FMC Technologies Producing Big Business with Meters
Located off in the shadows, back behind the train tracks of GE is the old Smith Meter company. It's now the measurement solutions division of FMC Technologies.
"If you ask any of the locals about FMC they really don't know what you're talking about. But if you mention the A.O. Smith Meter name, they recognize that and they understand that. And if you look at some of our meters the Smith name is still on that product and it's known worldwide," said plant manager Ed Saffron.
Their big business comes from big business. They make the meters, big and small, you'd find in oil and gas operations around the world. Their products, simply put, transfer and calculate, the amount of fluid passing through. And we all know how expensive those fluids are. So their main goal is accuracy.
"A typical super tanker could have two million barrels on it which is about 84 million gallons. If our measurement is off by even half a percent it presents a million dollar loss to our customer. So it's critical we make an accurate, reliable, repeatable product for our customers," said Saffron.
Some of their biggest meters, called M16's, can be found all the way in the Alaskan pipeline or Russia. They're able to pump 525,000 gallons of oil every hour.
As you can imagine, not every oil and gas rig is the same. So it's rare for two of their products to be exactly alike. But that's what keeps mechanical engineer Nicole Gailey on her toes.
"Not everyone's situation is the same. So it's all about taking their situation and making it a standard as much as you can," she said.
And as you can also imagine, the industry is changing. So are the products Gailey helps develop. Like the ultrasonic meter that measures fluid without any moving parts inside.
And it's all tested inside their state of the art building. One of the few of its kind in the world.
"We have this multi-million dollar test facility which is the only one like it on the planet so it gives us flexibility to test other people's products and bring customers in Erie to see our products," said Saffron.
And it's all happening right in your back yard in Erie, Pennsylvania.