Most repair and maintenance jobs in industry have to be carried out against the clock. Unplanned downtime is a cost, and planned downtime a rarity.
But in one subsea manufacturing plant, it’s not just a rarity. It’s completely non-existent.
The facility produces the underwater umbilicals used for transporting gas and oil pumped from offshore rigs back to dry land. Serving customers are far apart as the North Sea and Brazil, the company has a full order book and manufactures around the clock to meet demand. So when the gearbox on their coiling machine began to have problems, the company called in ERIKS Drives Technology Centre Team and outlined the problem:
- A failing gearbox
- No opportunity for a planned shutdown
- A 6-8 week lead time for replacement gears from the original equipment manufacturer.
Remove, repair, replace
ERIKS can make most things, except time. However, by applying extensive resources and engineering know-how, the most realistic solution was arrived at to meet the customer’s needs.
A shutdown was inevitable. The aim was to make it as short as possible – and 6-8 weeks was simply not acceptable. The solution was for ERIKS to manufacture the replacement gears in-house, which would take no more than three weeks.
To save even more time, the customer also opted for ERIKS to manufacture the required:
- Sealing rings
- Cover plates and
- Housing assemblies
Only the high-precision bearings had to be sourced separately from an overseas supplier.
But first, production of the umbilicals had to be halted, and the machine shut down, removed from site and transported to the ERIKS workshop in Dudley.
Engineering, bed and breakfast
The need for the fastest possible turn-round of the overhaul meant that while the customer’s manufacturing facility was out of operation, ERIKS engineers worked almost non-stop. Some of those involved in the project would finish work at 3am only to be back in action again at 7am – for two whole weeks.
Meanwhile, the Machine Shop Asset Leader for for the customer – virtually lived with the ERIKS team for the whole period.
As he wrote later in an email to the team: “May I take this opportunity to thank Simon Whitehouse and Scott Robinson and the rest of the team… for making me feel welcome and right at home working out of their office. The professionalism, support and dedication in getting the job done in such a challenging time frame was undoubtedly first class.”
Manufacturing, troubleshooting, firefighting
With other companies involved in the project, it was inevitable that there would be hitches, glitches and hold-ups along the way.
As the project lead, ERIKS took responsibility for overcoming any difficulties, resolving issues as they arose, and generally keeping the project on track. Or as the customer put it, they “tirelessly worked with integrity when faced with numerous setbacks and hurdles. They consistently had a prepared solution to resolve issues, alleviating an already stressful situation.”
After a total of three weeks of full-on working, ERIKS assembled the overhauled machine, ran it on a test rig, proved its operational suitability, shipped it back to its site and re-installed it. Now the customer could begin to start work on the backlog of £100,000s worth of orders.