Several C-level executives offer their perspectives as manufacturers of process heating equipment, components and supplies. In that vein, I offer my own view from the top of our team at Process Heating.

I have attended several trade shows over the past 60 days that represent many processes in the Industrial heating and industrial cooling markets. The common themes we all are facing are supply chain, workforce and going “green.” Industry experts discussed how we can work to address these issues at the events I attended.

Supply chain is a short-term problem. Although this feels like a long-term issue, it will correct itself. Nucor, Intel, Ford and many more are all announcing new manufacturing facilities in the United States. These new facilities will contribute to the reshoring of U.S. manufacturing and help ease the supply-chain issues. However, it does pose another problem: skilled workers.

The great resignation that happened during the pandemic hurt our workforce. This issue may take longer to correct itself, and it will not come from humans. Technology and innovation will be the path to the workforce of the future. There is software out there (artificial intelligence) that can learn from a person who was doing the same technical job for 30 years. Then this software will translate the knowledge it gathers to optimize performance, predict maintenance issues and perform monitoring. The other solution will be robotics. Combining these innovations can address the lack of a skilled workforce. I saw a movie about this once and hope it doesn’t turn out the same…

Many may see going “green” as a challenge, but it could be an opportunity. As the world becomes more aware of its potential impact on our environment, companies will be forced to move in this direction. That means a lot of new opportunities in this “green” space. Did you know there are many different types of hydrogen? Do you know how it is produced for energy use? For example, Black hydrogen is actually produced using coal and has a negative environmental footprint. All of this change will require parts, equipment and alternative fuel sources. This creates new opportunities.

The bottom line is that it has been a bumpy road the past few years, and it probably will continue throughout 2022. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however, and I believe we are in for a boom shortly.

Erik Klingerman