Published on January 23, 2015 @ 10:00am EST

Energy Rubber Group eyes expansion in Asia-Pacific region

By Mike Scott
RPN correspondent
Members of the Energy Rubber Group gather recently at an association meeting held in Texas. The group is looking to increase its presence worldwide.

HOUSTON—After more than 30 years of successfully sharing knowledge and building strong professional networks in the U.S., the Energy Rubber Group is looking at ways to expand the organization into other parts of the world.

ERG offers educational and networking seminars in the U.S. three times a year. But after its April 2015 technical meeting, it will work to formally create a new ERG chapter in the Asia-Pacific region as a way to further the advancement of the rubber industry within the energy sector.

Founded in 1980 in Houston, the Energy Rubber Group has grown over the years from a handful of dedicated individuals to a highly-recognized international association of about 500 members.

It brings together all stakeholders in the rubber industry—from original equipment manufacturers, suppliers and other supply chain parties—for ongoing training opportunities and discussions. The ERG is a topical group of the ACS Rubber Division, focused on the advancement of rubber technology and education in the energy sector.

Its meetings normally are held in the Texas cities of Houston, Arlington, Galveston or San Antonio, with attendance of up to 300 common. The group's membership has been increasing consistently since it was first established, according to Charlie Pitts, a past chair of the ERG and an active member.

The ERG provides scientific, engineering and business knowledge to members and has worked to become a recognized technical body on the subject of engineered elastomers.

“We're looking for educational trends and opportunities to network and share ideas and best practices,” Pitts said. “It's a great opportunity to connect with people in the industry and share a wealth of knowledge.”

Traditionally as many as 20-25 of the members of the Energy Rubber Group have traveled from the Asia-Pacific region, leading the group to consider developing the new chapter.

The addition of an ERG chapter in the Asia-Pacific region seems like a good idea to organizers for two reasons. First, there is a strong level of interest from supply chain contacts and professionals in that area of the world. Second, professionals in that region need the education, experience and resources to thrive in a growing global environment, Pitts said.

“We are very fortunate in the U.S. to have the experience that we do,” he said. “But in other parts of the world, you have brilliant engineers who just don't have the level of knowledge or resources that we do. This (chapter) will give them additional exposure.”

It also will give professionals in the Asia-Pacific region, many of whom work for multinational companies, network contacts needed to use as resources.

However Pitts stressed that the association will be looking for engineers and professionals from smaller companies, as well as engineering and manufacturing students.

OEMs in other parts of the world need to understand strategies better such as the application of parts. Companies such as FMC Technologies Inc., Halliburton Co., Cameron International Corp., General Electric and others have facilities both in the U.S. and globally.

“Making connections with suppliers and other contacts can help these new members with certain projects,” Pitts said. “Now they can leverage these levels of expertise with new business opportunities and meeting project demands. There is a level of improved efficiencies when these communications are going on.”

Recent topics that have been covered at the Fall Technical Meeting or Educational Symposium included designing seals for large extrusion gaps, understanding and engineering high-performance thermoplastics, the effect of high-temperature steam on various mechanical properties, and a review of reliable polymers for harsh environments.

“We are well represented right now in the U.S. and with Asia-Pacific people who want to learn new things,” Pitts said. “This is all about expansion and talking over the good, bad and the ugly.”


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