Working Through Rough Times

The downturn in the oil and gas industry affects most businesses. ClampOn is no exception.

“Right now, we need to keep pushing to get up and get ahead. That is the best medicine,” says ClampOn’s President Dag A. Aldal, who remains forward-looking through the rough times.

Aldal’s medicine has so far led to the development of two new ClampOn products: the ClampOn DSP Crack Monitor, and the ClampOn Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI) Detector. The Crack Monitor detects the energy released when microscopic cracks form in metal due to stress, whereas the CUI Detector detects the presence of water or corroded material under insulation, without having to remove the outer metal sheet or actual insulation on a pipe.


BROADER AUDIENCE

“These two new instruments can be used in conjunction. For instance, when water has been detected in the insulation on a stainless steel pipe, one can remove insulation and initiate AE detection of cracking using the ClampOn DSP Crack Monitor. This will tell us if there is real cracking taking place, or if it is a defect that was present during installation. Crack formation is very hard to detect by other traditional means such as active ultrasound. In many cases, results will show no cracking despite water ingress being detected, but one needs to be sure before insulating again,” says Geir Instanes, ClampOn’s Vice President.

The products were introduced during ONS 2016, where they drew interest from many conference participants. “The ClampOn CUI and ClampOn DSP Crack Monitor are a result of market demand for better information and control of a pipes’ structural health. These products will provide highly useful support for maintenance planning and decision making,” says Instanes.

ons3

Dag A. Aldal demonstrating the Particle monitor at ONS 2016

“By combining all our experience from the field, the lab, and our production line we can come up with great products the market needs. What we do today will provide revenue tomorrow. It’s certainly an uphill slog, but you don’t ever get to the top without some sort of adversity, so it’s full speed ahead on the development of the next generation of technology,” says Aldal.

Another new product is ClampOn’s CAN Monitor software, which recently was released on the LabVIEW Tools Network. The CAN Monitor is a powerful and generic tool which is useful for those who need to test CANopen units. “We are just starting to make this software known to potential customers, and we are looking forward to getting feedback from a broader audience, which in turn can make this product even better,” says Mads Toppe, Head of IT Department at ClampOn.


PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE

ClampOn is a regular at conferences and exhibitions all over the world. Area Sales Manager, Anja Bilsbak, stresses the importance of staying in touch with customers. “Being visible and keeping our customers updated on what we can supply is more important than ever. We still attend the biggest conferences and exhibitions to meet our existing customers and potential new ones.”

Even if the market is slower now than before, ClampOn is still winning contracts for the projects that are being carried out. In Norway, ClampOn provides equipment for the Johan Sverdrup field, among others. The company has also won contracts for projects in Egypt, Australia, and Malaysia. “This keeps our motivation and focus up for when the market stabilises and gets back on track so that more projects can be started up. We are confident the times will turn,” says Bilsbak.

truls-working-on-a-rack_2_web-1

Truls Kultorp working on a rack (Johan Sverdrup project)

Project and Production Department Manager, Per Arne Aadland, stresses the importance of getting the maximum out of a period of fewer deliveries. “We are using this as an opportunity to develop and put in place systems and processes which will make us even better prepared to handle greater challenges in the future. This includes improving our standard documentation, and taking a new look at internal processes to see where we can be even better and more efficient at handling deliveries. When the number of projects increases again, which it will, we will be stronger than before.”


VALUE

While some departments are seeing lower activity levels, ClampOn’s Service and Support Department is going strong. “The equipment we have delivered still needs installation and support. When there are fewer new projects going on, companies focus on taking care of what they already have, and that makes maintenance even more important,” says Torbjørn Haugsdal, ClampOn’s Service Manager.

“When companies are forced to downsize, there are fewer people to cover the tasks that need to be done. We will take this opportunity to show how valuable our support is, and that there is room for us even when the tide turns. Companies who try our support tend to extend their contracts,” says Haugsdal.


STOP FEEDING THE MONSTER

“The industry has developed a monster which is feeding on excess documentation, inconsistent technical requirements, and a control regime that doesn’t contribute anything to the performance and the quality of the product,” says Dag A. Aldal.

ClampOn’s President, as with many other industry leaders, has felt the pain of having to downsize. He thinks that everyone in the industry’s food chain will experience a certain degree of pain, and it bothers him that the process of change is so slow even when everyone is suffering.

“Every seminar ends up with the big players on the podium, talking about the challenges we face. Afterwards, they go back to their offices and keep feeding the monster. We know where the bottleneck is. Still, it takes surprisingly long to get things done. The industry keeps talking about standardisation like in the aviation and car industry. Now it’s time to walk the talk. We need to stop feeding the monster and deal with it.”

In time, Aldal believes the problems will be solved, and he sees a bright future. “After a downturn, there is always an upturn. We prepare for this by focusing on developing technology and making even better instruments with improved performance, while searching for new markets and new areas where ClampOn can make a difference. Like most others in the industry, we have taken a beating right now, but we are determined to remain Numero Uno.”

dagoggeir2

Geir Instanes and Dag A. Aldal