Industry Insights

Editors' Note: Mark Sullivan, director of marketing and education at the Hydraulic Institute/Pump Systems Matter Educational Foundation, contributed to this article.

Continuing education is a cornerstone of maintaining the integrity of the pump industry. It ensures that workforce members remain current on industry issues and that they work efficiently and effectively. Because required knowledge now encompasses the entire pumping system, those in the pump industry need a broad range of skills and in-depth understanding of new methodologies and regulations.

A growing concern among pump manufacturing sectors in the U.S. is the need to maintain a dynamic workforce. If young engineers and other technical professionals are not recruited, retained and developed to replace retiring workers, the U.S. could lose ground to foreign manufacturers.

Burdened with tuition loans, many college graduates seek greener pastures in higher-tech industries that often offer more attractive starting salaries than the pump industry.

Training programs in pump systems optimization could help attract and retain talent by providing education that supports long-term career growth. Through these training programs, young engineers can extend their knowledge of pump technology and gain skills essential for enhancing the efficiency and reliability of entire pumping systems.

A successful workforce development program must be uniquely suited to a manufacturer’s mission and internal operating environment. In many cases, using external training services from third-party providers helps expand the scope of workforce development and increase customized training on essential topics.

Education & Workforce Development

Technology has reached an exponential growth rate across many fields such as artificial intelligence and cognitive learning in conjunction with the emergence of wireless sensors, predictive analytics and adaptive control systems.

Many manufacturers also are rapidly adopting 3-D printing and adjacent technologies.

To keep pace with future trends, pump and related equipment manufacturers, parts replicators and repair service providers must develop a digital strategy to align their business models with these new realities. Senior management teams that do not quickly adapt risk their businesses’ viability.

Educating both new and existing employees at all organizational levels is critical for making these adaptations.

A national effort is necessary for an entire industry, including its manufacturers and essential stakeholders, to make rapid adjustments. In the U.S., the Department of Energy (DOE) and its Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), is funding many Innovation Institutes to develop and transfer technology, as well as educate the industry on underdevelopment technologies.

The ultimate goal is to revolutionize American manufacturing while reducing industry’s carbon footprint.

The following is a sampling of some educational aims and tactics:

  • Use e-learning as a primary educational vehicle. Courses will be developed primarily for universities, community colleges, trade schools and test beds (i.e. train-the-trainer programs).
  • Incorporate “pull” educational strategies, tactics and tools rather than “push” (i.e. adult learning with correlative relevance to create fuller understanding and enhanced context).
  • Evaluate suppliers to develop course content while providing platforms to disseminate training material to students at the university or workforce levels.
  • Develop a set of short courses focused on energy-reduction strategies for each plant using existing DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) resources, such as Superior Energy Performance, and plant benchmarking.
  • Drive training vertically through trade organization members and non-member trades that support energy-intensive industries.
  • Drive training horizontally through National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnerships.
  • Use DOE EERE Industrial Assessment Centers (IAC) located in 24 universities to educate and evaluate small- to medium-enterprise energy programs.

Workforce development and education planning across DOE-funded Innovation Institutes will coordinate curricula, content and delivery to ensure a consistent experience while avoiding duplication.

These initiatives provide a tremendous opportunity for the pump industry to effect the adaptive changes necessary in their respective organizations.

Hydraulic Institute Programs

The Hydraulic Institute (HI) provides in-depth education about emerging topics such as pump system efficiency and sustainability as well as emerging governmental regulations. To address these areas, HI offers certificate courses focused on understanding, managing and assessing pump systems for optimum operation and efficiency.

Through these programs, HI is extending education beyond member companies to address engineering consulting firms, owner-operators, distributors, young engineers and pump users. Course content covers the latest methods and guidelines for effective application, testing, installation, operation, maintenance, and overall optimization of pumps and pumping systems.

HI will continue to develop a suite of certificate courses that provide fundamental knowledge of pumps and their operation as well as more advanced certifications that address pump efficiency, sustainability and new government regulations.

Other Tools

Developed with the pump workforce in mind, these workforce programs are designed to supplement corporate training and individual enrichment. They also work alongside HI pump standards, guidebooks, webinars and live classes on a variety of topics and issues.

For example, the HI Pump 101 course provides an overview of centrifugal and positive displacement pump technologies and discusses key engineering concepts. HI offers instruction on operating pump systems more efficiently and how a pump systems optimization process identifies problematic areas for energy savings improvement.

Also available is the free online P•SMART software tool that helps with pump selection decisions by calculating the friction loss and net positive suction head available for a particular pump. The software tool helps users understand the interactions between the pump and hydraulic system.

HI also works to raise awareness among young engineers and scientists of new opportunities related to the pump industry and its expanded applications through the national Capstone Design Program. The program engages universities, engineering students and corporate pump industry sponsors in design projects and offers practical experience and insights into emerging technologies.

HI also partners with academia and pump end users on research programs focused on pumps and systems. Through these studies, graduate engineering students are introduced to pump applications and challenges in different industrial systems.

See more Industry Insights by Mike Pemberton here.