The Hydraulic Institute: Supporting Workforce Development and Optimizing the Pump Industry


The Hydraulic Institute (HI) is a member-based trade association group that brings together the manufacturers of pumps, motors, drives, and other pumping equipment to create standards and improve the state of the industry. In this interview, Executive Director Michael Michaud tells us more about HI’s work in the pump industry, workforce development resources and support of pump efficiency driven by the Department of Energy regulations. 

Best Practices: Please tell us about HI.

Michael Michaud: HI was founded in 1917 by a group of pump manufacturers interested in standardizing how pumps were commercialized. The first standard that HI developed was the pump test standard, which provides a basis to compare different pumps’ performance towards meeting the specified performance criteria. Today, HI maintains 36 ANSI/ HI Standards and a variety of guidebooks for various applications, including pump applications in commercial building services, pump system optimization and variable speed pumping, among many other topics as well as free white papers. Membership has grown as well, HI has over 120 members, including pump manufacturers but also suppliers of critical components for pumping systems, such as motors, drives, seals, bearings, and so on. In addition, HI has a growing group of partners who are not manufacturers but align with our core interests. Standards partners include engineering firms that design and specify pumping systems and end-users like municipal water and wastewater or chemical processing facilities. Training partners include end-users and other organizations which both contribute to and consume training through Pump Systems Matter., Pump Systems Matter (PSM) was established as a subsidiary educational organization dedicated to training people on pumps and pumping systems. Over the years, HI’s activities have also expanded into the certification of people, products, and processes as well as training. 

Michael Michaud, Executive Director, The Hydraulic Institute.

 

Best Practices: Tell us more about PSM.  

Michael Michaud: Pump Systems Matter (PSM), HI’s educational foundation, supports the industry regarding strategic, broad-based energy management and pump system performance optimization by providing the marketplace with training, tools, and collaborative opportunities that progress sustainability practices into normal business operations.  PSM provides product neutral training on energy efficiency, reliability, and effective applications of pump systems through an extensive catalog of live, virtual, and on-demand courses and webinars.

Best Practices: As executive director, what is your role within the Hydraulic Institute?

Michael Michaud: When I joined HI eight years ago, HI was in build mode. We built and launched several programs to prepare the market for changes in the regulatory environment. These include the HI Energy Rating Label, for commercial and industrial pumps, and public database so utilities can incentivize the purchase of more efficient equipment; the Pump Test Lab Approval Program to ensure pump testing meets the standard, and Pump System Assessment Professional (PSAP) certification for individuals who want to demonstrate their understanding of systems. HI also expanded the suite of web-based tools, calculators, and resources for pump users. Part of my role is to identify the types of programs that will benefit the industry and line-up the resources to make them happen. HI is very fortunate to have a strong team that includes staff and industry volunteers to do this. The other big responsibility is to advocate for the industry. Everything from regulatory discussions to championing pumps – on Capitol Hill, in the upcoming legislative agenda, with other trade groups and by reaching out to universities and technical schools.

 

Best Practices: Can you expand on the DOE regulations?  

Michael Michaud: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) started moving down the pump efficiency path when it began regulating certain commercial and industrial pumps in 2020. This effectively removed the least-energy-efficient pumps from the market—about 25 percent of the total. It is a good start, but real change will not be achieved unless we start replacing the installed base with more efficient pumps. The state revolving fund (SRF) programs have a green set-aside of 10 percent of their funds that must be spent on carbon-reduction initiatives. Most facilities have already identified the bad actors—equipment that often breaks down or requires maintenance. Starting with these usually provides the biggest payback and is also helpful when rolling out additional improvement programs.

Best Practices: What programs does HI have to support the DOE regulations?  

Michael Michaud: From an assessment standpoint, HI’s Pump System Assessment and Optimization courses teach operators how to look at their systems from an energy efficiency perspective and identify bad actors. HI’s Pump Test Lab Approval Program and the HI Energy Rating Label help users calculate the real savings provided by actual pumps and determine the payback period. This is helpful information when selecting a replacement unit. Two major programs recognizing the HI Energy Rating are the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Extended Product Systems (EPS) Rebate Program and California’s Statewide Water Infrastructure and System Efficiency™ (SW WISE™) Program.

Best Practices: What are the biggest challenges that the North American pump industry is currently dealing with?

Michael Michaud: HI conducts a quarterly CEO poll, and a top concern consistently revolves around workforce issues. Recruiting, training, and retaining top talent is the biggest long-term challenge our industry faces. When it comes to recruiting engineers and technical talent we are up against some strong competitors with dotcoms and start-ups. Increasingly, however, people want to work for companies – and industries –that contribute to society and make a difference. We started the World Without Pumps campaign to shine a spotlight on just how important our industry is today. We wanted to bring pumps out from behind the scenes and get folks thinking about the real role pumps play in modern life. We hope to attract young people who may never have considered it before as a career choice. 

HI is also working closely with schools and universities to encourage more pumping in the curriculum and is expanding our suite of programs through PSM to help those looking to transition into the industry. Specifically, PSM has supported the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) program, is a federal initiative that provides no-cost energy efficiency assessments to small and medium-sized manufacturing facilities in the United States.  PSM has supported students and faculty with training to help them identify pumping system savings opportunities while conducting their audits and developed a checklist to use as a prescreening tool during assessments.

I think the diversity of opportunities in our industry is hard to match in any other. When you think about it, pumps are not only used in virtually every industry, but they are also used in virtually every geography. This means that people seeking a career that is compatible with a particular lifestyle will likely find the perfect opportunity in our industry.

Best Practices: Many industries are grappling with shortages of specialized labor and supply chain issues. Are these also pressing concerns for Hydraulic Institute members?

Michael Michaud: Absolutely. On the labor front, HI is focused on expanding our supply of qualified technical workers. Our industry needs a range spanning from knowledgeable operators to seasoned engineers with everything in between. HI launched a career center this year profiling different job types in the industry with pointers to the different knowledge areas required for that job. On the supply chain side, this will continue to be a focus for a while as industry repositions its supply chains globally. Factors such as tariffs and different international trade policies will play a big part and HI will continue to track these for the industry and try to influence them when possible.

Best Practices: What resources does HI/PSM have to help attract and retain employees with limited resources? 

Michael Michaud: This year we launched the Introduction to Pump Fundamentals Training, and the Pump and Systems Fundamentals Training which are training resources designed to provide convenient methods for learning, which can be easily adopted and integrated into companywide onboarding and training programs.

Free to all the employees of Hydraulic Institute Members, and Standards and Training Partners, the Introduction to Pump Fundamentals Training is delivered on a modern platform and includes videos with 3D images and animations to improve the learning experience. The content is broken out into six easily digestible 10-minute modules that cover pumps, drivers, fluid properties, system and pump curves, basic operating theory, and pump selection and data. Following completion of each module there are integrated quizzes that ensure the attendee knows the common industry language, pump types, components and the basics of operation and selection. These topics were developed at the introductory level so that it is beneficial for everyone entering or who are interested in the fluid handling industry.  

For technical, sales or customer facing employees the Pump and Systems Fundamentals Training is the next step. This includes 13 topics at the fundamental level training, ranging in topics from Pump Power & Efficiency, Pump Selection, and Variable Speed Pumping with each topic lasting about 1 hour. Presented in a convenient on-demand format, each training topic is broken down into short modules with integrated quizzes to ensure understanding. The training topics can be taken individually as needed or as a full bundle. The goal is that upon completion, the attendee will have the core knowledge related to pump and system design so that they can evaluate application considerations and provide solutions.

The final piece of our workforce development initiative will be two levels of fundamental pump and system certification. The program guidelines for both certifications are nearly complete, which outline the body of knowledge and certification requirements. In early 2024 the certification committees will begin the examination development process with a goal of launching the level 1 certification exam in mid-year of 2024, with the level 2 certification exam following later in 2024.  Level 1 certification indicates that an individual understands the purpose, function, and operating characteristics of positive displacement and rotodynamic pumps and systems. Level 2 certification indicates that an individual has applied knowledge of the purpose, function, and operating characteristics of positive displacement and rotodynamic pumps and systems.  These certifications provide a standardized path for employees new to the industry, and individuals can leverage the fundamental training offerings to prepare. The fundamental nature of these certifications compliments the more specialized PSAP certification that is already in place and any other future job specific or specialized certifications that are developed.

Best Practices: How do you see pump technology developing over the next 5–10 years?

Michael Michaud: Pumps have been around since Archimedes, but there is still a lot of room for innovation. Some of the biggest improvements are on the intelligent side of things. Pumps today are much smarter than they used to be. Many have integrated sensors and controls which can adjust the speed of the pump automatically as the system requirements change and enable pumps to operate closer to the best efficiency point (BEP). Data feeds can send information to owners who can monitor their systems and track performance and energy use. For owners of large or complex systems, there is a clear case to hire specialists to monitor and conduct formal assessments of their pumping systems to ensure they are optimized - this is one reason HI developed the PSAP certification.

Best Practices: What is your vision for the future? 

Michael Michaud: HI will continue to develop valuable programs for the industry and to drive more awareness of energy efficient pumps in new markets.  The vision of PSM is getting pumping systems to operate at their best efficiency point (BEP). Perhaps it is more of a journey than an actual destination, as every system will have different needs, and these needs will change over time. If HI and PSM can help raise awareness of the BEP and what it means to a pumping system, its reliability, and its energy efficiency, then we are well on our way.  The good news is that pump systems are everywhere, so the work will never end!

Michael Michaud is the executive director of the Hydraulic Institute. He can be contacted at mmichaud@pumps.org,

 

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February 2024.