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Fast delivery times and quality products drive drill bit maker's success.
Security DBS NV produces diamond drill bits for the oil and gas industry and is one of the market leaders. The company is part of the Security Drill Bits division of Halliburton Energy Services Group. (With more than 90,000 employees, Halliburton is one of the largest service companies in the oil and gas industry.) In addition to diamond drill bits and coring bits, Security DBS NV designs and produces equipment for clearing drill holes. The company also produces roller cone drill bits at its Houston, Texas headquarters. Security DBS employs 700 personnel worldwide.
Exploration for oil and gas is a highly specialized activity, under constant pressure for success. Fast drilling and efficient evaluation are essential in this market. The industry differentiates between roller cone bits and fixed cutter bits. A roller cone bit is an assembly of three cones that work together to crush the rock formation. A fixed cutter bit has no moving parts and is often used to take samples for evaluating water, oil and gas or to establish permeability, porosity and other physical properties. “The choice of a fixed cutter or a rolling cone bit is determined by the properties of the geology,” explains Nuno da Silva, design manager at Security DBS. “The design of diamond drill bits is always customer-specific and we have to act fast on the specifications the customer provides,” adds Ides De Vos, a business unit manager at the company. “This is why we invest heavily in ways to shrink cycle time between the intake of the order and the delivery of the product.”
Cycle time is primarily determined by the tasks of creating the design and generating the machining instructions. The company uses NX software for both activities. One reason NX was chosen was because headquarters already had an excellent relationship with Siemens. “Added to that was the powerful CAM functionality, which is completely integrated with the CAD software,” says De Vos. “Also, NX makes data exchange easy by means of the industry standard, Parasolid® software.”
Eric Lauret and his colleagues at Security DBS used the open automation programming tools in NX to build custom applications that streamline the production of drill bits. Lauret explains: “Our goal was to provide engineers with a system in which they simply supply the technical specifications.” For example, the hardness of the rock formations, the necessary rate of penetration and the lifecycle are a few of the factors that determine the shape of the drill bit, the number of combs and the number of cutters per comb. “We captured the knowledge that product development generates and made it available in NX,” Lauret continues. “NX then uses this knowledge to automatically generate the design of the drill bit and the production drawings.”
Security DBS has two production techniques for fixed cutter drill bits. The first, used for tungsten carbide alloy drill bits, is a casting process using a graphite mold. The second technique produces bits by milling a hardened steel alloy.
“In the first case, we are capable of automating the entire CAM programming process,” says Olivier Lefèvre, IT manager at Security DBS. The mold of the drill bit is an assembly of different parts. The custom routines developed by Lauret and his colleagues automatically derive the necessary mold components from the design, automating the CAM process. “We were able to reduce the throughput time from ten days to one and a half days at the most,” Lefèvre says. “This is the time we need to evaluate the variation in parameters for optimizing drilling performance. In this time frame, all CAM programming and generation of production drawings are included.”
This level of automation is not possible in the case of the steel body drill bits, which are manufactured from bar stock and have more variation in shape and size than the tungsten carbide drill bits. Here the design has been automated, but not the CAM programming. “Steel body drill bits often have negative faces and angles, making automation too complex,” explains Mariano Talamini, production manager. “The CAM programming for the five-axis milling machine is done by a manufacturing engineer and thoroughly simulated in NX before actual production.” The diamonds used are synthetic and are purchased as standard parts in the form of so-called PDCs (polycrystalline diamond compacts). These standard parts are available in both NX and an ERP system and fixed onto the drill bits by a brazing technique.
Data management is organized in SAP, the company’s ERP system. Documents generated when processing an order are added to the system, with the exception of CAD and CNC data. “References link to the correct data sets in a secure directory structure,” says Lefèvre. “This means that production personnel can see from the parts list the exact information necessary for the job.”
The average drill bit costs around 30,000 euros and lasts for 600 to 1,000 meters – “not a very large sum in an exploration project,” explains De Vos. “Our customers are primarily interested in delivery times and quality.”
“That is exactly the reason we invested in Siemens’ NX software,” De Vos adds. “Security DBS is not only able to work faster, but also has the ability to improve processes and increase quality by making knowledge available to the organization. Add to that the increased possibilities to manufacture products that could not have been made without NX.”
“Siemens helped us change our line of thinking to more customer-focused design and manufacturing,” summarizes De Vos. “We started thinking in processes instead of products, and that has given us a clear advantage over our competition.”
Keys To Success:
Client's Primary Business:
Security DBS NV produces roller cone and fixed cutter rock bits, coring equipment and services and downhole tools.
"Security DBS is not only able to work faster, but also has the ability to improve processes and increase quality by making knowledge available to the organization. Siemens PLM Software helped us change our line of thinking to more customer-focused design and manufacturing, and that has given us a clear advantage over our competition."
Ides De Vos
Business Unit Manager
Security DBS NV
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