Hi Jonathan. Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background before joining Trelleborg?
My name is Jonathan Petit and I’m a Product Manager at Trelleborg. My background is in mechanical engineering – specifically in aerospace, making hydraulic cylinders and electric actuators. This required me to work with tolerances measured in microns, so I gained experience in real precision engineering.
Can you tell us a bit about how your background in mechanical engineering has helped you in your current role as Product Manager?
At Trelleborg, the fluid transfer systems that we create always take into account the wider context in which they function. It’s not enough for us to simply design a hose in isolation; we understand that the way it interacts with other equipment and surroundings can have a profound effect on its behaviour throughout its service life, and, as such, the opex required for it to optimise functionality.
As a product manager for many of Trelleborg’s specialist hose solutions, this is something that I deal with on a regular basis. Many of the products within this segment - including chemical hoses, seawater intake hoses, LPG hoses and customised oil hoses - require significant customisation to fit in with their specific functions, and a detailed understanding of the environment in which a product will function.
This is where my background plays a crucial role. I’m able to use my experience and knowledge to create innovative solutions to deliver the best performance, while simultaneously never taking my eye off the need to minimize capex and opex.
In one sentence, please can you sum up your role as Product Manager at Trelleborg?
I typically divide my time managing and developing products - which involves listening to customers and work with them on projects around the world, with a view to understanding the challenges they face, and creating the products they need to succeed.
Can you give an example of a project you have worked on at Trelleborg that’s required you to innovate in order to meet a new challenge from the market?
A good example of this would be the development of solutions for seawater intake – the SWILINE range of hoses. Seawater intake hoses are used to bring cold water onto floating production platforms, such as FPSO or FLNG. Both platforms require huge quantities of cold water to absorb the heat generated in their operations. This is particularly vital for FLNG platforms, which need as much as a staggering 40,000 cubic meters of water per hour to absorb the calories exhausted when LNG is compressed and liquefied. This requires large hoses with high flow rates, which must then operate for up to 25 years in some cases.
Installing these hoses presents a unique challenge. The standard method is for the hoses to be constructed beside the hull of the vessel, using a temporary clamp. The hoses are then clamped together, and fitted to a spool piece, before being lowered into the water, flooded, and then submerged. Divers then tighten bolts to connect the hose to the platform.
This technique is not untypical and offers simplicity from a capex point of view, however when it comes to maintenance, the need to use divers each time makes this method particularly capex-intense – particularly when maintenance is required and the hose must be detached from the platform.
An alternative method is to create a seawater intake hose that doesn’t require the need for a diver to install. In this instance, the hose is installed via a caisson – a steel pipe – either through the hull or just outside the hull. Each section of the hose is inserted into the caisson, and then clamped together as the hose is lowered by a crane into the water. The first off hose is connected to a riser head meaning that there is no need for any assistance from divers. This configuration is now increasingly popular, and has been put into use by major oil companies such as Statoil.
In this diverless solution requires exact engineering precision. Tight tolerances are needed to maintain a minimal gap between the riser head and the caisson, to minimise the relative movement that causes wear and tear over the years. This kind of highly technical engineering is where me and my team come in ; enabling the product to function optimally for extended periods of time, reducing the need for maintenance and the opex associated with it.
What trends are you currently seeing in your role?
We’re seeing a period of adjustment to the ‘new normal’ within the Oil & Gas industry. Many customers have delayed upgrades in the last three years – and so now we’re seeing lots of hoses in need of replacement next year.
The challenging market conditions of the last few years have had a lasting impact. Now, customers are looking more for tailored and lean solutions that will match their requirements, but not offer much more. We constantly work collaboratively with our customers to make sure that they are getting the best solution, and encourage them to look not only at price but the global lifecycle of the product, including maintenance cost and changeover costs. If you just look at cost you don’t have all the details to make the right decision.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I’ve played guitar for 20 years. Originally I was mainly a metal fan, but my tastes have broadened to include classical music and jazz as well. I’ve been in various bands and also play piano, drums, and trombone. I go rock climbing regularly and my favorite sport is skiing.
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