Company Invests In HMC To Keep Pace With Growth

Since its installation, this HMC has dramatically reduced floor-to-floor times on the manufacture of precision reamers, which are used for expanding oil well bore holes during directional drilling operations.

With a growth potential of $14.5 million for its oilfield equipment over the next few years, Darron Oil Tools (Rotherham, England), part of the Austria-based Schoeller Bleckman AG Group, recently decided to "fast-track" reamer production with the installation of a new horizontal machining center (HMC). The reason the company decided to purchase a new HMC, says Steve Rhodes, sales and operations planning manager, was because "a large proportion of our roller reamer production was sub-contracted out. We had limited machining capacity to handle such large items, and, when we did employ our own machines, they were ‘tied-up' for long periods machining-out the complex detail of the pockets."

The company decided upon a 10-meter PowerCentre horizontal machining center from Wolverhampton, England-based manufacturer AB Marwin Production Systems. The PowerCentre was specified because of the impressive performance of an 8-meter AsquithButler (now part of AB Marwin) machining center purchased by Darron Oil Tools 5 years before. Additionally, a favorable response was received from both the parent group and customers alike.

Since its installation, the PowerCentre has dramatically reduced floor-to-floor times on the manufacture of precision reamers, which are used for expanding oil well bore holes during directional drilling operations. The reamers, made from high carbon steel, vary in size from 705 mm (28 inches) in diameter down to 308 mm (12.25 inches) and can be up to 3,048 mm (10 feet) in length. The reamers are manufactured from large cylindrical forgings that are machined to size then bored and counter-bored. Three rectangular, high precision ‘pockets' are then machined equally spaced to accept cutter assemblies. Up to half a ton of material is removed during the machining process. Then the pockets are hand finished, a task that used to take up to 2 hours; however, the accuracy and surface finish qualities of the PowerCentre have reduced this process to a mere 10 minutes.

"Through the PowerCentre's . . . metal removal abilities, accuracies and agility to machine a complete reamer in one setup, not only have we been able to bring reamer production totally in-house, but have virtually halved floor-to-floor times," Mr. Rhodes says.

Production manager Steve Harris concludes, "The confidence shown in Darron Oil Tools by our parent group Schoeller Bleckman has led to considerable investment and a streamlining of our operation of which the PowerCentre is part. This investment is certainly paying off in terms of shorter lead times and a reduction in production costs."

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