Flowserve has more than 17,000 associates worldwide, and we have one of the broadest portfolios of products in the flow control industry. And those products go into a huge range of applications ranging from sub-sea oil and gas exploration, to nuclear power generation, to petrochemical processing, etc.
Across that entire product portfolio, and across the entire range of applications they serve, across the entire scope of geographic differences that our products support, we gain, in those 17,000 associates worldwide, something valuable: incredible knowledge on what actually works for the customer. And not just what their immediately stated needs are, but also what their latent needs are. Our ability to leverage that global knowledge base and bring that to bear in the design of new products, as well as the way that we service and support our customers when they do have issues in the field, is a key factor in our success, and a key vector of differentiation for us long-term.
The broader our portfolio gets, the larger our install base gets, the more knowledge we have. And our ability to exploit that knowledge and bring it to bear for each and every customer is the key to our long-term success.
Engineering is a discipline that's deeply ingrained in all aspects of the business. Engineering begins during the proposal development stage, and trying to find the right product to meet a customer's application, and then moves through the design stage, where we more often than not design a unique product to fit the unique customer requirements that we're trying to satisfy. And then follows that through production, to make sure that we're using the best and right manufacturing techniques to deliver that product on time to the required quality.
But engineering is also present in our after-market service and support organization, where we help our customers troubleshoot the product to make sure that they're getting the most productivity and efficiency out of the product that they can get.
The growth in our organization really impacts the way that we do engineering from a customer intimacy perspective. In today's world, when you're doing business in Latin America or China or the Middle East, they want to see engineers on the ground in that region that speak their language, that understand their customs, that understand the way business is done in those regions of the world. And those resources need to be able to understand the technical components of the product and be able to speak to the same level of proficiency as that lead product organization, which can be anywhere else in the world. Perhaps in the United States, perhaps in Western Europe.
So having an engineering organization that can effectively connect the dots between subject matter experts at that manufacturing center, as well as the distributed emerging regions where the customer is going to use the product and manage the life of the product, that's the key to enabling growth in today's economy.
The key initiatives within the global engineering organization are really a result of the way that we compete and the way we differentiate ourselves in the marketplace. Flowserve doesn't compete on a price basis. We compete on a basis of having the best overall technical products available, and that we will absolutely deliver on time with a quality product that absolutely meets the performance requirements on the day that it is commissioned, and we will have better lead times than anybody else in the organization.
Therefore, the engineering initiatives that we choose to exploit really need to support those vectors of differentiation. Tools that help us reduce the lead time between when a customer provides us a request for inquiry and when we can actually provide them a quotation. Tools that reduce our ability to have to reinvent the wheel every time a customer wants to purchase a product, so that we can design the product in a much shorter lead time to get it to manufacturing quicker.
These are the types of engineering initiatives that we drive in order to support our vectors of differentiation in the marketplace.