Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is an increasingly important source of energy exploration within the United States. Its economic influence is substantial, and its political significance is beyond dispute.
Concerning the latter, I understand and respect that there are differences of opinion about fracking in general. But the best way to avoid any problems, to the safety of individual workers, neighboring communities and the environment as a whole, is to ensure that the right equipment – complemented by the expert help of industry professionals – keeps this machinery running.
That mission is not mere marketing boilerplate: It is an oath I honor, which is a slight variation of the motto for FD Johnson, a leading supplier of high-quality, lubrication pumps and systems, where I serve as Operations Manager.
Our slogan, that “We keep your machinery running,” is the result of more than 80-years of wisdom and innovation.
And, in a field dependent on the purchase, use and maintenance of the exact parts for such a complex project like fracking, there can be no sacrifice regarding the valves, pumps and monitors a company buys. Nor is there room for inexperienced staff to recommend the purchase of items that are not, in fact, suitable for assignments of this size and scope.
For, any such disruption involving fracking threatens to be a financial disaster, a huge mechanical failure and a literal mess for workers, managers and citizens.
These challenges are not exclusive to fracking – their frequency and severity pale beside more conventional means of energy extraction – but there is a sense of sensationalism more common to fracking.
The best way to improve this situation starts with seeking the guidance of credible vendors and wise instructors. That is, companies must partner with individuals who know why – and can explain how – a particular pump or lubrication system is ideal for a certain project.
That task is far more sophisticated than it seems because selecting these parts is not like walking into a hardware store, grabbing a shopping basket and filling it with off-the-rack items, or clicking on some random product, followed by a quick checkout on some anonymous, pay-less website.
In so many words: Fracking requires the counsel of someone with a vested interest in being right, as opposed to just being successful.
That distinction is critical because, if a vendor wants to sell more expensive valves and pumps (rather than the correct products and services), the only safeguard in this process – the sole source of protection for the people who will use this machinery, and the community that will reap its rewards or suffer its consequences – belongs to the merchant directing a client in this or that direction.
Proven Experience and Essential Schooling: The Other Fracking Revolution
The theme to this discussion, which applies to any industry, is simple: Offer companies the schooling necessary to manage, troubleshoot, repair and maintain the equipment a client buys.
Recognize, too, that the stories critical of fracking are often the consequence of avoidable mistakes; they are the outcome of workers not properly trained to keep their machinery running.
My suggestion to energy companies, both large and small, from regional excavators to global corporations with iconic logos and tens of thousands of engineers, geologists, foremen, contractors and safety inspectors – my advice to these officers and specialists is to invest in excellence, by demanding quality, and receiving unrivaled instruction in the maintenance of the valves, pumps and systems these businesses agree to purchase.
Wisdom and personalized service define this philosophy; intelligence and integrity make this approach effective.
We have a duty to further America's plans for energy independence.
Fracking plays a vital and urgent role in those plans.
Let us, therefore, prepare ourselves to accomplish this mission.
Let us keep your machinery running.
Brian Robson is Operations Manager for the FD Johnson Company, which has an 80-year commitment to excellence, ensuring the proper installation, maintenance and performance of lubrication pumps and systems.