Special Report: Editor's Comment: Rotating equipment play critical role in the downstream industry

Energy-starved world actuated large-scale R&D works for developing energy-efficient pumps and systems.

Martin Menachery, editor, Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East.
Martin Menachery, editor, Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East.

Rotating equipment can be found in applications across the refining and petrochemicals manufacturing industry. Globally, the rotating equipment industry witnessed dramatic progress in the last few decades.

Industrial revolution, post-World War II expansion and growing energy crisis were the major drivers for the development of rotating equipment in the last century. During the last 50 years, acute energy shortage, rapid environmental challenges and intensifying global competition have triggered a faster growth for rotating equipment industry.

For years, energy-starved world actuated large-scale R&D works for developing energy-efficient pumps and systems. Similarly, fast-emerging environmental challenges led to better sealing of pumps, including sealless, magnetically coupled pumps. More recently, with rapid globalisation, the fluid engineering and other technical challenges have been considered to be solvable by the multinational companies, which lay emphasis on quality, productivity and faster delivery of products to seize their global market share.

The refining industry, involving complex processes, poses a lot of challenges to the rotating equipment industry. The processing of crude oil in refineries is a multi-stage process in which crude oil is transformed into refined, high-quality end products or feed materials for the petrochemical industry. There are risks such as insufficient lubrication and dry running due to volatile material constituents, low boiling points, and media with a diversity of physical properties. These factors should be taken into consideration in order for the rotating equipment to perform to the desired expectations. In modern downstream facilities, the standard requirement of rotating equipment comprises operational reliability, convenient maintenance and necessary environmental protective measures.

Downstream industry units will continue to constitute the largest market for rotating equipment, since they process fluids, gases and semi-solid materials, the direction and control of flow of which require substantial investment in rotating equipment and related products. The refining and petrochemicals manufacturing industry, the most significant process manufacturing market for rotating equipment, will have the most rapid strides for the end-user market. Gains will be driven by the improved outlook for fuels and petrochemicals production, the ongoing need to maintain and upgrade capacity, and continuing environmental concerns. With environmental regulations becoming more and more stringent, intelligent industrial rotating equipment can turn out to be a crucial element to reduce emissions, improve efficiency and limit the use of process water.

With available technical skills, engineering aptitudes and reasonable research and development, majority of the rotating equipment manufacturers offer products at very competitive prices. Many companies in the organised sector and some in the medium-scale sector have also attained quality certifications. So, the rotating equipment industry has a consolidated position and should lead a steady growth.

With continuous improvement in efficiency, productivity and service, and support from the regional governments, the rotating equipment industry can not only withstand the pressures from the end users, but also prosper in the race of ever-escalating global competition. 

Pump industry in general, and process pump industry in particular, for their expansion, largely depend on the state of other industries. With industries such as refining and petrochemicals trying to expand to the global markets, process pump industry stands to gain a lot, albeit at a slow pace.

Rotating equipment consume about 30% of total power produced and are liable to consume more and more energy with ever-growing complexity of the applications. Making rotating equipment much more energy-efficient is bound to encourage their increased use, and hence the growth of rotating equipment industry. Reliability and precision are of utmost importance when considering control strategies for any type of rotating equipment in the downstream industry.  

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