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Mar 4, 2011

Wood Group Uses SolidWorks to Pack Durability and Performance into Slender, Submersible Pumps

Company’s Highly Customized Equipment Designed to Resist Heat and Pressure, Preventing $250,000-Per-Day Breakdowns.

CONCORD, Mass – There is no room for error when designing a pump to pull oil out of a one mile-deep hole while resisting breakdowns from heat, pressure, friction, and corrosion. Breakdowns mean up to $250,000 per day in expenses and lost revenue for pump operators. Wood Group ESP turned to SolidWorks® 3D CAD and simulation software to design and test its pumps for top performance and durability while meeting tight production schedules.

Oklahoma City-based Wood Group ESP manufactures electric submersible pumps (ESPs) and surface pumps for the petroleum and chemical industries. Wood Group units can pump anywhere from 90 to 95,000 barrels of oil, water or chemicals per day. A typical pump packs more than 300 parts into a form factor up to 40 feet long but only five inches in diameter.

Wood Group ESP customizes every order that comes in, and the company’s 45-person engineering team usually has as little as five days to get new designs into production. SolidWorks CAD, simulation, and product data management software help the company conceptualize and produce new designs quickly, according to Bobby Taylor, manager, engineering services at Wood Group ESP.

“The bottom line is that without SolidWorks software, we couldn’t make money. We can’t do our job without it,” he said. “We have more than 60,000 part numbers, so being able to pull models of various parts together and build an assembly helps us get the job done quick and accurately. There’s no time for mistakes.”

Wood Group’s engineers use SolidWorks solutions from the earliest conception of a design through simulation and production. SolidWorks CAD software enables the company’s engineering team to quickly design pumps to suit customers’ specific needs.

“In our business, engineering to order is critical,” Taylor said. “Every pump configuration is a little different, so when an order comes in, we’re using SolidWorks to create assembly drawings on the fly so we can get them to the shop floor for quick production. We’re including every aspect of the design in the layouts – there’s nothing we leave out. We’re basically building virtual pumps in the software. That way when the production crew goes to build them, the design is right on.”

Durability and reliability are Wood Group ESP’s biggest engineering challenges, Taylor said. Wells are highly corrosive environments filled with fluids that attack component surfaces as soon as the pump goes in. The pumps also “eat themselves away” by creating vibrations that can also cause failures. As the design staff assembles components, research and development engineers run mechanical and hydraulic analyses with SolidWorks Simulation software to ensure they will perform as expected. The simulations also help designers show customers and potential customers what Wood Group ESP is proposing to them.

If a pump fails at a customer site, the short time frame shrinks even more, Taylor said. “The customer wants the equipment back in the well because they aren’t making any money if they aren’t pumping. We pull the pump out of the well, tear it down, and see what needs to be replaced. If it can’t be repaired, we have to build them a new one. SolidWorks software is key to doing that quickly to keep the customer’s losses to a minimum. Having all the components as 3D models in SolidWorks helps us create a new pump quickly because we can modify existing models instead of starting from scratch.”

Wood Group ESP works with SolidWorks authorized reseller MLC-CAD for training and support.