by Jeff Coale
– Vice President – Business Development, Victory Energy
Steam has been an integral part of our world for centuries. The impact of steam in everyday life situations is felt and experienced in many different ways – both seen and unseen. Just imagine where we’d be without the benefits of steam in virtually every industry that spans a myriad of applications.
This overarching premise of the importance of steam is why the boiler industry is so valuable to those who have chosen it as a career. You go to work knowing that the boilers you build, sell, manage, operate, and maintain are making a difference. To me, this is a gratifying feeling. It also comes with a tremendous responsibility.
The boiler industry is undergoing a significant transformation. Many boiler pros are retiring while some companies are downsizing or totally phasing out their boiler room staff. At the same time, boilers are increasingly becoming more technically complex with the digital transformation that is borne out of the IoT – Internet of Things. Performance metrics on boilers that are available instantaneously have the potential to become the new norm.
There’s never been a better time to be in the boiler industry; however, it requires significant recruitment and grooming of the next generation of boiler professionals. These professionals must be far more technically savvy, while at the same time mastering many different roles and responsibilities as they relate to all things boilers. It affords the opportunity to make a far bigger impact that expands far beyond the current perception of what constitutes a “boiler room” professional. Boilers are increasingly becoming a more integral priority in many operations. Bringing in the talent to support this role is paramount, while at the same time, keeping costs in check while delivering tangible value.
As a manufacturer, Victory Energy is stepping up to fulfill the boiler room requirements of our customers. We’re deeper involved in the commissioning of boilers as our concept-to-completion promise pays off. Where we once stepped away after start-up, customers are looking to us to be their de facto boiler room operator. This is especially true with ongoing service and maintenance needs. It is a paradigm shift in how boilers are being managed and maintained today. There is a greater bonus on the manufacturer and we’re answering the call.
The Victory Energy steam test facility is an example of our continual investment in helping customers to realize greater operational efficiencies. This fully operable steam plant allows for the validation of all operations performance metrics of a boiler prior to shipment and installation. It is also being leveraged by customers as a learning tool for their boiler room operators and managers.
Education is a critically important component of this new world. With fewer boiler room professionals to hand down tribal knowledge, outside suppliers need to step in and fill this void. Our valued industrial representative partner in the Southeast, WARE Inc., is at the forefront of leading the education of people in the boiler industry. Their innovative Boiler University focuses on providing in-depth, hands-on, expert training on all things boiler related.
WARE’s Boiler University represents a significant investment – a 12,000 sq. ft., state-of-the-art training facility located in Louisville, KY. It includes a 60-seat lecture hall, 32-seat classroom, a cafeteria, and a lab that includes four fully-operational boilers. This allows for hands-on training that supplements lectures, where students experience seeing, touching and troubleshooting nearly every component of applicable boiler equipment, from 50 horsepower to 75,000 pounds per hour, under the careful supervision of boiler industry veterans.
It is up to us to make sure that the next generation of boiler professionals are in place and working relentlessly to advance this great boiler industry at a time when enormous change is happening. Victory Energy and WARE, Inc., with Boiler University, are at the forefront of meeting this challenge head-on.