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ruled the mobile well service rig business. Tat’s only because what’s going on inside the corrugated industrial building is all business, with very little wasted space leſt over. And that’s just the way KSM vice president Brian Beckett likes it. Beckett is a friendly bear of a man, who in his hardhat and


coveralls could have walked off an oilfield and right into the lobby to greet us. A quick stop in his office to pull on the safety equipment required for our plant tour revealed that Beckett’s a street rod builder; his office’s walls are covered by photographs of the many cars he’s built, some literally from the ground up. “Been doing it since I was a kid,” he told us proudly. His explanation was the perfect segue to the tour he’ll


lead for the next few hours, because what he and his team of engineers and tradesmen are doing here is pretty much what Beckett’s been doing most of his life: Building a vehicle from the ground up. Tese vehicles just happen to carry derricks that will telescope up to 120' (36.5-m) high over an oil well.


Insourcing Well service rigs, also known as workover rigs, are used by


drilling and well service contractors to service an existing well with the goal of optimizing oil and/or gas production. Service rigs can be skid- or trailer-mounted, but mobile rigs are more popular due to their inherent advantages of easy portability and self-contained maneuverability on drilling sites. I asked my host if combining two giant pieces of mechanical equip- ment—a six-axle flatbed truck and a telescoping derrick that you might easily mistake for a replica of the Eiffel Tower—re- sult in compromises in the performance of both? Beckett laughed. “Te ‘mobile’ part of the rigs we build is


actually pretty static,” he said, “in part because of the perfor- mance and reliability of the MTU Series 60 engine. It has plen- ty of power to move the vehicle safely—and believe it or not, quietly—down any highway, as well as power the telescoping derrick, the drilling draw works and any other accessories.” Pointing toward a draw works assembly that, like almost


every key component of a KSM rig, is manufactured right here, he added, “and we’re known for producing the best rig in the business, customized to our customers’ individual specifications.” Tis vertically-integrated manufacturing philosophy


that enables KSM to tailor each rig to its customers’ unique requirements is a theme I heard throughout Beckett’s tour, and it’s not just a sales pitch. It’s one of the reasons behind KSM’s continuing success, according to Dan Bryson, vice president of Treeline Well Services Inc. (Calgary, AB). “KSM,” Bryson said, “works very closely with us in customizing the rig to give us features to help us improve efficiencies. An example is their rigs’ raised driller’s platform. KSM offers us a great deal of flexibility in designing our rigs.” Gesturing toward a telescoping derrick in production on KSM’s relatively small 28,000-ſt2


(2600-m2 ) factory floor, I


Mobile service rig sits outside the shop in order to have its cabling installed. The rigs measure 46' 8" (14.2 m) long.


asked Beckett where he buys the utility pole-sized hydraulic cylinder that elevates the derrick. “We don’t outsource it. We make it here, including the 42' [12.8-m] long steel piston,” he answered. KSM’s assembly process can produce a complete new rig or refurbish a worn rig every 30 days or less, depend- ing on the scope of the overhaul required. Delivering that kind of turnaround to customers who value equipment uptime over all else requires this kind of focused manufacturing and design engineering processes, backed by KSM’s extensive spare parts inventory.


Sky-High Hopes A few minutes later, Beckett told me that my timing was


good, because a brand new rig was about to roll out of the shop. Although the thought of venturing back out into the subzero temperatures and still-falling snow wasn’t terribly appealing, the chance to see a KSM 550—the company’s most popular model—in its natural setting was too much to resist. Te view outside was surreal. Swarmed by KSM techni-


cians in hardhats was a gleaming red and white service rig, its outriggers fully extended and firmly planted on the ground. Slowly, steadily, with the steady hum of the MTU diesel as a soundtrack, the derrick effortlessly rose to its full 105' (32-m) length straight into the sky. I’m looking at a real-life version or a kid’s Transformer toy: A truck that magically morphs into a drilling rig. Silhouetted against the swirling snow, it’s easy to imagine this amazing machine perched over one of Alberta’s 200,000 wells, extracting the resources that will help power Canada’s burgeoning economic prosperity.


This article is adapted from an article that appeared in the April 2014 issue of MTU Report, a publication of MTU America Inc.


Energy Manufacturing 2014 51


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