staff. Portions of FSA publications were referenced during its development.
While it is still being finalized, the fourth edition arguably could not have been possible without FSA technical support. The seal industry was positively affected by these contributions in many ways, including the harmonization of common terms and definitions.
The impact of FSA standards is not limited to the pump. It can extend through standards developed by FSA. One example is the FSA-PSJ-703-11 Standard, Guidelines for Elastomers Used in Piping Systems Non-Metallic Expansion Joints. It provides the typical properties of elastomers used to form the critical tube and cover components of an expansion joint.
Supporting the development of emission requirements and other key external standards also extends beyond the pump. FSA contributes to the development of standards that include the recently published second edition valve packing emission standard, API 622, and valve emissions standard, API 624, currently under development.
What has happened in the sealing industry in the past year that would affect our readers?
Greg Raty: There is an ongoing concern related to the supply of raw materials. The recent trends related to fluid handling products appear to be improving for many manufacturer’s, which in turn, have dictated higher material costs. While monitoring these trends can be helpful, demand within emerging economies has increased costs and continues to be a serious concern.
What is the biggest challenge for the sealing industry right now?
Greg Raty: The availability of properly trained employees and finding qualified personnel continue to be challenges to industries. Retaining qualified, skilled workers for installations and application reviews has also been a necessary but challenging objective. Determining how to best position your business in these areas may dictate the level of success experienced.
What is going on with FSA that our readers should know about?
Greg Raty: In recent years, FSA has taken a more proactive external approach to the industries we service. Within our increasing membership, we have a wealth of knowledge and experience reflected in the divisions and their technical committees, working groups and special committees.
At a recent European Sealing Association (ESA)/FSA strategic planning session held in Munich, Germany, both executive committees reviewed and discussed several strategic initiatives. Some of these were related to end-user awareness, participation in the development of industry standards and reliance on FSA technical standards and ESA guidelines and protocols. Efforts are being made to ensure and regularly maintain continuity among member companies.
In December 2011, members of our Governmental Affairs Committee met in Washington, D.C., with congressional aides and some representatives to inform them of the purpose, capabilities and activities of FSA. We were provided with an overview of some legislative activities taking place in Washington and within other associations.
In some cases, FSA may choose to play a more active role. In particular, we were given a copy of the Shaheen Portman Bill, directed to “promote energy savings in residential and commercial buildings and industry and for other purposes.” Awareness of this initiative will help FSA promote the importance of sealing system energy conservation through the use of the best available technology.
What are FSA’s goals for the remainder f1of 2012 and 2013?
Greg Raty: Currently, our Marketing Committee is finalizing the process and structure required to deliver regular webinars to the industry. This along with our upcoming newsletter, which will be distributed regularly, should provide a consistent platform for FSA to further promote our brand while establishing greater value to our members.
Involvement in social media is another area in which we see additional opportunity and value. We are determined to deliver our educational message to younger members who tend to be attuned to different modes of delivery. Value to our membership and industry will also be enhanced through continued collaborations with other associations such as ESA, the Hydraulic Institute (HI), Texas A&M, Fluid Leak Management Users’ Group (FLMUG) and others.
How has FSA grown and changed through the years?
Pete Petrunich: Today, FSA is a marked departure from the time of its inception, both in size and focus. Historically, the focus was heavily on member networking. Initially, FSA served as an effective forum for the exchange of information important to member businesses, which were primarily located in the U.S. and then extended to all of North America.
Geographically with time, FSA has broadened its scope to international membership and a more global focus. This process was enhanced when ESA was established in 1992. Increased collaboration with the ESA on a wide range of issues—from standards to publications—served to energize a more global approach to common issues.
During the last 15 years, FSA more rapidly transitioned from a forum for information exchange to one more technically focused on key sealing-related issues—such as meeting or exceeding emissions requirements, energy efficiency, safety and equipment reliability. This complements the needs of the user community and the changing value proposition of the members.
Changes were implemented through a broad range of FSA missions—standards, education and training. Industry consolidations also affected the growth of the organization enhancing the need to be more responsive to all member needs and values.
Strategic plans developed throughout the last 10 years more effectively focused on the needs of the members and provided greater value to the user community. These provided direction for the necessary changes. Since the plans also included metrics, a more structured approach to implementation of the FSA Mission, such as education, has been made possible. This has improved the association in many ways.
More timely industry consensus responses are being provided, including tighter environmental regulations, health and safety requirements and energy efficiency. Technologies and best practices are also being communicated and introduced more timely and effectively through direct interaction with industry user-manufacturer groups, such as the nuclear power FLMUG and petroleum/chemical process based Pressure Vessel Research Council-Sealine Reliability Council (PVRC-SRC).
What are some of the positive impacts of FSA’s efforts?
Pete Petrunich: FSA contributes materially to the development of more reliable and readily implementable standards published by trade organizations such as the API and 3-A Sanitary Standards. The contributions also extend beyond North America because of our close collaboration with the ESA.
Collaboration with the British Pump Manufacturers Association (BPMA) on the development of an energy efficiency-related ISO standard is one example. FSA standards have served as the basis for, or a component of, the more highly visible American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) standards. This means a timelier introduction to the market since some or all of the base work on the standard has already been completed by the FSA.
Technical educational material, such as the mechanical seal and compression packing manuals, help supplement webinars and short courses focused on the pump industry. This happens either directly or as the basis for other pump industry group training efforts, such as those of HI.
Members of FSA provide the presentation material and make the presentations. Courses also are held at venues convenient to attendance by the members of the pump industry, such as the Texas A&M Pump Users Symposium. Webinars have served to provide awareness of issues not fully apparent to the industry, such as the role of sealing systems in energy efficiency improvements.
The recently updated FSA Life Cycle Cost Estimator Tool has given the pump industry a convenient way to more effectively determine what sealing systems provide the lowest total cost of ownership. This invaluable software is available for free from the FSA website, as are FSA standards and access to other educational materials. They underscore FSA’s commitment to providing accessible sealing industry consensus education.
Pumps & Systems, April 2012