National Oilwell Varco is a provider of technology, equipment, and services to the global oil and gas industry that supports customers’ full-field drilling, completion, and production needs. Since 1862, NOV has pioneered innovations that improve the cost-effectiveness, efficiency, safety, and environmental impact of oil and gas operations.
With more than 150 years of experience, National Oilwell Varco (NOV) seeks to use its roots and expertise across technology, equipment, and customer service to drive better outcomes for its oil and gas industry customers. “NOV is very much a can-do company that embodies a strong combination of being family-owned with global resourcing,” says Tim Williamson, director of manufacturing for the Western Hemisphere in the Intervention and Stimulation Equipment unit at NOV.
OV began to build a data-driven technology strategy to optimize access to information and provide customers with both descriptive and predictive analytics. Soon after that, the company began to embrace a data-driven philosophy across its organization and segments. NOV sought to collect and visualize the data from its machines and applications. For the completion & production solutions (CAPS) team, valuable insights would come by gathering machine data from internally-facing applications.
The NOV CAPS team sought to answer a fundamental question by gaining real-time insights from its machine data: How much of the time is the company using its machines? The team’s goal focused on improving operational efficiency along with machine performance and predictive maintenance. By gaining access to and being able to visualize data from NOV machines and within NOV systems, NOV felt it could get information to the correct individuals more efficiently. In turn, the company hoped that decision-making could happen faster and with greater accuracy.
“Every hour that we're not employing a machine, we're in essence losing money. We’re depreciating our machines around the clock. We’re paying for the fixed cost of the facility and we’ve typically got a machinist who's scheduled to work, and now that person has nothing to do,” says Williamson. “If we could find ways to monitor machine health and potentially predict when we were going to have a problem, it would give us more control over scheduling maintenance or ordering parts and making sure that we have items on hand to minimize and avoid downtime if possible.”
After thoroughly vetting different solutions, the NOV team chose to move forward using MachineMetrics on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
The MachineMetrics manufacturing analytics platform, running on AWS, appealed to NOV because of its Internet of Things (IoT) foundation, ease-of-use, flexibility, and data visualization capabilities. “We considered many factors and felt that what we were going to get from MachineMetrics would be easily understandable and something we could grow with over time,” says Williamson.
The NOV CAPS team chose to begin with a MachineMetrics pilot at its Houston and Conroe manufacturing facilities. Once the team had their equipment on-site, it took two weeks to implement and connect the MachineMetrics platform with its network and machines. "Between the two facilities, we have 60 computer numerical control machines generating data either around the clock or by eight to 12-hour shifts," says Williamson. "Using MachineMetrics, all of that is information is captured, displayed, categorized, and evaluated for operational improvement daily."
Within the first three months of using MachineMetrics, NOV improved its machine utilization at its Houston facility by 20 percent. “We have data on what is running and whether it is ahead or behind schedule, and we also have historical data about the performance of particular items as they run through the shop," says Williamson. "Our manufacturing engineers can take that information and find areas where we can improve our manufacturing standards. They can find items that perhaps aren't running as efficiently, from a cost standpoint, as they need to. We're more able to easily identify where we have one-off problems as opposed to systemic problems.” Having access to this information enables NOV to solve systemic problems, helping the company buy back capacity and facilitate better productivity.
The NOV team’s next steps are expanding its MachineMetrics footprint and continuing to refine its operational efficiencies. “MachineMetrics is a very forward-thinking, customer service-oriented partner,” says Williamson. “They’ve been responsive to feedback as we continue to grow with them. We are very interested in and are active in the process of expanding our MachineMetrics platform capabilities to facilities around the world, including the United Kingdom, Belize, and Singapore.”
NOV is also beginning to explore predictive maintenance capabilities. “Looking forward, what excites me are possibilities like automating alerts to the right people when certain codes flash or operating parameters are met,” says Williamson. “It will be empowering to maximize the value of our assets and ensure that we are planning around events before they occur, as opposed to spending time reacting, resulting in downtime and lost revenue.”