Commemorating Commitment

By MTI Admin posted 12-15-2021 12:54 PM

One of the best measures of MTI’s value as a technical community is the ongoing commitment of its members. Not only do company representatives take on leadership roles in short- and long-term projects, but they bring new ideas to its Project Development Committees (PDCs) with the power to impact materials engineering issues in the Process Industries.
Download the article in PDF format from MTI CONNECT 2021, Issue 3.

As time management guru and author Steven Covey once put it, “The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” In 2021, eleven companies are celebrating their long-term investments in MTI membership. That impressive list includes one 40-year, five 20-year, two 10-year, and three 5-year anniversaries. All were honored during a recent ceremony held at AmeriTAC 136 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Times Passes Quickly
Some members were caught by surprise when notified that their company had reached a major milestone so quickly. “Is it really 20 years already?” asks Maria Jose Landeira Oestergaard, who has led a number of projects and MTI’s Board of Directors while acting as Haldor Topsoe’s Designated Representative. “Time passes quickly in good company— as we say in Danish.”

“For Topsoe, MTI means, first of all, a strong resource of reliable know-how not available elsewhere, simply because member companies are represented by specialists who have been in the field and have both theoretical and practical experience,” explains Oestergaard, Haldor Topsoe’s Senior Manager, Mechanical Department, Global Supply Unit. “This is only possible because of the culture of MTI and because of the extraordinary individuals willing to share this knowledge and experience.”

MTI has also provided both Oestergaard and her colleague Anette Nørgaard Hansson with opportunities to use and improve their leadership skills. “Both Anette and I have gotten the opportunity to serve in leadership positions at EuroTAC and on the Board, which has contributed not only to technical but also to personal development.”

In fact, Oestergaard was MTI’s first non-American and female Chair. “That was a great challenge and a very rewarding experience,” she adds. “We have also benefited from many projects, but also from networking with other materials specialists, sharing ideas, and listening to others.” Oestergaard provides an example of how being part of a network of industry experts paid off in recent years. When Haldor Topsoe’s stainless steel nitric acid reactors corroded much faster than expected due to presence of specific corrosion-accelerating components in the liquid, they turned to a fellow MTI member for help. “NobelClad provided webinars to convey the necessary knowledge for Haldor Topsoe to make an appropriate material selection and tank design,” she reports. This collaboration earned both companies an MTI Value Award.

NobelClad, a member of MTI since 2001, has realized at least as much value as it has delivered over the last 20 years. Edgar Vidal, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, acknowledges that the international clad and composite metals company values being part of a worldwide materials engineering community. “Being a corporate member of a professional society is not only an opportunity to expand business contacts that can ultimately lead to increased revenue, but also learn from global industry leaders,” he points out. “The social responsibility to expand the industrial know-how of different regions of the world is a staple for MTI members. Understanding what critical issues and concerns the industrial stakeholders are navigating is important for the proper allocation of time and resources.”

Twenty years has provided NobelClad with plenty of chances to participate, and its representatives have made the most of those opportunities. “NobelClad has been actively monitoring the forum to assist member companies when they have questions that have or may have a clad solution,” mentions Vidal. “We have also participated in the education of members with webinars like ‘Introduction to Explosion Cladding for Chemical Processing & Refining Applications.’ With other industry leaders, we have participated in the writing of chapters for books like ‘Best Practices for Reactive and Refractory Metals’ and ‘Guidance for Failure Mechanisms,’ to name a couple.”

Project participation isn’t the only thing that keeps NobelClad coming back. “MTI has been an influential channel for NobelClad in not only presenting our thought leadership
and innovation, but also providing a venue to develop strategic partners around the world,” observes Vidal. “Collective intelligence is imperative to NobelClad’s success, and MTI is a key component to driving positive change in the industry.”

Jacob Rodriguez, Technical Sales Engineer and Metallurgist at Corrosion Materials, which is celebrating its 20th year as a member, says that being a part of MTI has really helped him become more familiar with aspects of the Chemical Processing Industry that he wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise. “The forum has proven to be an invaluable resource to me,” he says. “As the technical materials expert at Corrosion Materials, I have leaned on the wide knowledge base of the membership for answers and suggestions to different situations that I did not have the experience to answer on my own. The MTI library alone is impressive and on par with other top technical resources available in the industry.” Rodriguez adds that Corrosion Materials has established great relationships with current and former member companies, and MTI continually proves to be a good investment. “We are honored to be a part of one of the top technical organizations around the world.”

The Future is Already Here
Jeremy Nelson, Fixed Equipment Engineer, Operations Excellence at Koch Ag & Energy Solutions, recognizes the value his company has realized in 10 years of membership but
is also looking forward to what is next. “The projects we have worked on in MTI have helped us answer some internal questions, but also the relationships in MTI have improved our ability to run our plants safely and reliably,” states MTI’s current AmeriTAC Chair. “Many technical problems are not going to be solved or disappear in a year, so a decade feels like we have made some progress. But also, in comparison to the projects that the 30- and 40- year member companies have been involved in, it is clear that there is lot more value to be gained from the membership going forward.”

MTI projects have provided Nelson and his colleagues with insights into what might be possible improvement opportunities for many areas of Koch’s business. “On a risk management front, MTI projects such as Carbonate SCC in Alkaline Sour Waters, Stress Relaxation Cracking #291, and Duplex REACS, MI of Structures #275, the various 20Cr32Ni projects, etc. have been valuable,” he notes. “On a materials discovery front, the Additive Manufacturing roundtable and the HTHA roundtable have been good insights into the realm of the possible. And the forum discussions have helped us learn from the materials producers and the other operators. The combination of the technical knowledge share from both producers and suppliers is usually more relevant and valuable than what is shared in the wider industry forums.”

What you do know can help you. “A lot at MTI is uncommon knowledge in the industry,” maintains Nelson. “Sometimes when we use an MTI report to justify a materials selection or repair decision in the plant, it feels like opening a time capsule. You kind of have to explain how a group of people managed to get their heads together on the exact problem the plant is having and come up with a solution, then write a report on it. As William Gibson said, ‘The future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed.’”

Although Ascend Performance Materials has officially been an MTI member for a decade, the company’s roots can be traced to the organization’s beginnings. “Originally the
majority of Ascend was the Nylon division of Monsanto, so we have a strong legacy relationship with MTI,” shares William Paden, Principal Corrosion & Materials Engineering
Specialist at Ascend. “Monsanto was sitting at the table when MTI was first envisioned and joined when MTI was formed. Monsanto spun off the business to Solutia, and
when Ascend Performance Materials purchased the business, it was easy to show the value of MTI membership to the new management.”

According to Paden, there are numerous reasons that Ascend has stayed the course and remained a member for the last ten years: “These include being involved in projects on issues affecting the company, having urgent questions answered in the forum, providing training and leadership opportunities for employees, and networking with other materials and fabrication SMEs. As Ascend has grown outside of North America, it has provided contacts for suppliers near our newly acquired manufacturing sites.”

Over time, Paden and his colleagues have built connections that they have been able to rely on time and time again. “MTI brings together the people who can help solve problems,” he stresses. “Because it is smaller than the other organizations, we are able to develop great relationships. With those great relationships comes the ability to directly call others who we see at the MTI meetings, who probably have already solved the same, or similar issue. In short, being a member of MTI is kind of like having a Central Engineering group with hundreds of Corrosion and Materials Engineering SMEs.”

No Small Feat!
“It has been an honor for Neotiss to become an MTI member,” says Wendy McGowan, Senior Manager of Business Development. “While five years has gone very quickly, especially with the pandemic over the past two years, we have been able to be very active in relatively a short time. I’m pretty sure we have not missed an AmeriTAC or EuroTAC
meeting since we joined. We have participated in many worthwhile projects and have contributed to forum discussions in our field of expertise. We gave a presentation at EuroTAC and participated in the Global Solutions Conference.” For this international tube manufacturer, participation clearly delivers value.

One project in particular made time pass quickly for McGowan: “For me personally, the highlight of my activity was being Co-Champion on the Best Practices for Reactive and Refractory Metals handbook project team and seeing this project through to publication.” She joined the project team in 2016 and worked on the comprehensive reference book until it was finally completed in 2021.

Although that project team completed its mission and dissolved, McGowan knows that other opportunities to interact with members are right around the corner. Maybe it’s another project, maybe it’s answering a forum question, or maybe it’s the next Zoom or live meeting. “The best benefit to Neotiss is the networking,” she shares. “While we have expertise in our materials and in the applications where our tubing is used and can provide technical assistance in those areas, we do not typically have direct interactions with end users in the supply chain. MTI has allowed those connections.” Of course, spending your first five years of membership as a very active participant helps.

“Given the current business climate it’s no small feat to reach this type of milestone,” reflects Adam Renstrom, General Manager – Houston Operations, Ward Vessel & Exchanger. Despite the challenging times, strong connections developed within the MTI community have kept the Ward team coming back for more. “The relationships we’ve been able to build with other members has been invaluable to us,” emphasizes Renstrom. “There is no doubt that we have enjoyed the networking from a sales perspective,
but we’ve also been able to utilize those relationships to help solve problems we encounter during fabrication, R&D, creating weld procedures, etc.” For example, “We had a project recently with some complex WPS testing requirements. It was extremely beneficial for us to have relationships already set in place with some of the brightest metallurgists in the industry, so we could gain some insights on the best path forward.”

Five years is plenty long enough to experience the comradery members develop at MTI. “It does not take long to feel at home when you begin attending MTI meetings,” shares Renstrom. “There is a real sense of teamwork and togetherness that is unparalleled by any other group like this. Ward Vessel & Exchanger is honored to be a part of this wonderful organization. We are definitely excited to continue this journey with MTI, and we look forward to celebrating the next milestone!”

Although New Castle Stainless Plate (NCSP) officially hit the 5-year mark in 2021, its affiliation with MTI stretches to the early 1990s involvement of its predecessors, Avesta Sheffield and Outokumpu Stainless Plate. “We became members of MTI then and remain so now because of our orientation to meet the needs of our customers,” explains Tony Palermo, Regional Manager, New Castle Stainless Plate, LLC. “This membership milestone is a type of confirmation that the MTI community has satisfied this orientation as we better understand the challenges that our customers face and work with experts to develop cost-effective and practical solutions to their challenges.”

Palermo points out that NCSP has also found value in being an MTI project team member and learning of the practical issues that the Process Industries face but believes
that the greatest benefit has been in the development of mutual relationships that can yield understandings and solutions. “MTI is a right-sized, practical community that really
allows deep conversations to take place with people that you get to know,” he continues. “NCSP appreciates the neutral forum that MTI provides for producers and suppliers/service providers to formulate actual solutions to real world problems without the biases encountered in the normal course of business interactions.

It really is an honor for New Castle Stainless Plate to be a part of the MTI community as we collectively solve difficult materials challenges for the Process Industries.”
Congratulations to all of these members for their continued commitment to MTI, for helping each other solve the industry’s toughest challenges, and for building on their organization’s wealth of materials science knowledge and ensuring those critical resources are around for future generations. 

Albemarle Celebrates 40-year Anniversary at MTI
When Albemarle joined MTI way back in 1981, the four-year-old organization had just started work on Project #23, preparation of a manual on Bolted Closures for the Chemical Process Industries and had just launched a live forum to discuss technical problems at its March TAC meeting.

Four decades and many projects later, one of MTI’s longest remaining members is still a major contributor to the technical community that it helped build. In fact, Albemarle’s Designated Representative, Hardin Wells, was Project Co-Champion of the recently published “Best Practices for Reactive and Refractory Metals in the CPI” book.

Despite the significant work that Wells put into the publication, he cites the project as the most recent example of Albemarle benefitting from MTI membership. “Taking a champion’s role on a big project of this nature is most certainly a high value activity,” he explains. “Not just in terms of being able to steer the project team’s efforts to maximize the value to the champion’s company, but also in developing leadership and teamwork skills for the champion and even for the rest of the team. And finally, in building or advancing subject matter expertise for all who participate. It truly is a win for the company, a win for MTI, and a win for our industry in the end.”

Wells, who has been a leader of and key contributor to many other MTI Projects since he first started coming to MTI meetings in the early 1990s, is proud of his company’s participation in this unique Materials Technology Institute. “Understanding that Albemarle has been involved as a member of MTI for such an extended period of time, is truly an impressive achievement − one that is undoubtedly the result of the commitment and passion of several generations of technical experts and an endearing appreciation of the great value that MTI brings,” he notes. “It is an honor to be a part of a company with this level of commitment.”

It has been a worthwhile investment, according to Wells, and that is why Albemarle has continued as an active member for so many years. “I think the impressive part of MTI membership is the many ways that member companies benefit,” points out Wells. “From an Albemarle perspective, there are several aspects that have made our participation so valuable. First and foremost is the opportunity to network with peer scientists and engineers in
the interest of advancing materials science for our company. From these interactions, many of my colleagues have accelerated solutions, grown their own technical expertise, and even had the opportunity to contribute to many different industry projects that will benefit all of us in the CPI for years to come.

The vast technical knowledge gathered from those projects is retrievable from MTI’s many books, final reports, and presentations. Those reliable resources continue to help Wells and his colleagues. “In addition to the developmental opportunities, is the incredible wealth of industry publications, best practices, training programs, and lessons learned that we have been able to take advantage of from the MTI Library,” he continues. “This impressive body of knowledge is a powerful resource, which also helps member companies mitigate knowledge-base erosion that comes from turnover and retirements. Again, helping us accelerate our learning curve and bring better, more robust solutions to our manufacturing sites far more quickly.”

Albemarle participates in other industry associations, but none quite like MTI, according to Wells. “The personal interaction that takes place at the MTI meetings and in the online forum is unlike most other organizations across the CPI,” he observes. “There is almost a philanthropic nature across the MTI
membership, in trying to help each other out with corrosion and materials challenges. While we all carefully respect the intellectual property aspects of what we each do, the mechanisms associated with corrosion processes are common to us all. Being able to reach out directly or indirectly to the membership with specific corrosion and materials issues and get rapid, experienced, and insightful input is what I think really separates MTI from other
industry organizations.”

To be able to celebrate 40 years as a member of any institution is remarkable in this day and age of constant change. The pragmatic Wells boils down the reasons for Albemarle’s long-term commitment with his materials engineering hardhat on. “At the end of the day, one of the often underappreciated
benefits that MTI brings to the CPI is helping all of us make chemicals more safely and more cost effectively,” he concludes. “Especially when we consider that the great majority of loss of primary containment events are related to corrosion or materials degradation mechanisms, I think it is easy to appreciate
this value.” MTI extends its own great appreciation to Albemarle for the company’s four decades of membership and ongoing commitment to the improvement of the Process Industries.