Centrifugal Products VP, Ryan Canter, Featured in Turbomachinery International
Ryan Canter, Vice President Sales and Marketing, Centrifugal at Epic International, discusses the centrifugal compressor aftermarket, the skills shortage, and how to improve compressor maintenance.
Tell our readers briefly about Epic.
Headquartered in Houston, TX, Epic International was founded in 2015 and serves the global energy and industrial engine-compressor market with parts, repair services, and field service. Our entire business is focused on the engine-compressor aftermarket without the distraction of a new equipment business. Epic Air, a division that focuses on centrifugal equipment, became a resource for the centrifugal compression aftermarket with the 2016 acquisition of Air Relief of Mayfield, KY. We have two established domestic repair facilities (Houston and Mayfield, Kentucky), a team of OEM factory-trained technicians, and the new Air Relief and TurboLogix brands. This allows us to serve the world’s 50-60 Hz market and comply with major quality requirements.
What new services have you recently added?
In the spring of 2018, we became a full supplier of parts, repairs, field service, and technical support for Atlas Copco® HP, ZH, ZT and ZR rotary screw compressors.
What trends have you observed?
The demand for high-quality manufactured parts, and the maintenance cycles that consume such components, have not changed much over the years. What has changed is the availability of key components as equipment owners and suppliers have cut inventories to reduce long-term costs and improve cash flow. This trend has opened up an opportunity for those compressor component suppliers with a customer-service mindset and that are willing to stock inventories in multiple locations globally.
What trends have you observed with centrifugal compressor repair?
As the cost of impellers, diffusers, and inlets has risen, demand for repair services has increased. This has been a trend in the North American market for some time. But we are starting to see much higher demand for creative and quality repair services in Europe and the Far East. Epic has repaired rotors from 37 nations in the last 24 months, which is an increase of 15 nations during the previous 12 months.
What new services have you recently added?
In the spring of 2018, we became a full supplier of parts, repairs, field service, and technical support for Atlas Copco® HP, ZH, ZT and ZR rotary screw compressors. We recently added a full-service aftermarket program called EpicCare that allows the equipment owner to turn the entire compressor maintenance program over to Epic Air. This “contract maintenance” program combines planned maintenance, parts discounts, extended warranties, and our new TurboLogic controls system to provide a maintenance program that improves compressor performance and reduces maintenance costs.
What trends have you observed in field service?
The most impactful trend is retirement of skilled field service professionals. As workforces diminished, companies have not replaced these workers quickly. This fosters the need for full-service turnkey suppliers with senior field service staffs and mechanics. It is expensive and difficult to find skilled people for this kind of work. Customers are turning to aftermarket suppliers to supplement their own maintenance efforts.
How has the experience level of operations and maintenance personnel changed over time?
There has been a huge loss of experience in the field which drives organizations like Epic to focus on technical training and continuous education of employees and customer personnel. We conduct centrifugal compressor seminars in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. We cover theory, operations and maintenance.
What would you recommend plants do when they are experiencing heavy personnel losses?
Reach out to technical schools, create internship or apprentice-type programs, and invest in internal training. These are long-term commitments that must be planned and funded carefully, or the results will be less than inspiring. In lieu of these efforts, there are many contract-type services offered by compressor repair suppliers. Turning your maintenance program over to a repair expert can reap many benefits if the program is jointly planned and executed.
Is there any company news you wish to communicate?
We recently hired Mike Pelezo as our Vice President of Service and Operations, and John Sargent as our Chief Executive Officer. Both are compressor industry veterans with a combined 50+ years of experience at companies like Cameron, Schlumberger, Spitzer and El Paso Corp.