The Pumps & Systems team talks to people throughout the pump industry, from the CEO to the end user, from Europe and the Middle East to across the United States, and one topic that comes up again and again is the need for more professional training. Our readers drove this home during the magazine’s last readership survey, when many answered that they read Pumps & Systems to become more educated about pumps. “The magazine contains good articles on pumping basics that are good for sharing with young plant engineers,” one reader wrote.
We are thrilled that readers turn to us for in-depth knowledge about pump basics and trends in the industry, and we know thorough training at different levels of one’s career is necessary and desired. So, we asked members of our EditorialAdvisory Board to weigh in on the skills gap epidemic in the pump industry and provide insight to what is most needed from newcomers today. Here is what they had to say on in-school, on-the-job and continuing education.
P&S: What do you find most challenging for newcomers to the pump industry?
John Malinowski, Industrial Motor Consultant: Newcomers need to understand standards and regulations, which are not taught in engineering school.
Todd Loudin, President, Flowrox Inc.: For any newcomer, one of the most difficult tasks is getting familiar with all different types of pumps. One type may have certain advantages in certain applications and also disadvantages. Being astute enough to make the right selection or recommendation can be a daunting task for even a seasoned professional. Even various manufacturers of the same type of pumping technology can have extreme differences in performance and reliability.
Joe Evans, Ph.D., Retired Customer & Employee Education, PumpTech, Inc.: Understanding basic hydraulics and alternating current (AC) power.
Lev Nelik, Ph.D., P.E., APICS, International Center for Pumps Research and Development, Israel: Taking time to do training.
Tom Angle, P.E., MSC, Geschaeftsleiter (CEO), Swiss Flow Solutions GmbH: Many issues that must be dealt with on a day-to-day basis, such as net positive suction head (NPSH), specific speed, flow versus head (Q-H), and pump and system interaction, are generally not covered in colleges and universities.
Jim Elsey, general manager, Summit Pump Inc., principal, MaDDog Pump Consultants LLC: Great, big, huge vacuum — or lack of reliable and consistent technical information. There is no one good source for a basic overview of the whole field. Even for engineers, there is a shortage of specific knowledge and places to acquire the knowledge.
William Livoti, Retired Senior Pump System Engineer and Consultant, JKMuir: The biggest challenge for newcomers in the pump industry is the limited amount of training available. Evennew graduates from engineering schools are totally unprepared for the real world.
Equipment OEMs tend to focus their training on their product lines, which does nothing but confuse the newcomer. Insufficient pump system training is a chronic problem in the industry, along with the lack of pump system standards.
Jack Creamer, Market Segment Manager – Pumping Equipment, Square D by Schneider Electric: In many areas the pump industry is thought to be a relatively mature industry, with little change in the making. For several years, that stereotype may have been accurate. But for the last five-plus years there have been several changes that make the pump industry “new” again. Two examples include the Department of Energy (DOE) legislation around energy efficiency. For the first time, pumps have minimum efficiency requirements assessed to them, so manufacturers must design and manufacture pumps that meet these standards, which has resulted in a degree of both product enhancement and product obsolescence. A related impact revolves around the “pump system” that must also meet efficiency standards, which in parallel has led to “smart pump systems.” So, to sum up, a pump is no longer just a pump, but it is an energy efficient device embedded in an efficient pump system.
P&S: What is the most important area to be trained in today?
Malinowski: Applications and best practices are important. Learn the shortcuts and best ways to do things from the folks who have done this for years.
Loudin: Many pumps in the future will have IIoT and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. The more people who understand the possibilities and benefits, the better they will be at selecting the correct pumping technology for given applications. Also, with this intelligence, real data can be captured to prove pump availability and reliability.