Very few industries are as demanding or as hazardous as the offshore sector and the closely connected subsea industry. Creating engineering solutions for these industries requires an almost forensic attention to detail and a build quality that exceeds most aerospace applications. It is in this arena that Oilgear has excelled, and following a major recent investment, has increased manufacturing automation and testing facilities in order to deliver more cost effective solutions for the industry.
The offshore and subsea industries use large quantities of low viscosity fluids at high pressure, up to 1,000 bar, which would normally create significant problems for conventional hydraulic systems. Oilgear has developed specialist components such as pumps and control valves, which are optimised for operation with low viscosity fluids.
For 95 years the company has been delivering hydraulic solutions with a specific focus on high technology pumps, valves and control systems. Working closely with OEMs and end users, Oilgear has set the bar very high in terms of product quality and reliability. Nowhere is this more important than in the subsea environment, which is both hazardous and environmentally sensitive.
Short lead times
The flexibility of the company means that it can develop a new project from concept to prototype to testing in just 12 weeks and still demonstrate the performance and reliability of the new product. This is in part attributed to the company’s long history of using computational simulation tools and finite element analysis (FEA) to determine the most appropriate design.
Oilgear has invested $10 million in its facilities around the world and a considerable amount of this investment has been made in the testing facilities which are crucial for observing real world characteristics and using them to improve the simulation programs.
Having used computer simulation tools for over thirty years, Oilgear has adopted SimulationX, which is used throughout the oil and gas industry for fine tuning hydraulic designs. This simplifies the design process when working on projects with OEMs, such as defining ram closure timing for blow-off prevention (BOP) control systems, pressure drop calculations or ROV controls. By using SimulationX, overall development time can be minimised and new control systems brought to full operation more efficiently.
Testing for greater reliability
Within each manufacturing facility, Oilgear has extensive testing equipment that is constantly working to verify the durability of pumps, valves, regulators and custom components. The tests have not only been carried out using low viscosity fluids, but also, in extreme circumstances, sand-laden seawater to test for durability with highly contaminated fluids.
The information gained from years of testing has been used to continuously refine the design of many components including the pumps that are at the heart of every hydraulic system. Oilgear has over 45 years’ experience in manufacturing rugged equipment for pumping environmentally-friendly hydraulic fluids. Designing both fixed and variable displacement pumps, the company has developed hydrodynamic thrust bearing technology and uses polymer coatings to enable operation with low viscosity or other special fluids.
Designing new and innovative hydraulic components for the offshore industry is far from simple; the industry is heavily regulated and a number of certification schemes operate to ensure that every aspect of the industry maintains safe and reliable operating procedures. Designing equipment for this industry requires not only excellent knowledge of the standards but also a desire to exceed them where possible to ensure future compliance.
One example of the critical pieces of safety equipment is the BOP system, which is designed to protect the rig crew and the equipment itself as well as preventing contamination of the local environment. Oilgear has used its experience and expertise in hydraulic control systems to design, simulate, manufacture and test various components for these systems.
Results through teamwork
No matter what the application, the only way to truly deliver the expectations of a customer is to understand the process, the requirements of the control device and the level of performance expected by the customer. This can be best achieved by forming an integrated team with clients, such as OEMs, and having design engineers and project managers embedded with the customer to ensure seamless communication and optimum results for each project.
In this way, the design process can be streamlined and the objectives of the project achieved in the most efficient manner.
However, this is just the start of the partnership between the designers and the end user. Working within an industry such as the offshore sector also requires a worldwide after sales network to ensure that every client has access to engineering support for their hydraulic control systems. In the case of Oilgear, that means being able to get fully qualified engineers mobilised, anywhere in the world, within 48 hours to deliver support.
Meeting the demands of this highly specialised industry is a complex undertaking that requires both expertise and years of experience in delivering solutions as well as providing the required levels of after sales support. Oilgear continues to deliver innovative products and industry leading solutions for many applications, especially those involving low viscosity fluids.