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November 07 Businessexcellence 39 us; we can then look at how we can avoid that from an engineering point of view.” Continuous improvement depends on metrics, though, and I wonder how this works in an industry that can’t count widgets per hour. “We have in-house metrics to compare our projects,” says Snijder. “It’s diffi cult to compare it industry-wide because we’re focused on our own technologies, but we have developed in-house metrics to see whether we’re meeting them on a particular project or not.” Costs have been a problem recently, he admits, because the price of materials has gone up signifi cantly and the escalation has thrown the metrics out of kilter, but man-hours and schedule and quality can still be compared. With world demand for oil continually increasing, and the Canadian oil industry booming, it must be a great time for engineering companies in this industry. So what are the major challenges it faces? “The biggest challenge is staffi ng,” says Snijder, without hesitation. The industry is just too busy. “The last two years have been incredibly busy and globally we are short of engineers with experience.” The problem stems from the last oil crisis in the 1980s, after which the industry went into decline, and very few graduates were attracted into it. That has created a black hole in the fi ve to fi fteen year experience range, which is hard to fi ll. “We’re now faced with a lot of people going into retirement and the next generation is not fully developed,” he says, “so we’re short of staff worldwide, especially experienced staff.” To address this problem, Technip has brought in some experienced engineers from overseas, but also started a major recruitment thrust eight years ago to bring in new graduates from the US. “It means you need to train them yourself so you can start growing them,” he says, but it is working and graduates are now fi nding the industry more attractive. But alternative energy is all the rage at the moment, so how is this likely to affect the traditional petrochemical industry? “People are excited about sustainable energy,” says Snijder, “but our demand is still very high because there’s a push for different types of oils. Canadian crude is now coming to the US, which requires more hydroprocessing and therefore more hydrogen plants. There’s also still a growth in the US for more refi ning capacity, so we fi nd demand is very high at the moment.” That does not rule out Technip Claremont from taking advantage of opportunities in sustainable energy, however. “I am moving at the moment with one confi dential client into the new fuels arena,” says Snijder, “where we’re pyrolyzing a type of grass to make fuel. That’s an interesting development. We’ve also been looking at biodiesel. We have a partnership with a technology company called Axens to build biodiesel plants, but I’m not certain what the future of the bio sector is. It’s very much driven by tax credits.” Despite the hype, so-called clean fuel remains a minor part of the current energy market. TechnipClaremont “We have in-house metrics to compare our projects. It’s diffi cult to compare it industry-wide because we’re focused on our own technologies”

This family-owned and managed dairy processor has set its sights on attaining top three national brand status in the United States, president Mike Wells explains to Gary Toushek Topthreetarget 40 Businessexcellence November 07