Graco Inc., a leading manufacturer of fluid handling equipment, surveyed key oil and petroleum industry experts to better understand emerging fluid distribution challenges. The industry outlook report details compelling findings – including highlighting the concerns, business needs and technologies that are top of mind for oil jobbers, energy marketers and petroleum distributors.

“It’s so important to keep our fingers on the pulse of the industry. We know customers’ priorities shifted during the early pandemic in order to maintain business continuity. This survey/report comes at a critical time and allows all of us in the oil and petroleum industry to gauge what’s most important as we move forward,” said Laura Evanson, Director of Marketing in Graco’s Lubrication Equipment Division. “From visibility, to managing rising costs or overcoming labor shortages, and everything in between, we heard straight from our fellow oil and petroleum professionals about their challenges. Through this report, we’re excited to offer future-focused insights and strategies straight from industry leaders to help the industry chart a course for fluid distribution success in 2021 and beyond.”

The survey results revealed three key insights. First, it is now clear that visibility has become a mission-critical challenge for fluid distribution as the industry grappled with new workflows, halted supply chains and unexpected equipment shortages in 2020. In fact, 79% of survey respondents said visibility to customer fluid supply is important or essential to their organization’s delivery strategy. Also, 55% of respondents said they currently provide some form of level-monitoring services for their customers.

Another key insight is an existing and emergent need for fluid distributors to find solutions to better manage costs as they navigate an uncertain future with lubricant volume growth and road transport demand nearing its peak. Nearly half of respondents reported providing equipment at no cost to some or most of their customers as part of their service contract. When surveyed about their top challenges, 24% of fluid distributors cited overcoming capital investment costs as the number one priority in the next few years.

Overcoming the ongoing labor shortage with innovation was also a key insight revealed by the survey. The ongoing labor shortage ranked as a top concern among 24 percent of respondents. Distributors have sought out digital tools and technologies to streamline workflows and empower existing employees to do more — and do it better. Distributors have also invested in infrastructure that better aligns with employee career aspirations and modernizes jobs to match the skill sets required of the modern workforce.

The survey results also revealed that 85 percent of respondents consider equipment quality one of the three most important factors in their buying decision – yet only 68 percent of fluid distributors would say the same about equipment price.