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We’ve done it this way. Why change?

By Kevin Kolmetz, Moog, Product Manager, LinkedIn, and Richard Kim, Moog, Engineering Manager, LinkedIn

In the some parts of the oil and gas industry, you may hear people say, “We’ve done things a certain way. It works. Why change what works?” While an organization might have always used, for example, a hydraulic solution for a topside drilling application, we would like to challenge them to look at improving on what works, perhaps by using an electro-mechanical solution for their application. Our solution approach is to “connect” with you or your director of technology and talk about what’s best for your motion control situation.

Let me take an additional example from the automotive test industry. We have developed a tire-coupled simulation system with actuators that move following a prescribed drive file that replicates the motion from a real world road test.  We’re moving each of the car’s wheels at an almost frenetic frequency. Typically a lot of people believe electric actuation is always faster than hydraulic actuation in that situation. But in hydraulics, you actually have more stored energy. With electric actuation, you have a motor that has to spool up – that takes time. In this case then hydraulics can actually be faster.

Moog became involved in this webinar because designing reliability and performance into your motion control applications matters. Speed, force, reliability and even profits hinge on motion control. You want to select the correct technology. We know that a lot is, literally, riding on your choice.

Here’s a three-step process we use to help people make their design choices.

First, we look at the architecture underpinning your application. When you think about older components as part of an architecture they tend to be run off a centralized control scheme. Newer, smart components have smart controls. For instance, you could have a master controller in a control room on an oil platform going out to every component which also each have a feedback device. And that smart component will tell you that you need to check something related to, say, one of the components on a pipe racking system. So, architecturally speaking, we dig into whether someone is working with a centralized control system or distributed control system. Knowing this will result in the best motion control solution.

Second, we examine device-level form factor. Simply put, that means we look at what a specific component does and its working environment. We look at the physical conditions and needs of what’s going on with your application. Your topside application need may be right over the wellhead which can give you a lot of room for a solution that requires a really rapid response time. Device-level form factor can also examine energy density. For example, you may need to move a valve that needs 30,000 pounds of force for a cutter assembly that’s part of a blow-out preventer. All these situations need to be considered for the best motion control solution.

And, third, we study device-level dynamics. In other words, how rapidly does your application move? Is it moving 18 times every tenth of a second? Alternatively, some devices move very slowly and some are needed for secondary and tertiary processes. Regardless of how quickly or slowly it moves, we design devices that control things at the component level that then fit into the entire motion solution.

Every application has some unique aspects to it. We’ve seen almost everything.  We have even come up against some customers who takes their “white space” and make a design more complicated than it needs to be. For instance one customer was trying to design a huge, precision winch to control a block and tackle for moving a drill pipe up and down requiring 3,000 hp. The customer designed a complex array of cables and pulleys as that kind of hardware was what they knew. We certainly listened. But ultimately gave them a solution with a much lower potential for problems.

We’ll discuss this in more detail in the webinar on the 16th October. In the meantime, what’s your design process? What works for you? What might be worth changing?

See you at the webinar! – ‘Hydralic or Electric? Engineering the Best Control Solution’

Kevin Kolmetz, Product Manager, Topside Oil & Gas, Moog


Kevin Kolmetz started at Moog in 2011. Kevin has spent 11 years supporting electro-hydraulic and pneumatic actuation needs of customers in the aerospace, defence and industrial markets. He has completed degrees in Mechanical Engineering and New Product Development from Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY USA


What will the audience learn from attending the webinar?

As a company, we balance our technology solutions between hydraulic and electric. The audience will hear from an unbiased source about the pros and cons of both types of technologies across multiple applications. You never know what will ultimately meet the customer’s challenge. For example, we helped to engineer the roof over Wimbledon’s center court. Originally that was to be a hydraulic solution. Hydraulic fluid dripping on grass is a bad thing; we ultimately developed an electric solution because we had the know-how to do so.

How did you get into the industry and what do you most enjoy about your role?

I had a background in fluid power for the aerospace and industrial markets. I started working with small companies making valves for the aerospace and defense industries. I know how engineering works, but I’m also able to talk easily with customers. I enjoy interacting with and relating to people. I like figuring out who on our engineering team to line up with each customer. And I have a passion for fact-finding and understanding a customer’s business case.

What would someone be surprised to know about you?

I’m the stereotypical engineer, so there’s not much if anything to surprise anyone. When I’m not at work, I enjoy hunting or fishing.

Who or what is your inspiration?

I’m inspired by intelligent people much older than me. As a youngster, I worked for a gentlemen who had emigrated from Europe. He was a highly educated man, and he employed me to work construction learning various trades.

You can register now for Moog’s webinar ‘Hydraulic or Electric? Engineering the Best Control Solution’ taking place on the 16th October at 10am New York/3pm London.