A Look Back and Forward in Manufacturing
Before we go any further into the new year, let’s take a look at what brought us here, starting with thinking about the mix of work that Optimation performed last year. And then let’s look at some of the other things going on in our world (not political).
Avocados and Hydrogen
Innovative, disruptive, game changing, groundbreaking; these all can describe some of the projects that occupied much of our 2018. Starting with a truly disruptive and aggressive young agribusiness intent on reducing on reducing food waste and improving the food chain. We built multiple “industrial-scale” machines that delivered avocados (for example) to your retailer that last longer. We also began engineering and fabricating test systems for fuel cell engines and stacks to advance the technology for our rising hydrogen economy, and to help reduce our carbon appetites.
Around the world
We continued long-standing relationships with some global organizations, maintaining their current operations through the support of our skilled trades and engineering capabilities as we do year after year, as well as providing project-specific engineering and installation support for these chemical, glass, and manufacturing firms. These world-class companies continue to retain Optimation to support their various needs for both on-demand service calls and infrastructure support. We also provide capital project development and execution in multiple disciplines and across different technologies.
Insulin, Nut Butters and NASA
We delivered another custom-engineered and built insulin pump testing system halfway around the world. Organic and natural food manufacturers expanded their operations and one called on us to continue to support their evolution from a small local shop to a nationwide provider of specialty nut butters and delicious related natural products. NASA and some commercial aerospace manufacturers contracted with Optimation and we delivered consulting services, and test and production equipment, for mission critical systems including repurposing of space subsystems before they are certified for reuse on additional missions.
Oil and Gas Lives On
Despite rumors to the contrary, oil and gas as an industry has not died. While it is not the juggernaut it recently was, oil field services and specialty technology for treating methane flares led to more Optimation specialty systems and still contributed to our workload and bottom line in 2018. These areas continue to be unique in our engineering and fabrication skill sets, delivering systems to Singapore and in North America this past year.
Chemical and Batch Process Design and Build
Specialty chemical processing continues to be a major area of business for us, seeing numerous fortune 500 companies executing capital projects and maintenance work last year. From California to Colorado to New York and around the country, we continually deliver successful projects leveraging our deeply-experienced process engineering expertise and our super-skilled pipefitting, metalworking, and controls teams.
While these projects represent industries as diverse as pharmaceutical, food, aerospace, and others, and are owned by public and private concerns both foreign and domestic, they all have in common the need to solve unique and challenging business and technical problems.
Effects of Taxes, Tariffs and Regulations
2018 presented special challenges in this regard with uncertainty, which is one of the biggest enemies of business. Tariffs, tax plan changes, interest rate hikes, increasing employment levels, and implementation of new and higher wage scales all contributed different parameters that affect our clients’ decision-making and priority-setting. While some regulatory relaxation may have occurred which many businesses welcome as helpful and liberating, there is still significant emphasis on worker and process safety which also drives many decisions in the kind of automation and process manufacturing that we engage in. We see a lot of continued activity in food processing, alternative energy development (such as fuel cells and solar) and expect to see ongoing development in oil and gas as well as more of that specialty chemical process work.
But we will save that for another blog topic, for another day. Thanks for visiting and reading, and all of us at Optimation wish you a happy, prosperous, and safe 2019.