Pumps & Systems staff spoke with David Aldrich, Product Manager, Weir Flow Control, Floway, about the major trends to anticipate in 2017 and how the landscape of the pump industry 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 had a few areas in which the retirement of a longtime employee has created a skill and knowledge gap. We have tried to put training programs in place in advance of the retirement in order to minimize the impact.
What are the most important innovations for 2017 in instrumentation, controls and monitoring?
Yes, I would agree that controls and monitoring has been the most important innovations going into 2017. We are currently marketing such technology to our various customers especially in the mining industry.
How do you see governmental regulations impacting the market in the coming year?
We are seeing additional opportunities in the power market and particularly in the coal fired plants which are being forced to reduce their coal combustion residuals (CCR) as part of the EPA’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
Also, the loosening of EPA regulations could have a positive impact on the O&G industry and specifically the pipeline and shale drilling sectors going into 2017.
What are your predictions for the oil and gas market in 2017?
I believe the price of oil will gradually rise during the year to levels which could allow for a release of capex resources by the major O&G customers. This, in turn, should increase the project activity especially domestically.
What trends/activity are you seeing in mining, desalination, chemical processing, pulp & paper, etc.?
In mining, the push is towards aftermarket due to the lack of original equipment CAPEX as a result of the continued downturn in metals pricing. There is an increase in domestic desal activity, especially in the water/wastewater market.
What kind of year will this be for water/wastewater?
The activity for water/wastewater has been very good for 2016 and into 2017. However, we do not see the major multimillion-dollar domestic projects being planned for 2017.
There is hope that a proposed stimulus program being discussed by the incoming administration will spur some additional activity.
What general business trends/challenges do you foresee for the future?
Our primary business challenge is the continued slump in O&G and Mining projects which accounts for a large portion of our business activity.
I see a continued trend towards the marketing of complete outside of the flanges solutions including M&C as well as revamp opportunities.
What can end users expect to see in 2017, and what should they do to prepare?
As an OEM, I believe the end users can expect to see continued price competition as a result of the various depressed markets. Unless these sectors start to rebound there will be continued tightening of the end user CAPEX budgets, especially in the private sectors.
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