What do you do when a once dominate product line seems to be slipping in the marketplace? You go to the drawing board! But first, you visit the customers and ask lots of questions. As new products are developed, older ones become less efficient and less cost effective sometimes becoming obsolete. The difference here is that Rick Barnett (Director of Product Development) and Edgar Keijser (International Sales Representative, France) sat down with various customers in France, Italy and Houston to ask a lot of questions about what they needed for their particular operation. Most of those answers pointed back to simple to operate, easy to install and cost effective.
Engineering took that information and designed a new product that leveraged against existing technology that was field proven. This saved time and money in the development process, testing and maintained the usefulness of existing service tools thereby eliminating the need to redesign and remanufacture similar items. In addition, the currently designed vertical connector will be utilized in the horizontal application product line. Can you see where this is going now? Do you think the customers ears might start to perk up when you talk about the savings…and this is just the start.
While much of this may seem like common sense, the next portion of the process is not your typical design path. During the creation of an animation to visually show the customer how things worked underwater, it was routinely asked “why do we do it that way?” It’s easy to tell someone how to get from point A to point B, however actually walking through each step adds a whole new meaning. It also becomes very apparent how much inefficiency is in the process. By following the steps of the ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) in the animation, the design team was able to make several changes to connector that simplified its operation. These changes saved several hours of operating time per connection by the ROV, the service vessel and all related crew required. When the customer sees the efficiencies over an entire field worth of jumpers to be installed, it is a much more pronounced savings.
While industry downturns are never a pleasant thing, how we make use of that time can have a huge impact on the future. By designing and testing the new connector line now, Oil States Houston is in a position to move forward today instead of 6-12 months later. That will have a big impact when the industry upswing starts to gain momentum.