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Photo courtesy Taylor Oilfield Mfg.

Oil Field Parts

Finished machined drive knuckle with hard metal.

Big, Heavy and Automated:
Trends in Machining for Seafloor Recovery
Extracting oil and gas in the deep ocean requires heavy-duty expertise. But the tight skilled labor market is forcing more efficient use of capital equipment through single setup and automation
Bruce Morey Contributing Editor

T

he sea is beckoning to energy providers, with oil and gas drilling platforms moving into everdeeper waters. The US is seeing a rebound in offshore drilling after recovering from the BP Gulf of Mexico spill in 2010. Dana Scott of Mazak Corp. said 105 drilling permits were is-

sued through August 2012, compared to 79 in all of 2011. What’s more, Scott said the equipment is getting elderly, which means it will need to be replaced soon—a potential boon to manufacturers. “Of the 474 jack-up rigs used in the worldwide fleet, 317 are 25 years and older—approaching the end of their useful life,” Scott said. “There is going to be a tremendous amount of deep-water drilling.”

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regional manager for Absolute Machine Tools (Lorain. COO of Rockwell Precision (Houston. motion compensation equipment. Harder materials that are more durable are another difference between sea and land. they mix that work with directional drilling components and blocks used in hydraulic fracturing for land-based rigs because the machining equipment he needs to produce oil and gas components does not differ greatly whether it is land or sea-based equipment. “On the offshore side. agreed that a key difference 52 ManufacturingEngineeringMedia. These include stainless steel with an Inconel inlay for grooves in piping and couplings. used by Rockwell Precision. such as tooling. Bruce Cates. mainly in duplex materials. the supplier of the YouJi machine tools Setting up for hard metal pocket to be machined.” Cotrino said. There are some differences though. spherical blowout preventers (BOP) and valve bodies. However.com | February 2013 . OH). requiring high cutting forces. said that his company is delivering more components for use in offshore drilling.Oil Field Parts Contract manufacturer Dan Cotrino. TX). Photo courtesy Taylor Oilfield Mfg. the parts are larger.

550 N•m]. such as their YV1600 ATC+C.” Absolute specializes in both two-axis and three-axis Photo courtesy Rockwell Precision VTLs—live tooling provides the third axis.” Cates said. our 2000-mm vertical turret lathe [VTL] delivers 41. He also noted that the bulk of what Absolute Machine Tools sells are three-axis machines. Rockwell Precision uses YouJi vertical turret lathes supplied by Absolute Machine Tools. “Live tooling means we can do the whole thing in one setup and not bottleneck a [separate] boring mill. Riser flange machined on a horizontal boring mill at Rockwell Precision. primarily for combined turning and drilling.com | February 2013 . to do the mill 54 ManufacturingEngineeringMedia. He believes a stable machine needs to deliver high torque." Equipment on the seafloor. “For example.Oil Field Parts "between land-based extraction and offshore is exotic materials.133 ft-lbs of torque [55. These are equipped with live tooling. he explained. boasting a 1600-mm diameter table. what you are looking for in a machine is one with a heavy. “To cut exotic materials. rigid box-way machine able to take difficult cuts. has to withstand higher pressures. needed for most offshore components.

deals with both major oil field equipment suppliers and small contract manufacturing shops.” Although each company will have its own.” Estes said. “Tolerances that once were measured in millimeters are going to microns.” He also owns a smaller YV1200ATC+C with live tooling and YV1600ATC without live tooling. and valve bodies—all for offshore. “They are all going to be redesigned. NC). He reported that a third party must witness tests for practically every phase of the process. future challenges to machining as they become larger and use ever more exotic materials. adapter rings.com 55 . Today certain features have finishes that are found in the aerospace industry. more exotic materials. (Charlotte. “We do a lot of our spherical BOPs with that machine. unique design for BOPs. corporate account manager.work.” Estes said. all of the BOPs in the deep sea are going to be changed out. such as holes with angles that intersect other holes. Surface finishes were largely ignored in the past. and more stringent machining accuracies. and liquid penetrant testing at different manufacturing phases.” Richard Estes. They use primarily ultrasonic testing. oil and gas for Okuma America Corp. newer. magnetic particle testing. These include much larger physical size.” Cotrino said. “Some “All of the blow-out preventers in the deep sea are going to be changed out. A key difference that Cotrino has observed since the 2010 spill is the increasing amount of nondestructive testing of subsea components and the witnessing of those tests. some of the new elements are common to all. “Downhole instruments are now made of titanium with very complicated structures. as well as pistons. He noted that tricky devices like BOPs and downhole instruments are February 2013 | ManufacturingEngineeringMedia. locking rings. “Since the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill.” he said.

” he said. milling. mostly with combined machining and turning centers. he has seen equipment transition from shops filled primarily with manual equipment to advanced four and five-axis CNC machines. who noted that labor costs have increased for manufacturers of oil and gas equipment as skilled labor continues to be difficult to find. 56 ManufacturingEngineeringMedia." said Marc Breaux. long bed lengths and rethreading functions.” Since his start in machining for oil and gas. This requires a rigid machine to meet tighter tolerances and challenges us to make larger machines. heavy-duty C-axis turning spindles..” An example of a larger.” he said.” agreed Scott of Mazak.000–$100. and other parts with long splines on them. . “The technical requirements for these parts are about the same. The move to done-in-one setup is not isolated to Taylor Oilfield. drilling and optional long boring bar capabilities.000. We do a lot of shaft work. (Broussard.. They also feature B-axis high-torque milling spindles. These provide turning. manufacturing manager of Taylor Oilfield Mfg. Reducing Demand for Labor Not all contract manufacturing shops know whether their products are used on land or in sea. components.Oil Field Parts take up to 300 hours to machine and the initial material cost is $60. "Ninety percent of the components we make are for mud motors. LA).com | February 2013 . “A single-setup operation minimizes labor and thereby reduces cost because one person does the work of what used to take three or four. especially if they are already familiar with operating milling centers. “We do a lot of three-axis and four-axis work. multitasking machine that Okuma sees as a future mainstay in oil and gas is its MULTUS B750 capable of delivering 37 kW of power and 5000 N•m of torque with a maximum turning diameter of 1050 mm. “One-setup machining has grown in importance. They have a Mazak Integrex e-650H-II and two Integrex e-500H-II multitasking machine models. He also emphasized that done-in-one is no more difficult for a machine operator to handle. long parts.

business. Schlumberger (Houston.” said Luke Brader. such as PCD drill bits.and J-Series Integrex multitasking milling/ turning centers. and a maximum machining length of 160" (4064 mm). Stakes are High The 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill highlighted the inherent dangers in the business and the need for top-of-the-line engineering and manufacturing. He compared the measurement. on heavier parts. If we make a mistake.” he said. we can kill somebody. because it allows them to machine parts for either subsea or land service. president and CEO of BHI Corp. For example. TX). the e-670HS-II cuts parts to 42" (1067 mm) in diameter.Recent additions to Mazak’s line of machining centers targeting oil and gas include the newer Integrex e-670. TX). Mazak introduced their I. (Houston. and documenta- February 2013 | ManufacturingEngineeringMedia.com 57 . “It is the anchor machine for the oil service group. For smaller components. “Quality is paramount now in this Photo courtesy Rockwell Precision Measurement and inspection requirements are increasing. inspection. His shop primarily supplies a single OEM oil services supplier. with more sophisticated features. which has demanding standards.

Oil Field Parts all physical dimensions on everything that goes out of our door. button.” Safety isn’t the only driver in quality. so a failure of a critical part at the bottom of the well. is 100% inspected. such as the components for perforating guns BHI produces. “It needs to run 24/7.” BHI Corp. and archived. multiple axes—you put the part in and push the Okuma’s larger horizontal lathes meet increasingly stringent requirements for oil and gas. that is becoming attractive. can make a rig useless for days at a time. (Sudbury. Competitive pressures from overseas. Brader also confirmed two trends—bigger parts and the Photo courtesy Okuma need to automate.” Brader explains. “Machines with toolchangers. each dimension of each part. multiple spindles.” Brader said. is pushing him to automate. received equipment that meets these goals from Methods Machine Tools Inc. and it comes out complete with lathe and mill work all at once.com | February 2013 .000 per hour to operate. coupled with an apparent shortage of skilled machinists. “We maintain and digitally archive a record on 58 ManufacturingEngineeringMedia. though. Offshore drilling platforms cost more than $200. MA) via their tion requirements as comparable to those for nuclear-powered submarines. “Everything that leaves BHI Corp.

bored. like you can on a manual machine. and two setup stations. TX). or grooves that require “If we make a mistake. noted for small lot sizes. including two Matsuura MAM63Vs five-axis in a 34-pallet cell. a Nakamura NTJX nine-axis turning cell. such as threads and interior/exterior profiles. “Failure is not an option for drillheads that might need to go down two to three miles. according to David Lucius. vice president of sales for North and Central America. “The parts for oil and gas have heavy cutting requirements because of the size and materials February 2013 | ManufacturingEngineeringMedia. and horizontal machining centers (HMC) for the oil and gas industry. director of product strategy and product development for MAG IAS.” he said.distributor Koch Machine Tool Co. MAG IAS (Fond du Lac. we are a CNC/automated shop with two 12-hour shifts. with some orders up to a 100. “The trade-off is that you cannot run one piece on a CNC. This is a far cry from either aerospace or automotive." Machines should be versatile to facilitate processes such as complex contouring. The Matsuuras are equipped with BigPlus 40 taper 12. required on many oil field components. Both machines have spindle and tool probes and tailstocks. there are turned features. sharing 34 pallets with a cell controller.000-rpm spindles both in one cell. and two four-axis Fanuc RoboDrills. “In addition to milled. vertical lathes. Methods Machine Tools. and tapped features. WI) provides a full range of large horizontal boring mills (HBM). “We are not a manual shop. “Even though machining is rigorous. (Houston. part tolerances can be as tight as less than a thousandth of an inch. we can kill someone.” Drill bits are as important in sea drilling as land drilling. Automation can be tricky in this business. Inc.” said Peter Beyer.com 59 .” he said.” involved. Brader noted that lot sizes vary from 10 to 30.

” Contouring is required for a number of parts used at the wellhead: valve bodies.com/ Site/Home.mag-ias.” Beyer said.000 lbs [36.com Mazak Ph: 281-931-7770 Web site: http://www.mazak.” ME Want More Information? Absolute Machine Tools Ph: 800-852-7825 Web site: http://www.bhicorporation. and means a single setup to machine an entire part. and derives power from the machine’s main spindle motor. “The key word is integrated.Oil Field Parts turning. MAG is introducing an integrated contouring head for its boring mills and large HMCs.html 60 ManufacturingEngineeringMedia.com/ MAG Ph: 859-534-4600 Web site: http://www. Ph: 978-443-5388 Web site: www.com Rockwell Precision Ph: 281-890-9331 Taylor Oilfield Mfg. tooling cost and cycle time.com/english/ index.The head handles a diameter range of 50 to 540 mm. In his 30 years of dealing with oil and gas customers. one thing he is certain of—parts are getting bigger and heavier.com | February 2013 . piping. and part probing with main spindle or an auxiliary probe. citing advantages such as fully automatic tool change into the contouring head. connectors.absolutemachine.okuma.” Beyer said. Ph: 713-644-2431 Web site: http://www.html Methods Machine Tools Inc. Ph: 337-837-4084 Web site: http://www. saves operator time.tayloroilfield. Said Beyer: “We’re seeing parts now greater than 60" [1524 mm] in diameter and over 80. To help manufacturers get the most out of their equipment while easing labor requirements. “This is mechanically simpler. use of standard tools.com/ BHI Corp. or motor parts. Ph: 704-588-7000 Web site: http://www.methodsmachine.com Okuma America Corp.3 t] with cutting at the extremes of machine travel.