We work in an ever-changing industry. Fluctuating global energy demands have altered the way we operate and have replaced the old way of doing business. “Our industry is constantly shifting. Today, more than ever in the offshore industry, we are meeting and exceeding higher and higher standards for operation.” Jim Wright, President of the Valves & Measurement business segment explains, “Hand-in-hand with increasing demand for energy are increasing demands on our people – the only way to stay ahead of the curve is to constantly strive for excellence.” These higher standards necessitate more rigorous documentation, proven quality and ultimately increase operational demands.
As an industry, we are faced with the task of meeting these demands while confronting shrinking resources. With more and more funds dedicated to capital expenses, including commitments to roofline expansion, updating aging facilities, and adding newly developed technologies for manufacturing, there is stress put on other business functions requiring our financial resources, creating a larger margin for error.
As the workforce ages and retires, we have to rely on new talent, sometimes lacking the years of industry experience and know-how that the exiting personnel have accumulated. Currently, we are seeing a growing gap between the long-term labor force in their 50s and 60s, and the new talent just entering the job market, with very few people filling the experience gap between.
Increased Margin for Error
This stress on resources, coupled with increasing quality and procedural standards, creates an environment where we are more vulnerable to error and where the consequences of misstep are more significant than they have been in the past.
Sacrificing on Quality, Sacrificing on Safety
When we sacrifice on quality, we sacrifice on safety. “Our people are our most valuable asset. That’s why we must be committed to their safety, above all else. This has to be echoed throughout everything we do in the engineering and designing of state-of-the-art products.” Ron Mason, Director of Applications Engineering with the Valves & Measurement business segment says, “Especially in offshore situations, where there is no room for error. We know that the time and commitment we dedicate to the products and technologies we develop must be game changers for engineering advancements and offshore safety.”
When we forfeit this quality for a “quick solution,” we risk not only our most valuable asset, our people, but we also risk the environment we work and live in. Ultimately we increase our operational costs and financial burden, risk the degradation of brand reputation and jeopardize future work.
It Does Happen
Still, we’ve seen this happen. How do we mitigate risk when the appeal of a seemingly immediate solution requiring low resources is around every corner?
Quality in Manufacturing
This process begins with selecting a qualified manufacturer. the Valves & Measurement business segment Vice President of Strategic Alliances, John Furfey, advises “to partner with a supplier that procures materials responsibly, from the start. It’s important your manufacturer has high-quality, state-of-the-art facilities, with dedicated, skilled labor and established, vetted processes involving best practices and industry-recognized training.” In the end, reliability is key to maintaining safe operations offshore, and you have to go with someone who has the resources to fully deliver on commitments.
Quality in Testing
Choosing a manufacturer capable of in-house testing and one that is knowledgeable of industry standards ultimately makes delivery of product quicker, more cost effective, and controls quality from the beginning of the process. When verifying, there has to be a commitment to back the results and the capability to remediate and follow through on the initial specifications. Certifications, both for facilities and product quality, help to prove and speak to the level of excellence that a company has demanded of itself. To ensure this, even when resources are stressed, there has to be rigorous in-house auditing and transparent reporting.
Quality in R&D
Another key ingredient to reducing risk is to select a partner with a proven track record in the industry. Deep industry experience brings a R&D commitment to engineered solutions to problems coming directly from the field. While, as a whole, the US is expected to decrease spending on R&D in the future as a result of unfavorable economic conditions, approximately a third of companies in the Energy industry expect to increase their R&D spending budgets in the coming year1. By investing in the development of new technologies, we can create a safer, more reliable environment for offshore operations. Regionally, this means having a global install base of product where you are and knowing the unique needs and issues that could arise in specific areas.
Quality in a Global Network
Relying on qualified, authorized distributors and agents ensures that the project, from the beginning, is completed responsibly. Advancements in our global communication infrastructure have made it easier than ever to fall into a partnership with a middleman who is unknowledgeable of the unique needs of the offshore industry and is only interested in a commitment to short-term profit. Relying on someone who is not invested in the industry can only lead to shortcut solutions and a lack of attention to detail.
Ultimately, you need a partner that is more than a supplier. To secure offshore safety requires a strategic ally with comprehensive, after-the-sale and life cycle support programs. This includes someone who can promise responsible personnel training, recertifying on schedule, repairing and maintaining in-line product, and someone with a reliable, established warranty service record. It also includes being globally situated to provide service where and when it’s needed, at a moment’s notice and being backed by a network of support and locality-focused solutions.
Using superior, high-quality valves is essential to offshore operational safety, but to really promote safety, you must partner with someone you can rely on to provide quality in manufacturing, offshore field-proven experience, a qualified network of distributors and agents, comprehensive after-the-sale support and a global reach. The combination of these qualities in a business partner ensures that safety is at the forefront of offshore operations. In a volatile market with changing conditions, you cannot afford to sacrifice.
 Battelle Memorial Institute - http://www.battelle.org/docs/default-document-library/2013-R-and-D-Funding-Forecast.pdf?sfvrsn=4