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Diversifying in times of regression

What do you do when the main industry you supply your products to, rapidly declines into a period of regression? It’s a question that many companies have had to ask themselves in light of the downturn in the Oil & Gas market. For Outreach Ltd the answer was to focus more on individual project work and equipment life extension and service support for the Outreach Ltd and Palfinger product ranges, rather than merely selling products.

PTM700 being put through its paces on Outreach’s bespoke test stand

A recent example of a turnkey project that the Aftercare Service Department undertook focused on the complete re-fit of a Palfinger PKM700T pipe handler crane for a major service provider to the oil and gas industry. As the downturn has affected most companies, this particular customer was in dire need of a new crane but didn’t have the multi-million pound budget to do this. Alternatively, Outreach’s Service Department promised to get the PKM700T to “as good as new” condition for a smidgeon of the price of a new one. The pipe handler was delivered in multiple sections to Outreach’s Falkirk facility, which is based in the Central belt of Scotland. The initial phase looked at conducting a detailed examination of each component part, to assess condition and viability for re-conditioning versus replacement. This detailed assessment allowed a parts bill of materials (B.O.M) to be achieved along with a detailed programme to control the refit, that aligned with a schedule to re-instate the crane back onto the oil platform.

The pipe handler crane arrived at Outreach Ltd, in a poor condition after operating in some very arduous conditions after a 20 year service time span. Multiple systems were found to be malfunctioning, which highlighted wear and leakage, in numerous areas due to extensive use over this time period. Whilst structurally found to be sound, the crane’s hydraulic cylinders revealed that a complete overhaul of the internal seals and components were required. However a significant saving in component costs was achieved by refurbishment as opposed to total replacement. General items such as hydraulic hoses; which encompassed HP and LP lines including pilot control hoses, were all replaced in line with providing a hose register for major plant. Pivot pins and bushes were also replaced after careful measurement and assessment.

The pipe handler’s hydraulic power systems, pumps and motor drives, including control components, were assessed accordingly, which saw a combination of refurbishment and replacement of components which in turn allowed the system to be overhauled to a status of “as good as new condition”. As well as all of this, the crane’s operator cab was in need of updating in line with good practice, to provide a facility for an operator to be more comfortable during prolonged crane operations, whilst providing greater safety aspects in relation to increased visibility in all lines of sight.

The cab was upgraded to a new Scan Cab, to provide a superior system to the old one in every way, in terms of functionality as well as providing comfort, up to date style ergonomics and enhanced safety features. Particular attention was given to the main crane structure and boom assembly of the PKM700T, with a complete shot blast and material assessment, to check that material thicknesses were still found to be in accordance with original OEM specifications. In addition to this, a comprehensive NDE examination was conducted, which focused on critical load path areas, as well as weld analysis. Once all analysis and remedial works were carried out, each component was re-painted to the original marine standard, with paint coats built up to the correct thickness to provide protection to a standard that is able to withstand the extreme weather conditions, which often affect steel structures in an offshore environment. The pipe grab attachment, which is an Outreach designed product, was also re-fitted and returned to an “as new” condition.

Once all crane components had been painstakingly refurbished or renewed, the crane was fully re-assembled and built from the pedestal up, onto Outreach’s bespoke test stand. The now fully re-fitted pipe handler crane, was now ready to undergo a series of pre- factory acceptance trials (F.A.T). The series of pre-trials allowed for crucial settings to be introduced to optimise crane performance, and ensure that speed and functionality met OEM standards. Once pre-trials were successfully completed, the crane was load tested and commissioned in accordance with a bespoke (F.A.T) commissioning document, approved for the task. The (F.A.T) trials were witnessed by both the Outreach client and the end user client, as a joined up approach to working in partnership. The crane passed its Factory Acceptance Trial (F.A.T) and final NDE examination post-test. A full documentation pack was compiled to update the technical pack with the inclusion of important history and certificates of conformity.

On Completion, the pipe handler crane was disassembled and mobilised offshore in a series of modules, which allowed a simple but effective re-build on the platform. The Outreach Aftercare service team, mobilised to the platform to provide the final stage support of the project to be completed, which allowed the crane to be set to work on-board, load tested and re-enter service successfully.

It is projects like this that can keep SME’s afloat when the market changes out with their control. By reacting quickly to the changes and adapting their strategy, Outreach Ltd have proven that success and profitability is still possible in light on an unforeseen downturn. They have also shown that companies who have been affected by the downturn can still optimise their work without spending their reduced budgets on brand new equipment, and this solution can be equally as effective.

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