Pumps & Systems staff spoke with Aris Chicles, President, ITT Industrial Process, about the major trends to anticipate in 2017 for instrumentation, controls and monitoring, as well as other industries.

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?

With the ongoing retirement of longtime employees with knowledge of pumps and rotating equipment, our customers are looking to partners like ITT Goulds Pumps and ITT PRO Services to help them fill the gap, whether through our expertise or technologies. For us, it’s been a great opportunity to further partner with our customers and to also introduce them to some new technologies that have tremendous potential to help them drive improvement in areas ranging from uptime to total cost of ownership.

We’ve been seeing over the past few years that as customers lose some of their institutional knowledge, we have been able to step in and take on responsibility to service, maintain and repair rotating equipment in their facilities. In addition, we have been able to work with maintenance managers and technicians to familiarize them with the benefits of affordable smart technologies like our i-ALERT2 Equipment Health Monitor to track the performance of their equipment.

What are the most important innovations for 2017 in instrumentation, controls and monitoring?

The surge and evolution of Internet of Things not only benefits the consumer industry, it also enables the industrial sector to use the technology to develop smart devices that are not only affordable and easy to use, but also provide performance data of their equipment that is useful to keep machines running longer and more efficiently. This trend will continue into 2017 with focus on leveraging the vast amounts of sensor data collected to deliver meaningful outcomes of how the machine is performing.

ITT is particularly proud of our i-ALERT2 Bluetooth Smart Equipment Health Monitor and the Pump Smart PS220 Intelligent Variable Speed Pump Control and Protection System.

The i-ALERT2 device is a “Fitbit” for pumps, motors and any rotating equipment, enabling customers to identify potential problems before they become costly failures. It tracks vibration, temperature and run-time hours and wirelessly syncs the data with a smartphone or tablet through the i-ALERT2 mobile app. It also has the ability to trend information and diagnose machine faults with vibration and other analysis tools. It is easy to operate; all users need to know is how to operate a smartphone and they can have continuous monitoring for their equipment set up in minutes. Since its launch in May 2015, we have had the advantage of an early entry into this space and the customer feedback has been invaluable allowing us to continually evolve the technology.

Our PumpSmart platform is another example of how data analytics and domain expertise can be combined with standard variable speed technology to deliver a truly “smart” machine. The new PumpSmart PS220 combines variable speed control with advanced sensorless algorithms that determine critical performance parameters and provide valuable process and diagnostic insight. All this leads to greater efficiencies, flexible production, longer lasting and safer equipment.

What are your predictions for the oil and gas market in 2017?

Having gone through a surge of new investments between 2009 and 2014, capital projects in the oil and gas market has been low in the past two years as oil prices remained below $50 per barrel. Looking ahead, 2017 is expected to be more of the same as 2016, with low oil prices and abundant oil and gas output being higher than overall demand.

With CAPEX and OPEX likely to remain low or further depressed, oil producers globally are likely to stretch their existing assets. Maintenance spending has been delayed well beyond traditional turnaround cycles. Companies have pushed out MRO activities in 2016 and we expect some of these delayed activities to fall into 2017.

Companies with products/services that help oil and gas producers reduce operating cost and improve operating efficiencies will have opportunities to partner with the producers. With our expansive portfolio of products and services to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) and improving uptime, ITT Goulds Pumps is well-placed to support customers improve efficiencies in their operations.

What trends/activity are you seeing in mining, desalination, chemical processing, pulp & paper, etc.?

As mentioned earlier, maintenance spending for all market segments has been delayed well beyond traditional turnaround cycles. We see this across all market segments.

Mining continues to be slow in CAPEX but increasingly we are seeing mining customers, and customers in several other industrial segments but in particular mining, seek our expertise to improve their plant performance with long term contracts. With today’s tight business conditions, companies have reduced costs and perhaps lost expertise that we can offer.

To read more Q&As from industry leaders, click here.