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Doble in depth

David Zabetakis talks about his firm's regional prospects

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The testing industry is moving towards continuous monitoring of power assets.
The testing industry is moving towards continuous monitoring of power assets.

Doble president David Zabetakis talks about his firm’s regional prospects

Doble president, David Zabetakis, sounds particularly confident of his firm’s prospects over 2013, and in the Middle East in particular. His firm, he says, has been around since 1920, which one can imagine grants a fairly experienced perspective on the current market conditions around the world.

Offering solutions under three major pillars, the firm’s offerings extend to such things as a database of electrical systems - the largest of its kind in the world – that has over 29 million data points on electrical apparatus; its Doble Client Portal which includes over 2,000 technical papers on everything from apparatus design to failure reports; and online continuous monitoring tools to help clients manage the efficiency and reliability of assets.

This broad service offering, and long market experience, Zabetakis says, also extends to the Middle East region in particular.

“We have a long history in the Middle East. We’ve been serving the region for almost 55 years now, providing everything from instrument sales to consulting and testing services.

"I would say historically we were primarily an instrument sales-focused company in the Middle East, and over the last two and a half decades, we have grown significantly in the region, with the bulk of that growth driven by the services side of our business,” he says.

Zabetakis says that Doble has noticed a particular need for rotating machine condition assessment, including residual life analysis, as a crucial means to maintain and upkeep high-value power assets.

“We also perform a lot of transformer condition assessment, and we also do forensic analysis with and for our clients.

So I think, along with some of our testing products, these services have been a big draw in the region, and obviously it’s an area of focus for us to make sure we can support that with our professional engineers.”

Doble’s current method of operation in the region has been to support the region from hubs elsewhere – in the United States, the UK, South Africa and others – but the demand in the region is prompting a change in emphasis.

“Because of the growth we are experiencing, we are now opening a new office in Dubai. The intent of that office is to grow what we consider is a super regional hub as a services, as well as a sales and solutions centre, for the entire region,” he explains.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Zabetakis reports that Saudi Arabia has been a notably fruitful market over the last few years, but says that most other parts of the region also look set for growth.

“Over the last several years we’ve done a great deal of work in Saudi Arabia – more than anywhere else. But as we launch products and services – such as our asset risk management systems – we have been getting a lot of interest not only in Saudi, but in other parts of North Africa and the Gulf. As we progress and grow with the industry, so does the need for the products and services that we develop grow too.”

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Current business
Zabetakis says that the last few years has seen the firm focus on funding a lot of new R&D efforts to update existing lines and launch entirely new products.

One of the key industry trends that the firm has tracked with keen interest (and investment) has been the move towards monitoring assets on a continual, online basis.

“Like the industry, we are moving much more from time-based, offline testing to online continuous monitoring –as the assets of production, transmission and distribution of power start to age, as well as the workforce that is maintaining them.

"For the industry as a whole, we have to go more towards online and continuous monitoring to assure the reliability of the assets.

“As such, we have been working in collaboration with our utility and government partners to develop these kinds of products. In the last two years, our primary focus has been in that area of R&D, and this has been supporting our international growth in specific critical locations that have the greatest need.”

Future prospects
Considering prospects for the year ahead, Zabetakis believes that 2013 is looking really good for his firm, as a result of the central importance of the power industry that it supports.

“Considering the global economic climate, the one thing that still holds is that the production and delivery of power is really still the lifeblood of society. Without power, society really falters.

"So some utilities and some governments might slow down some of their spending on some of the products and solutions, but they are still buying them. They still have a need to ensure the reliability, safety and longer-life expectancy of these major assets.

“There are areas of the world, especially in the Middle East, that are very interested in moving forwards into real-time monitoring, so we’re growing in that area rather quickly. We see good solid growth for us in 2013, and a lot of that growth is coming from the Middle East and a few other regions of the world,” he concludes.”

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