Development and Engineering
Manufacturing engineering is defined as the steps through which raw materials are transformed into a final product. Whilst this holds true for any form of manufacturing, at Welltec, Development and Engineering (D&E) is the realization and transformation of ideas of innovation into reality. Innovation, thinking differently, disruptive engineering…the foundations of the company are built upon solving the challenges facing our customers, sometimes through conventional wisdom and other times, using entirely novel approaches.
From the first and original tractor that revolutionized conveyance in horizontal wells, to our pioneering Welltec® Annular Barriers that are challenging conventional thinking about well completions, transforming these ideas into real technologies has required a level of craftsmanship second to none in any industry. The need to manufacture custom components of any shape and size, any complexity, to extreme tolerances in a safe, consistent and fast way set the path for Welltec manufacturing and continues to guide our overall strategy towards product delivery.
Our utilization is now at 75% and continuing to increase. We are currently rivalling world-class manufacturing benchmarks set by some of the leading automotive manufacturers.
Organization & People
From our humble beginnings almost 25 years ago which were centred around just a handful of people, Welltec D&E (which also incorporates manufacturing), now employs approximately 200 people and spread across multiple countries. Our primary manufacturing sites are based in Denmark with Interventions services being produced in Allerød, a small community just north of Copenhagen, and Completions products being made in Esbjerg, the Danish oilfield hub. The D&E function is split into sub functions that include pure engineering & design which encompasses disciplines of electrical, mechanical, hydraulic engineering as well as software engineers, manufacturing including CNC specialists, automation engineers and technicians, and production & assembly including key skillsets such as industrial welding, assembly, quality checking etc.
In many industries, terms such as automation are difficult to grasp and attach to real results. In Welltec automation has very real and finite results. Over the last 5 years, we have been on a perpetual journey to embed automated processes within our manufacturing centres. This has been a steady year on year process and continues today. Robotic CNC machines now contribute to the vast majority of equipment output and the advantages are clear and follow our underlying mission of safe, consistent and fast, faultless delivery. Automation has required a significant commitment and investment in terms of time, money, patience, learning and most importantly, personnel. It has allowed us, and continues to allow us, to optimize our capital expenditure whilst boosting our production levels by well over 100% and still rising.
One of the most important learnings from this journey has been that adding automated machinery and robots alone is insufficient to yield any meaningful or lasting results. People’s acceptance of this technology and training people to use these new manufacturing methods has been key. Just as the manufacturing process itself has evolved over time, so has the requirements of the people working in manufacturing. Today, we are employing a healthy mixture of highly skilled craftsmen & women of all backgrounds and also engineers & technicians directly from universities with programming capabilities who are managing complete production lines from start to finish.
Quality and Performance
People have been at the core of this transition towards automation but of course, there are key areas where machines excel. Repeatability, quality control, production to microscopic tolerances and the ability to maintain production levels 24-7 around the clock are the major benefits that are now being realized. One of the leading manufacturing key performance indicators, the swarf time (or percentage of time that CNC machines are cutting swarf) is the most direct indicator of efficiency. It is a high-level indicator that encompasses a number of contributing factors: equipment utilization, equipment operational status, engineering input, the flow of all materials to CNC machines etc.
In terms of manufacturing benchmarks, the automotive industry is often viewed as one of the most efficient in the world. A world class operation in this domain sees machines taking swarf around 88% of the time. We have in turn taken these industry leading targets as our own and are currently on track at around 75% and steadily climbing. This is not something that machinery alone can achieve, it is the quality and determination of our people have enabled this.
Welltec has been built on an obsession with providing our clients solutions through innovation. We are obsessed with what our customers want and this transcends throughout our culture in everything we do. In today’s operating environment, despite a slowly recovering industry, our customers still want and expect the best, along with even greater value. These demands are inherent in the results of our overall D&E strategy along with our quest to eliminate all forms of waste and non-value adding processes through automation. A journey we started 20 years ago and that will continue for many more…