For its inaugural list of inventive leaders on the forefront of cutting-edge technology, E&P magazine selected 47 individuals from across the global oil and gas industry — and Caterpillar Oil & Gas Account Manager Derek Kamp was among the honorees.
E&P recognized Kamp, who manages Caterpillar’s well service industry segment, for his lead role in developing the Pump Electronic Monitoring System (PEMS). This first-of-its kind technology for hydraulic fracturing pumps is helping operations reduce downtime, preserve power end and fluid end components, avoid catastrophic failure and make smarter decisions about preventive maintenance.
The idea for the technology came from listening carefully to customers, a responsibility that Kamp — who joined Caterpillar as an engineer in 2004 — has taken seriously over his 20-plus-year career.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping others, and applying this to work situations just came naturally,” he says. “Also, if you don’t take customers’ concerns seriously, eventually you won’t have any customers.”
In this case, customers were complaining about having to tear apart their hydraulic fracturing pumps — a process that’s expensive (to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars) and time-consuming. It’s also inefficient, identifying problems AFTER they’ve already caused downtime and generated repair costs.
To develop a more proactive solution, Kamp started with a list of technical requirements detailing exactly what customers wanted from a pump monitoring system. Two features topped that list: 1) the ability to detect leaks and cavitation and 2) the ability to monitor speeds, temperatures and lube pressures.
With the requirements set, Kamp led the internal team that developed PEMS, which analyzes massive amounts of data in real time to identify any signs of a possible fail state, then alerts operators immediately if there’s an issue. The innovative technology, which first rolled out to the market in May 2016, earned Kamp and his team members a patent. Subsequent generations released over the past few years have added to its monitoring and detection capabilities.
Solving real-world problems, like pump failures, is one of the key reasons Kamp pursued engineering as a career two decades ago. It’s a decision he doesn’t regret.
“Working for Caterpillar has been an amazing opportunity,” he says. “It has allowed me to utilize my interests in science and technology and apply them to helping others. It’s a good feeling when work feels more like a hobby than a job.”