A new document makes it much easier to create training programs and assess what pump professionals really know.
How do you know what someone knows?
This is a question that comes up all the time in training, hiring, and promoting. Yet, in the pump industry, it is not so easy to answer.
Engineers, field technicians, service reps, and other pump professionals all have a set of core competencies related to their positions. Yet this body of knowledge may vary—often significantly—from one organization to another and even within a single operation. So, how do we know if someone has mastered the competencies needed to properly assess a pump system, maintain a pump, qualify for a utility energy efficiency rebate, or any of a hundred other tasks?
To answer that type of question, the Hydraulic Institute has developed a new document, HI 40.9-2022 Pump Industry Fundamentals Body of Knowledge. It defines the skills and knowledge needed to work in the pump industry. It is broken down by both job function and market segment. The document is designed to make it easier for pump system organizations to develop training, certification, and promotion programs for their employees and to assess the aptitude of potential employees.
“This all started with an insightful question posed by Jack Claxton, HI’s vice president of technical affairs,” said Greg Case, chief product officer of Taco Comfort Solutions, who helped lead the development of HI’s body of knowledge (BoK). Prior to joining Taco, Case was a consultant and trainer for 15 years.
“Claxton, who is vice president of engineering at Patterson Pump, said, ‘I just hired three new engineers. HI has all these training materials, from webinars and videos to papers, classes, and standards. How do I get them into this in the right order so they come out trained on the other side with the knowledge they should have for their new positions,’” said Case.
That question sparked Case, three other HI volunteers, and HI staff to put together a document that describes what engineers hired by a pump manufacturer should know about pumps and pump systems. When they finished, they turned it over to HI’s educational arm, Pump Systems Matter (PSM). That led to a change in direction.
“The folks at PSM liked what they saw but thought the document should go beyond engineers working for pump manufacturers,” Case said. “They urged us to talk to all of HI’s constituents—from end-users and operators to engineering consultants and distributors.
“That’s when we started to build this out. We talked to people throughout the industry about what their people needed to know for different jobs and turned it into an industrywide document,” Case said.
Eventually, 25 volunteers–with a lot of help from Peter Gaydon, William Swetye, and HI staff members–were involved in researching, writing, and reviewing Pump Industry Fundamentals Body of Knowledge. The document they created covers 16 different pump industry-specific competencies, called “learning outcomes” in the document.
Pump Industry Body of Knowledge Learning Outcomes
Introduction to Pumps
Pump Performance Curves Power Consumption
Rotodynamic Pump Designs and Types
Positive Displacement Pump Designs and Types
Pump Components and Accessories
Drivers and Drives
System Design Considerations
Varying the Pump Operating Point
Pump Selection, Specification, and Application Engineering
Pump Installation, Commissioning, and Startup
Pump System Optimization and Analysis
Markets and Applications
Together, these 16 outcomes include more than 300 primary topics that pump professionals must understand. Someone who wants to master variations in pump operating points, for example, needs to show 13 types of capabilities. These range from explaining the design point on a pump curve, and why a system might require alternatives to applying affinity rules to impeller diameters and comparing speed and efficiency-based staging for parallel pumps with variable speed controls.
Of course, not every job in the industry requires the same depth of knowledge. An appendix at the back of the BoK breaks down the skills needed for 18 specific jobs falling within 8 different market segments (with 39 additional positions that fall within specific job descriptions), ranging from plant operators and maintenance technicians to pump engineers and sales managers.
Pump Industry Body of Knowledge Job TitlesPump OEM – Manufacturing
Field service technician
Sales manager (outside sales)
Application engineer (inside sales)
Specifying/system design engineer
Energy efficiency engineer
Pump Industry Body of Knowledge Market SegmentsAgricultural
ANSI/ASME B73Commercial buildings
Pulp and paper
Food and beverage
The document comes at a time when organizations are working hard to get ahead of workforce issues. On one hand, Baby Boomers with decades of knowledge are retiring. On the other, recruiting well-qualified new employees has grown increasingly more difficult. That means employers must put greater emphasis on training new recruits.
Also, the world is moving faster, Case said. When he joined the industry, he could go to HI meetings, come back with notes, and research what he had learned. Today, organizations have leaner staff, and they want their hires leveled up quickly.
“Training has been a problem for a long time, but now we finally have to address it,” Case said. “But we’re trying to hit the easy button here. The new body of knowledge will help people create a roadmap for their training plan. At least, that’s the path we will follow at Taco.”
The BoK document also points readers toward HI resources—such as webinars, courses, or standards—that they can use to provide the training necessary to master these topics.
This is especially valuable for smaller- and medium-size organizations that may not have a formal training program, as well as larger companies, Case continued. “For training, you need your more senior personnel and they usually have other things to do,” he said.
Meanwhile, HI is revamping its educational resources to make them easier to use and provide more depth. In addition, HI is revising and creating some introductory classes for people who are entirely new to the industry and may not have an engineering background. They teach basic concepts, such as head and flow, at a slower pace so students who graduate will be ready to dive into the BoK.
HI has also started to work on tests and certifications for people who are working their way through the BoK. “We may one day want to expand the job-specific functions or create certification levels to the body of knowledge,” said Case.
Still, Case is happy with what the committee created. “If we got everybody to the level of competency outlined in this new document, the industry will be far better off,” he said.
For Case, the new BoK promises to simplify the people side of the business. “I have a large organization,” he said. “By training to the body of knowledge, I will be able to know exactly what competency level each one of my employees is at. We can lay out a path and the training necessary for getting raises and promotions. And when we recruit people, if they have a certificate of completion or certified to a certain level, I will know exactly what they know. It’s going to be a game changer for me.”
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