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Energy Industry’s Up-and-Down Cycle Continues

Thomas Kurfess
By Thomas Kurfess 2018 SME President

The energy industry is often at the forefront of our minds as we watch fuel prices climb and then celebrate when they come down. We continually find ways to be as energy efficient as possible in our homes and workplaces. Media outlets keep us constantly informed of this often-volatile industry’s ups and downs by offering headlines like “Oil Falls More than 2 Percent as Cushing Build Adds to Demand Fears” (Reuters, Aug. 2018), “Rising Costs Are Cutting Into Shale Company Profits—Energy Journal” (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 2018) and “Tariffs Not Hitting Solar Industry Jobs Yet” (Yahoo Finances, July 2018).

Even as the industry continues its up-and-down cycle, SME reviews advanced technologies and their impact on manufacturing processes, techniques and efficiencies so we can share that knowledge. Through this year’s Energy Manufacturing Yearbook, we’re proud to offer you in-depth articles on:

  • Tool Life and Scalability Driving New Thinking—With larger turbine components, new machining technologies are gaining popularity. More precision is needed for the stack-up process, so companies are turning to EMAG LLC’s new electromechanical machining (ECM) technique as a scalable method for single disc-to-blade and rotor production.
  • Fuel Cells, Lithium-Ion Batteries are Stand-Out Candidates for Energy Storage—As the world moves toward reducing its dependency on fossil fuels, renewable energy generation sources such as wind and solar will be expected to fill the gap. Due to their cyclical nature, grid-scale energy storage is essential for maximizing the utilization of renewable generation assets, which is where 3M Technologies comes into the picture.
  • Rethinking Control Systems for Multi-Well Pads—Today, many producers are using fracking and lateral drilling techniques to place 10 or more wells on one pad. Read how Rockwell Automation’s advancements in complex multi-well pads have not only increased production recovery from wells, but also created entirely new production opportunities in unconventional areas.
  • Contaminated Water Source at a Nuclear Power Plant Facility is “Problem-Solved” Using 3D-Laser Scanning—As power plants age, concerns grow regarding reliability and potential radiation and contamination coming from the vast network of pipes. Exact Metrology shares how it utilized 3D scanning technology to measure several pipe-runs and gage any potential corrosion for one Kansas power plant.
  • 10 Safety Tips for Oil and Gas Industry Workers—Workers in the oil and gas industry operate under one of the highest rates of risk of injury and fatality on the job compared to all other industries in the U.S. To ensure a safe work environment on your next energy project, Graphic Products outlines how to best apply these safety best practices.
  • Wisconsin to Capitalize on Sensor Controls—To drive economic growth and support more than 44,000 jobs annually in the advanced energy industry, Wisconsin could soon capitalize on its strengths in sensors and controls. This industry is projected to grow almost 7 percent annually through 2022.

As you read and reference the information in this year’s Energy Manufacturing Yearbook, I also encourage you to join us in Houston, Feb. 26-28, at the George R. Brown Convention Center for our upcoming HOUSTEX 2019 event. SME members walk the exhibit floor for free. Register at

If you’d rather delve further into the research side of the energy industry, I encourage you to check out SME’s three peer-reviewed journals, Manufacturing Letters, Journal of Manufacturing Systems and Journal of Manufacturing Processes ( SME members can download the articles at no additional cost through ScienceDirect.

As a manufacturing industry resource and advocacy organization, SME looks forward to seeing what’s next for the energy industry and continuing our support for all of you and for of your efforts. Thank you for being part of SME.

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