Making a business as cost effective as possible without sacrificing integrity, excellence, product value and the standard of the business is one of the most highly sort after practices in today’s industries. With the growing demand for renewable energy, capital intensive industries such as gas and oil have to find ways to keep prices low to continue to attract consumers while maintaining high standards for their products without sacrificing value.
While many other industries have increasingly started to use technology, the oil and gas industries lag in this area and continue to use traditional cost saving measures such as layoffs and facility shutdowns to remain afloat.
As the demand for oil declines, oil companies find themselves in a mire of maintaining an end product of extremely high quality to remain safe for consumers while ensuring the costs of processing the oil doesn’t outweigh the profits garnered from the sales. Most oil and gas companies have began adopting technologies such as additive manufacturing also known as 3D printing.
In order to help cut costs and get ahead of the issue, oil and gas companies like GE Oil and Gas are taking a proactive approach with the running of their businesses through the introduction of digitalization technologies. Using digitalization technologies assess the performance of its assets by tracking data changes which enable the company to plan ahead for its maintenance and running of the oil and gas equipment.
Introducing 3D printing and robotics to the oil and gas industries helps the companies reduce running costs as well as logistical obstacles in its supply chain.
3D printing for oil and gas equipment manufacturing ensures equipment is manufactured with high accuracy and precision with regards to intricate designs. This reduces the manufacturing cycle time which increases the costs of rig operation. Not having a precise operation to create manufacturing equipment could result in a few inches in deviation that could lead to days of delay and loss of service. Also the equipment is often made from heavy metals that take around six to eight weeks to deliver to the plant, a process that takes a further two to four weeks to the construction time. The equipment’s heavy metals result in high costs.
The employment of 3D printers allows gas and oil companies to produce end burners for the turbines and compressors. This process which is used by GE Oil and Gas, allows the company to capitalize on becoming proactive and not reactive, by reaping the benefits of digitalization and also produce the most precise equipment using 3D printing that follows precise design specifications and reduce costly errors for the company.
The use of 3D printing has also seen the increase in efficiency and cost-effective products for the plant. GE has also introduced anthropomorphic robotic arms that work in the production of nozzles that are used by the gas turbines. This technological investment has cost GE $11.2million USD and is on track to save the company millions while increasing efficiency.
GE has also employed 3D printing technology in aviation and healthcare business, which it used as a template for its oil and gas equipment manufacturing. In order to cut costs in this capital intensive industry, streamlining the process of manufacturing and increasing the precision of manufactured equipment helps improve the running of plants and cut costs which helps the oil and gas company meet its goals.
3D printing has helped shorten the production cycle and uses less inventory which increases the capital gains of the company.The use of 3D printing has proved to be effective and also reduces pollution.