Dealing with high pressure in the Canadian Oil Sands

An interview with John Owens, Supervisor – Hydraulic Hose Technician at North American Construction Group (NACG)

Hose & Coupling World is pleased to present Part Two of our interview with Hose Failure Subject Matter Expert, John Owens, of North American Construction Group (NACG). Further to our discussion on the value of establishing Preventative Hose Maintenance Programs, Owens addresses the challenge of selling “hose solutions,” the value of establishing a strong OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) partnership, SAE guidelines and the ongoing search for the holy grail—abrasion resistance.

By Jody Hewitt, Editor

Based in Acheson, Alberta, Canada, John Owens supervises the assembly of hydraulic hose for NACG, a leading provider of heavy construction and mining services in Canada. With 38 years of experience to his credit, he is an expert in hydraulic hose and fittings applications, with experience in the manufacturing, distribution and end user aspects of the business.

Selling “hose solutions”

Before joining NACG, Owens spent the majority of his career on the manufacturing and supply end of the business. A self-proclaimed second generation “hoser,” Owens has provided hydraulic repair services, worked in the wholesale business, as well as working with a number of large OEMs. He asserts, “When you’re selling hoses to companies—like mining companies—hoses are not given a lot of respect, to put it that way. I was at a training course a few weeks ago and the Chief Innovation Officer for a large hose company in Europe said ‘it’s always the hose’s fault.’”

He continues, “Basically what he was trying to get at was that hoses fail—in fact, they are often one of the first pieces to break on a piece of equipment—but why they break is often not considered. Usually it’s because of something that’s gone wrong in the system. Hoses are often blamed for all the problems, but they are usually a symptom of the problem.”

In Owens’ opinion, selling “hose solutions” often does not resonate with end users. He explains, “I used to ask ‘Do you have a hose problem that I can solve for you?’ Clients would always say, we don’t have any hose problems. What they meant by that was that hoses break all the time, it’s just normal for hoses to break. They didn’t view that as being a problem.”

The value: OEM Partnership Agreements

Now on the end user side of the business, Owens appreciates the value of developing strong relationships with OEMs and suppliers. NACG participates in an OEM Partnership Agreement with their hose supplier, whereby they have access to the OEMs engineers and in return, the OEM has access to the valuable data tracking and in-situ data management information being gathered by Owens and his team.

He explains, “So we collaborate on problems as they come up. In turn, they have been very responsive to our needs… building special fittings and designing new hoses, to name a couple of examples.”

This kind of partnership is unlike any that Owens has experienced in his career. He asserts, “I’ve never seen that anywhere before. A lot of companies will make the promise of a lot of engineering support, but don’t necessarily have the manpower to provide it.”

To read the full interview with John Owens, please contact the Editor.

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