For the first certified PSAP, the test was challenging but the results were worth it.
When something new comes along, someone has to be the first to do it. For the Hydraulic Institute’s Pump System Assessment Professional (PSAP) certification, that person was Keith Schindler, a hydraulic engineer and oil and gas specialist with Flowserve Corp.
A lot has changed since Schindler received PSAP Certification No. 0001 in 2018. Today, candidates can access study guides, textbooks, and live and virtual courses. None of that existed when Schindler first sat for the test. Nor could he turn to other PSAP holders for advice. Unlike today, he could not even bring his programmable calculator to the test.
Yet one thing remains constant, Schindler says: PSAP certification delivers value by reinforcing the knowledge of those who earn it and by helping them build trust with customers who use their services.
We caught up with Schindler recently to ask him about his experience taking the first PSAP test and how it worked out for him. Here is what he had to say:
What made you decide to apply for the certification?
Peter Gaydon, Hydraulic Institute’s director of technology, approached Flowserve and asked if we wanted to get involved in this new program they were developing. Peter used to work in the same group that I was in and he knew our capabilities, so he thought it would be a good fit. He came out and made a presentation. Flowserve was already very involved with the Hydraulic Institute—our people sat on committees and participated in conferences—and we like what we saw. A group of us decided to seek certification.
What was your group doing at the time? What made it a good fit?
At the time, I was managing a Flowserve technical assessment team that served all industries, but mainly the power and wastewater industries. These customers operate big, high-dollar pumping systems and have very strong programs to keep their equipment operating properly. So, we provided annual pumping system assessments, where we monitored performance for potential problems, troubleshooting, and root cause analysis. We also supported our sales team in the field. All of these tasks leveraged the type of methodologies covered by the PSAP knowledge base.
So, if you already were doing PSAP-type assessments, why invest in certification?
There were two reasons. The first is that we wanted to distinguish ourselves from our competitors. We could show our customers that our program was accredited to a specific standard. That way, our customers could evaluate our system assessment capabilities and the body of knowledge and methodologies that backed them up. Pumping assessment and testing is a competitive field and we wanted a way to give our team greater credibility. The PSAP certification provided that for us.
We also wanted to bring more consistency to system assessment. There has always been a lot of variation in how assessments were done. It would vary from company to company and also from individual to individual, depending on their background. The PSAP certification showed that Flowserve was using a consistent set of best practices applied using a core body of knowledge. This would make it easier for our customers to compare assessment results from year to year.
How did you prepare for the certification exam?
When I took the exam, there were no guides, books, or courses. I was pretty much on my own. I did review the Hydraulics Institute’s Pump Life Cycle Costs book. For a person who is senior in his or her career, I figured the test shouldn’t be that difficult if you know your stuff because we deal with system assessments every day.
Still, it was challenging. From a pump hydraulic review, it was easy to be able to come up with a point on the pump’s head-flow curve, but the exam challenged your knowledge base. It asked what else you had to consider and gave you five selections and two were pretty close.
A lot has changed since then. Today, the Hydraulic Institute provides more resources to help people prepare for the exam. There’s a one-day course that reviews all the core knowledge skills the test covers as well as books, study guides, and live and online courses. They’ve made it a lot easier to prepare, but the test is still very challenging.
You mentioned that you held a senior technical position and were doing assessments all the time. Did you learn anything new while preparing for the exam?
I picked up a couple of things, especially with control valves. There was some interesting stuff that I had either forgotten or never really covered it. Reviewing that section opened my eyes and I realized I needed to dig deeper into the technology, which has changed a lot over the years. You have to understand valve positions during normal operation and valve discharge coefficient to come up with a resistance curve to see where the pumps are operating on the system curve.
Several of your colleagues qualified for PSAP certification. Did that change how the market perceived Flowserve?
It helped, for sure. When we started the PSAP certification program, Flowserve was ramping up its systems assessment business. Now, companies getting more interested in decarbonization and carbon capture. The PSAP training gives us a consistent, nationally recognized set of best practices to assess and document what our customers are doing to minimize energy costs and reduce carbon output. We use it to show where their pumps are operating on the curve, the efficiency of their motors, and the energy lost through oversized control valves or the overall operating efficiency of their pumping systems. These are all parts of the PSAP knowledge base. So, if a company has carbon reduction goals, we can help them get there and document their successes.
What about your career? Has PSAP certification changed anything?
I think it did, though remember, I was already participating in system assessments before the training. But when I talk to customers about energy efficiency and carbon credits, I’m using PSAP methodologies to explain how we would assess their systems and, after that, how we could improve them. They know that Flowserve is using nationally accredited best practices.
Will Flowserve encourage more of its technical people to earn a PSAP certification? We started with North America, and we will continue to grow the certification base here as well as getting more people certified in our overseas groups in Europe and Asia. We believe it is a very useful knowledge base to have and gives us credibility in the marketplace.