Issue Fall 14
Founded in 1986, Flow-Tech Industries has since grown into a leading provider of fluid-handling equipment and control solutions. The company serves a wide array of industries, including the chemical, paper, refinery, marine, and oil and gas industries. Its ability to succeed at serving a diverse client base is due to its ability come up with solutions that meet customer needs.
“Today, we are focused on special applications and projects, such as seawater and large-volume movers,” founder and General Manager Bobby Johnston says. “Customers are our strength and future. We serve customers who need solutions.”
“We are doing a lot of work in the offshore oil and gas industry, dealing with pumping and water treatment solutions for the offshore market,” Project and Systems Manager Kaymichael Johnston adds.
As an industrial supplier of fluid-handling equipment, Flow-Tech’s comprehensive product lines include fire pumps, pumps, valves, meters and control products.
Feel the Heat
Since 2001, Flow-Tech has applied its resources and energy to focus on listed NFPA 20 packaged fire pump systems. The company has relationships of 25 years and more with top brand manufacturers, primarily concentrating on UL listed and FM approved. Flow-Tech’s fire pump products include horizontal split case, vertical split case, vertical inline, vertical turbine and packaged systems.
One thing that helps set the company apart in the fire pump niche is the fact that Flow-Tech focuses solely on industrial fire pumps. Most of the fire pump market is focused on the commercial market and building protection, which is customarily handled through a sprinkler contractor. Bobby Johnston notes that the company deals directly with project engineers, rig builders and end users.
That industrial specialization is important to the kinds of customers Flow-Tech serves. Offshore fire pump systems must deal with issues such as the use of seawater, involvement of special metals, Coast Guard standards and the approvals of listing bodies.
“Most of the companies in the general fire pump market don’t understand everything that is involved with the offshore fire pump sector,” Kaymichael Johnston says. “We have that experience and understanding, and our customers know that.”
For customers in the offshore oil and gas industry in need of fire pump solutions, Flow-Tech is committed to finding the right solutions for their needs. The company understands issues involved with listing codes and regulatory standards, as well as metallurgy required for longevity.
“Once a system is listed, that listing stays up,” Bobby Johnston says. “It takes time, but we are willing to work with customers that need long-lived systems for harsh conditions to help them get it done.”
Willing to Work
Flow Tech has come to be known as the company for challenging projects in the industrial fire pump world. That is illustrated by a recent project the company took on to develop two vertical turbine pumps made of super duplex stainless steel. The pumps are to be used in a terminal facility in Freeport, Texas, that is investing in expansion.
The facility has similar pumps that date from the late 1980s when regulations were different and more lax. Due to the metallurgy required, these pumps are not currently listed. It took a company such as Flow Tech to step in and make it possible for vertical turbine pumps made of super duplex stainless steel to become an option as part of the expansion.
“We were called by a local engineering firm that had been turned down by everyone and told it can’t be done,” Kaymichael Johnston says. “They had received no quotes from all area suppliers. We were able to find a manufacturing partner willing to work directly with UL to develop a plan to gain listings as the pumps are being built and meet the standards of the governing body, NFPA 20.”
One of the things that make Flow Tech unique is the fact that it is one of only a few companies in the pump sector that covers only the industrial offshore and onshore markets. It doesn’t do commercial or municipal projects, so it is fully adept at working in environments where seawater and hazardous codes are the norm. The company understands the NFPA 20 regulations and how they correlate to specific customer needs.
“If a customer wants a super duplex stainless steel vertical turbine, we can work with the factory and UL,” Kaymichael Johnston says. “The pumps themselves were already listed, so we could take on a long lead-time project like this to get the pumps built with these specific materials and get all of the details together in terms that suited everyone.”
The first milestone in a project like this is getting the contract put together. It includes the initial submittal process, pump drawings, material listings, performance calculations, and engineering data. Once that documentation is together and has been reviewed by the customer, it heads to the manufacturer so materials can be ordered. “The pumps will be put together in the Americas, and UL can inspect the foundry and process as it goes,” Kaymichael Johnston says.
Throughout the project, Flow Tech will provide regular updates to all involved on scheduling. The company prides itself on customer service. “As a small business, we closely monitor every step,” Kaymichael Johnston says. “We’re not just an order taker. We make sure everything is facilitated from cradle to grave on each project.”
Flow Tech expects delivery of the units toward the end of July 2015, but it is hopeful that can be pushed up. At this stage, testing hasn’t been scheduled. UL will send in a listing agent several times throughout the build process, and UL representatives will inspect the project throughout the build and once the pumps are complete.
“Everything has to be inspected along the way to get the UL listing, as they make sure it is built to the design,” Kaymichael Johnston says. “The pumps have a capacity of 3,500 gallons per minute, and UL will verify that it is built in accordance with the design and that it does what it is designed to do.”
Confident that the project will ultimately succeed, Flow Tech is working to spread the word about its ability to tackle projects that others cannot. It has a strong relationship with companies such as Aurora Fire Pumps, which works closely with Flow Tech on complicated projects.
“Over the last decade, we’ve made waves in the industrial fire pump market,” Kaymichael Johnston says. “Our customer service and willingness to devise solutions for complex projects will continue to drive us forward.”