The Offshore Europe 2011 exhibition is a biennial event that, in 2009, attracted a daily attendance of 45,565 from a total of 94 countries. With 73% of these indicating they attended to "see what's new", the 2011 event will draw a large contingent from the manufacturing technologies arena.
Among machine tool suppliers present will be WFL Millturn Technologies (represented in the UK by Kyal Machine Tools 01780 765965). The company will be hoping to attract new customers similar to Novomet, a Russian producer of submersible pumps for the oil industry, which has recently acquired no less than five WFL M-series multi-function machines.
Image: WFL machines are much used in the energy sector parts manufacturing industry
The WFL machines help Novomet produce around 500 complete submersible pump units per month, machining components in a single hit, even those featuring complex contours or inclined bores and threads. In some instances, cycle times have been cut from 16 hours to just 58 minutes. Goratu UK (0845 612 1484) will be promoting its full range of milling and turning technologies, including the recently introduced GT5 lathe. The predecessor of this new 1,100 by 4000 mm heavy duty flat bed CNC lathe was the GHT 5, which was one of Goratu's best selling models. The new model is bigger, stronger, faster and more efficient.
One of the largest overheads for many offshore sector customers is labour cost, and sawing operations are no different, or so says Prosaw (01536 410999), which will be championing the virtues of its automated sawing centre at the show.
Another contingent of exhibitors well represented at the event will be subcontract suppliers, such as Craftsman Tools (01943 466788), which says it will use its first major exhibition appearance of the year to promote its subcontract machining expertise, as well as take the opportunity to track down any potential new suppliers.
Specialist subcontractor MTL Group (0114 261 7979) says it handles multi-million pound contracts for customers that manufacture large foundation structures for the offshore and renewable energy sectors. In fact, the company has just secured a contract to supply 97 boat landing systems to a leading European foundations manufacturer for a German offshore wind farm, located in the North Sea. The contract, which is MTL Group's largest export contract to date, will call upon the company's large format high definition plasma and laser cutting, robotic tube cutting, automated robot welding and CNC machining.
The very nature of oil and gas exploration necessitates extensive use of deep-hole boring and honing technology. With this in mind, Hone-All Precision (0845 5555 111) will be promoting the recent upgrading and refurbishment of four deep-hole boring machines, along with the fact that it has also invested more than £200,000 upgrading its honing capability.
The first of the two latest acquisitions to join an existing Sunnen GV3 series vertical honing machine is a 2 m-stroke HTB-2000S PLC horizontal tube honing machine, initially supplied on a loan basis. While waiting on delivery of a new custom-built hone, Hone-All's plan was to avoid a potential bottleneck resulting from the significant increase in its deep-hole boring capability. However, it proved to be a classic case of "we liked the machine so much, we bought it". The new machine, which was installed in June, is a 3 m-stroke HTC-3000W CNC horizontal tube hone that offers set-up times of less than 2 minutes.
Image: Hone-All has invested more than £200,000 in upgrading its honing capability.
But Hone-All is not the only exhibitor in this field to demonstrate recent investment. TBT UK (01675 433250) last year installed a new 4 m horizontal tube honing machine from Nagel – the first of its type in the UK. Such is the current order book at TBT that the company has recently extended its opening hours to 20:00 on Thursdays and Fridays.
With modern manufacturing reliant so heavily on digital technology platforms, the latest software innovations will feature heavily at Offshore Europe. A case in point will be seen on the stand of Open Mind Technologies (01869 290003), where visitors can see the hyperMill 2011 CAM solution and CAD-integrated solutions for various mainstream packages.
Another software vendor at the show, CGTech (01273 773538), will demonstrate the latest enhancements to its Vericut machining simulation, verification and optimisation software.
Certain technologies have a unique role to play in the offshore sector and among these is lubrication – after all, according to Fuchs Lubricants (01782 203700), it can cost approximately $1-1.5 million per day in downtime and lost production, if a platform ceases operations. As well as providing specialist lubricants such as greases, turbine oils and hydraulic oils, Fuchs provides a complete support package for the offshore industry. Here, Fuchs is able to perform offshore surveys, providing clients with detailed reports on the machinery and lubricants on the rig. The company also offers the CENT condition monitoring service, a carefully designed programme that indicates the condition of fluid and equipment by monitoring wear trends, additive levels and sources of contamination.
Similarly, ExxonMobil North Sea (01224 855000) will use Offshore Europe to champion its newly launched synthetic SHC gear lubricants for operation in extreme conditions.
Metrology, inspection and testing technologies will also feature, with suppliers such as portable CMM specialist Faro Technologies (0800 3276 7253) showing new innovations such as the Faro Edge and Laser Line Probe, which it claims is the most advanced FaroArm system ever produced.
From a testing perspective, SKF (01296 660080) will demonstrate its Microlog condition monitoring family of portable vibration monitoring and data collection instruments (with the launch of new products and measurement modules). These offer engineers a complete range of tools for measuring and analysing vibration on all types of machinery.
Other testing innovations on show will include the i3 thermal imaging unit from Flir Systems (01732 220011) for inspecting or monitoring the health of electrical and mechanical systems, and a new range of products for testing hydraulic torque wrenches up to 80,000 Nm from Norbar Torque Tools (01295 270333).
For visitors looking to reduce the lead time for the design, purchase and assembly of a complete energy chain system, then head for the stand of Igus (01604 677240) to see the company's innovative ReadyChain. At the same time, take a look at the Igus E4.350, currently the largest plastic energy chain in the world, predominately used for large, heavy, stiff cables, such as those used on oil platforms
Offshore Europe will truly offer something for everyone.
First published in Machinery, July 2011