When it comes to calibration: think speed and expertise

When it comes to calibration: think speed and expertise

Posted: April 2, 2020

Elton Willemse, Account Manager, Testing & Calibration Solutions, within Proserv’s Aberdeen based team, says the firm remains on-hand with its UKAS accredited laboratory and its convenient asset management system in the present challenging times

It is fair to say that the oil and gas industry is undergoing a particularly demanding time at present. The on-going global health concern, coupled with the sudden price decline, has undoubtedly meant many operators and drilling contractors are re-appraising future approaches and strategies.

But as and when the market becomes more buoyant and international trade and movement pick up once more in the coming months, that would mark the critical time to begin initiating clear change and improvement to business processes and planning – especially when margins are expected to be so tight.

Looking forwards, it seems certain that the policy of cautious investment and very modest oil prices seems set to continue. This means firms can make vital modifications to what they do, and how they do it, leading to tangible gains.

Switched-on decision-makers and investment managers have already attuned to a methodology of advancing their reliability and efficiencies, while maximising returns and extending the utility of their assets.

Find the right vendor

One key way that they can achieve their goal of enhanced production and operational procedures is to find and collaborate with a regular service vendor.

For us in Proserv’s Aberdeen based Instrumentation & Calibration team, we have seen an increasing number of clients seek out our specific array of services as they recognise the role we can potentially play in augmenting smooth, safe and consistent production.

For instance, much of our calibration services work is concentrated on those operating locally offshore in the North Sea. Ensuring master instrumentation is checked regularly is crucial to guaranteeing that any testing undertaken by it remains secure and subsequent readings do not drift.

A client might have a test cell within its workshop and so obtaining national traceable certification, through regular calibration checks, provides reassurance and demonstrates that best industry standards are always being met.

We are one of only a few calibration service providers in our region that can actually offer a United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) purpose-built laboratory providing a variety of services, covering a range of electrical and pressure instruments.

We have the capability to provide UKAS accredited calibration services for pressure related equipment from vacuum up to and including 60,000 psi, while for torque measurement kit, we can test from 10Nm up to 1000Nm.

Seeking out the specialists could make the difference.

After all, if components crucial to a live production system, such as pressure relief valves, fail due to inaccurate pressure readings from faulty metrological equipment on a platform out at sea, then the consequential downtime could rapidly add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost output, as diagnosis of the problem is conducted and replacement parts are sought.

In the present economic landscape, unscheduled downtime really hurts operators and drillers alike, and so experiencing unnecessary disruption directly due to trusting the readings of poorly calibrated equipment really must be avoided.

It makes little sense to improve the scrutiny of so many processes across an asset, yet neglect something that could be maintained so simply and affordably.

Fast service, safe practices

We have seen that our customers value the flexibility and speed afforded by having a service vendor so close at hand. If clients have testing facilities or a laboratory on site, we can maximise our proximity by rolling out our mobile lab service van fleet, here in Aberdeen, and carry out calibration work on their premises – enabling fast and direct support.

Our highly experienced team is very well-equipped, whether at a client’s facility or at our home site, to handle the current stringent and vital requirements regarding health and safety protocols, as we all work together and take responsibility for overcoming the issues posed by the Covid-19 virus.

One of our core values at Proserv is doing the ‘right thing, the right way’ and now that is even more important than usual.

Likewise, we therefore have the ability and know-how to rapidly dispatch technicians and engineers offshore to a North Sea platform either to calibrate key equipment such as critical gauges or to sort out unexpected problems or failures.

Some of our customers have mechanisms in place that are triggered when instrumentation needs to be calibrated, enabling them to maintain required standards and keep up to date with their certification.

But via our own online portal, we can simultaneously carry out the necessary tests and also manage their calibration needs using our easy-to-use colour-coded system, which indicates equipment wanting imminent attention. This offers convenience and continued peace of mind.

The last thing one of our customers needs is to discover, due to a problem with a piece of inaccurate equipment that has not been calibrated recently, hundreds of tests carried out on products worth tens of millions of dollars need to be voided. This represents a major time-consuming expense and inconvenience.

Current challenges, future benefits

So, as the industry understandably takes a step or two back to deal with price slowdowns and global health challenges, operators and drilling contractors could look at their service support needs and fine-tune their approach, alert to possible future advantages and cost-efficiencies.

Our aim at Proserv is to harness our offering and expertise to become the incumbent vendor of choice for our clients. That way there are obvious mutual benefits for both parties.

By building up a service partnership, we can develop an intimate knowledge of a client’s equipment. When you know what connection types and hoses a client uses, then it is so much easier to set up an appropriate test spread.

Being an incumbent vendor also speeds up service support. If a regular customer suffers a failure on a piece of equipment, we can proactively hold stock of replacement parts and can then respond rapidly to get that component to the site as soon as possible.

At a time when margins are likely to be increasingly tight, seeking out an expert, local service partner, with the capability of deploying an effective asset management system to make sure all master instrumentation is regularly calibrated, would represent a smart strategic move, ahead of when the industry can hopefully get back towards normality.

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