People share their stories and experience of working within the Sealing Industry and the ESA.
Ralf Vogel – ESA Technical Director
Involvement with the sealing industry and ESA
After my graduation as a mechanical engineer, I started working as a R&D engineer in the steel industry. My involvement with the sealing industry started 27 years ago when I accepted an R&D position with Merkel (Later to become Burgmann Packing). I received good training by learning from experienced colleagues. My early involvement with the ESA helped me to get a better insight into issues such as legislation and standards. Also working together with other sealing experts helped me to gain a wider knowledge about different aspects of the industry.
After my training I moved the R&D facilities for packings to our manufacturing plant in Ireland. Despite being one of the oldest types of sealing devices, packings are a complex product. As a mechanical engineer I had to learn about different types of yarn materials, chemicals for the impregnations and the different complex steps of manufacturing the product.
In addition to the development side, I got involved with application engineering by supporting technical sales engineers worldwide when encountering difficulties or failures with end users. This provided knowledgeable input for new product development. The spectrum of applications is very wide. Dealing with rotary pumps with low pressures but higher shaft speeds to industrial plunger pumps with more than 3000 bar discharge pressures. Temperatures for sealing liquid nitrogen at -196 °C up to more than 1000 °C for static sealing of steel furnaces. In addition, there is a vast range of media from harmless fluids such as water to concentrated acids or alkaline solutions.
Besides the wide application range, other aspects such as environmental laws and standards, health & safety aspects and industry specific requirements made the development work interesting and challenging. Over the years in the industry the work with competitors and other experts in the ESA help me to gain a better understanding of all these subjects. With the ESA we were able to do work which individual companies on their own cannot do, such as the development of EN standard 16752 for pump packing testing or joint research projects like the friction study for pump packing applications.
This experience enabled me to take on the role of Technical Director for the ESA last year when the position came up. Again, it is challenging to evolve the organisation and support all the sealing Divisions in their work. The virus situation and the associated restrictions have also made it very difficult but we were able to set-up regular online meetings and continue with the project work. The development of training material, handbooks in different languages and information about standards and legislation issues has continued. Setting-up the Knowledge Base as an information database for anyone interested to learn about sealing devices is another step forward for the ESA. The Knowledge Base enables us to share the vast knowledge of all ESA members to help the sealing industry and their customers to develop in the future
Ralf Vogel, ESA
David is the Technical Director of the Elastomeric & Polymeric Seals Division and the Packings Division within the ESA. His history of working with Sealing Devices is covered by an article written by himself for our news letter entitled the Accidental Sealing Engineer. His knowledge and experience is incredible yet he started off not knowing what to expect. Having travelled the world and enjoyed so many life changing experiences within this industry perhaps you might also want to follow in his footsteps…
The Accidental Sealing Engineer, David Edwin Scott
When I graduated from university in 1974 the last business I expected to spend over 40 years enjoying was that of sealing technology. With a degree in Chemical Engineering I was all set for a glittering career designing chemical plants with one of those big prestigious petrochemical companies. But in those days engineering graduates were plentiful and competition for places was extremely fierce.
So I took a ‘temporary’ role in production development with a sealing device manufacturer and I am so glad that I did. First of all the production techniques are so numerous and varied that I was quickly exposed to plant and procedures that were completely new to me. Elastomer compounding and moulding, calendaring of fibre jointing, plaiting and braiding of yarns for compression packings, water jet and laser cutting and many others present their own fascination for the engineer.
But it was when I moved on to the sharp end of application engineering that I was truly hooked. The point is that every industry relies on seals and so the depth and variety of challenges the seal designer faces are extensive. And because the customer base is so wide, when one industry is going through a quiet phase, others will be booming so there is always work to be had.
My first specialisation was in the Oil & Gas Exploration & Production industry during the rapid expansion in the North Sea, working closely with major equipment manufacturers to develop well-head sealing solutions to deal with the demanding operating conditions. Later on I began to get involved with renewable energy applications in both wind-power and hydro-electric turbine sealing. And towards the end of my full time career I worked with marine equipment manufacturers on propulsion sealing systems; it is quite difficult to keep the sea-water out while preventing bearing oil from polluting the ocean at the same time.
There is real satisfaction to be gained from devising sealing solutions, whether it is in modest applications in the water industry to high tech duties in power generation or oil and gas production.
Involvement in sealing technology has given me the opportunity to travel the world, interact with a huge range of industries and contribute to protecting the environment. I have never regretted accidentally joining this fascinating industry.
David Edwin-Scott, ESA
Available positions and current candidates
Here are the currently available positions available within the ESA members together with a link to the company concerned, and current candidates who posted their CVs.