Across all sectors and all industries, more companies are recognising the many advantages of automation. As technology improves and new innovations arrive at an ever-increasing pace, more aspects of on-site maintenance systems can now be done using a blend of AI, machine learning and robotics. And as the role of automation increases, human error is reduced and safety is enhanced.

In an industry such as oil and gas, regardless of whether it is upstream or downstream, reducing errors and boosting safety are of critical significance and there has been a huge interest in developing automated systems to build and repair rigs and wells. Research from leading insight and data company GlobalData shows that within the last two years more companies in the oil and gas sector have been advertising for jobs that refer to AI and robotics, with a particular focus on AI.

SIFCO ASC offers automated plating systems that can be easily integrated into existing oil and gas production processes. Its automated plating systems can electroplate or anodize localized areas on components. A typical plating system will include one or more preparatory steps prior to the application of the final deposit. Fixturing, masking and motion are determined by the configuration of the part and are engineered to meet production objectives.

The benefits of automation, and in particular of automating the plating process are many and range from better safety to faster turnaround time for repairs and maintenance work, which in turn leads to less downtime and better productivity.

Improved safety

Automating any part of the oil and gas production process, both in an upstream and downstream environment, is a chance to relieve workers from ergonomically difficult and potentially repetitive tasks. This has the impact of improving efficiency and ensuring a higher and more consistent quality. And it can improve the quality of installation or repair work.

In addition, with SIFCO ASC’s automated plating systems, not only has the ergonomic risk to technicians been significantly reduced, depending on the application, the component process time can also be reduced by 50% or more, increasing the available capacity.

Increased productivity

Automating the plating processes allows a business to become more efficient, more flexible and better adapted to the modern operating environment. SIFCO ASC automation has been proved time and again to reduce process times and improve production efficiency.

Reducing the time to complete a repair can save labour costs and with SIFCO ASC’s unique workstation enhancements, it is possible to easily fit new automated processes into existing workflow.

Improved process control

Selective plating is a highly skilled and technical process and requires high degree of consistency and accuracy. Automation provides accurately controlled and consistent deposits in all situations, with fewer concerns about a loss of concentration as a shift nears its end, because there is minimal operator involvement. Full component and process traceability can be provided through system data monitoring and reporting capability.

Reduced turnaround time

Automated plating systems also allow operators to gain control over the full production process, eliminating shipping costs and scheduling issues associated with using an outside sub-contract plating vendor.

One example of SIFCO ASC’s system in operation was with an ongoing project to repair the seal areas of an oil well blow out preventer (BOP). SIFCO ASC immediately set about automating the operation. It created a custom-built Dual Spindle Vertical ID Plating Machine, which was designed to plate two bores at once. With custom masking fixtures SIFCO ASC was able to reduce set-up and masking time. The outcome was that by plating using the new machine, it was possible to reduce the processing and turnaround time by 10 days per BOP for their customer.

To find out more about SIFCO ASC’s automated plating systems and read additional case studies click here.